SUFFIX (Linguistics) History & Concept

The Suffix in Linguistics:

A remarkable feature of the flexibility and richness of English vocabulary comes from the use of prefixes and suffixes to form new words and old words or to modify or extend the root idea. In this respect, it is parallel to German. The practice of using prefix and suffix started from the old English period and has continued to enrich the stock till yet. During the period there were about dozens of prefixes and the same number of suffixes which were used to form new words. Among those suffixes were -ig, -full, -leas and -like. Other frequently used include the adjective suffixes -sum(wynsum) and wis(rihtwis), noun suffixes -dom and -ere.

During the Middle English period, many of the old English prefixes, as well as suffixes, lost their vitality. This is noticeable in the formative fewer of certain suffixes which were widely used in old English. However, some important endings have removed in full force. Among them are the noun suffixes -ness and the adjective endings -full, -less, -som, – ish. Thus the abstract suffix -lock survives only in wedlock -red in hatred and kindred. The formative power of endings like -dom, -hood and -ship diminished gradually.

In the modern period, several suffixes seem to lend themselves to new formations. Recent popular creation on old patterns is stardom, filmdom, gangster, dumpster, and racketeer. Familiar endings like -som, -full, -less can be freely added in accordance with long-standing habits in the language.

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