CLOSING SUFFIXES IN OLD ENGLISH: A STUDY BASED ON RECURSIVE AFFIXATION

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ABSTRACT

This paper takes issue with the lexicon of Old English and, more specifically, with the existence of closing suffixes in word-formation. Closing suffixes are defined as base suffixes that prevent further suffixation by word-forming suffixes (Aronoff & Furhop 2002: 455). This is tantamount to saying that this is a study in recursivity, or the formation of derivatives from derived bases, as in anti-establish-ment, which requires the attachment of the prefix anti- to the derived input establishment.

The present analysis comprises all major lexical categories, that is, nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs and concentrates on suffixes because they represent the newest and the most productive process in Old English word-formation (Kastovsky 1992, 2006), as well as the set of morphemes that has survived into Present-day English without undergoing radical changes. Given this aim, the data retrieved from the lexical database of Old English Nerthus (www.nerthusproject.com) comprise 6,073 affixed (prefixed and suffixed) derivatives, including 3,008 nouns, 1,961 adjectives, 974 adverbs and 130 verbs. All of them have been analysed in order to isolate recursive formations.

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