Show Less
Restricted access

English suffixes

Stress-assignment properties, productivity, selection and combinatorial processes


Ives Trevian

English morphophonology has aroused considerable interest in the wake of Chomsky and Halle’s ground-breaking The Sound Pattern of English (1968). Various theoretical models have subsequently emerged, seeking to account for the stress-placement and combinatorial properties of affixes. However, despite the abundance and versatility of research in this field, many questions have remained unanswered and theoretical frameworks have often led their proponents to erroneous assumptions or flawed systems. Drawing upon a 140,000-word corpus culled from a high-performance search engine, this book aims to provide a comprehensive and novel account of the stress-assignment properties, selection processes, productivity and combinatorial restrictions of native and non-native suffixes in Present-Day English. In a resolutely interscholastic approach, the author has confronted his findings with the tenets of Generative Phonology, Cyclic Phonology, Lexical Phonology, The Latinate Constraint, Base-Driven Lexical Stratification, Complexity-Based Ordering and Optimality Theory.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

2. -ion and similar affixes


2. -ion and similar affixes

2.1 General features

From L -iōn-, -iō, the affix -ion and its allomorphs denote an action or a process, result of an action or process, a state of being or a condition.

In rough numbers, with about 4,200 items, -ion is the second most productive suffix of Latin origin in the English language. Some dictionaries list this affix under the form -tion. True enough, 87% of nouns in -ion recorded in the Corpus end with this sequence. The remaining nouns of the Corpus break down as follows ≈ 345 nouns in (s)sion, 27 in -xion and ≈ 180 in which -ion is preceded by another graphic consonant, e.g. Albion, region, fashion, battalion, oblivion, etc. Close scrutiny of the Corpus shows that items in -tion, -(s)sion and -xion are in a huge majority items synchronically analysable as transparent suffixed forms, even when they denote a morphophonological transformation of the base, e.g. decision <~ decide, evolution <~ evolve), whereas those in which -ion is preceded by another graphic consonant than , or are nearly always words with an opaque stem.

The well-known stress-assignment rule of -ion placing stress on the syllable which precedes it, whether this affix be separable or bound, is close to 100% perfect (attention, companion, centurion, oblivion, rebellion, religion, etc.), only four exceptions are recorded: 'dandelion (from the MF phrasal compound dent de lion, literally...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.