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Query Details

Query Subject:   Homophonous Affixes
Author:   Mike Maxwell
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Morphology

Query:   Somewhere in the last year, I ran across several articles that claimed that in
most languages with any degree of morphology, there tended to be a considerable
amount of homophony among affixes--more than one would expect, given the number
of vowels and consonants in the language. Two examples of homophony that I
recall, both from English, were the -er suffix (comparative on adjectives, and
agentive nominalizer on verbs); and the various -s suffixes (3sg. present tense
on V, plural on N, possessive clitic, and contracted form of ''is''). There were
many other examples of homophonous affix sets, from an assortment of languages.

Unfortunately, I can't find the articles now that I need them. A web search
turned up nothing (perhaps because I couldn't think of many appropriate words
to search for). I seem to recall that one of the articles dated back to
the '50s, while the others were fairly recent. Does someone have a better
memory than mine? I'm not looking for a list of homophonous affix sets,
just the refs for the claims. I'll post a summary if there's interest.

Mike Maxwell
Summer Institute of Linguistics
LL Issue: 10.1663
Date posted: 03-Nov-1999


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