Datapoint Basque / Prefixing vs. Suffixing in Inflectional Morphology

Discuss WALS Datapoint Basque / Prefixing vs. Suffixing in Inflectional Morphology.

2 Responses to “Datapoint Basque / Prefixing vs. Suffixing in Inflectional Morphology”

  1. M.Gore Says:


    being a linguist myself, I’m admiring the WALS website and project. Really great work!
    I’m a L2-speaker of Basque, and I was wondering how you get to the “equally prefixing and suffixing”-parameter for it.

    Quickly iterating through the list of relevant affixes (copied from the chapter) doesn’t really show an equal distribution:

    * case affixes on nouns: always suffixes
    * pronominal subject affixes on verbs: (see below)
    * tense-aspect affixes on verbs: always post-root, so suffixes
    * plural affixes: suffixes
    * pronominal possessive affixes on nouns: not present in Basque
    * definite or indefinite affixes on nouns: suffixes
    * pronominal object affixes on verbs: (see below)
    * negative affixes on verbs: not present in Basque
    * interrogative affixes on verbs: only in some dialects; it’s a suffix
    * adverbial subordinator affixes on verbs: mixed; can be prefix, suffixes or (usually clause-final) words

    Wrt. pronominal affixes on verbs: the deal here is that there *always* is one pre-radical and zero to 3 post-radical pron. affixes (pro-drop). which affix (subj or dir. obj) goes in front depends on the verb’s transitivity and tense. In summary, at least it seems to me, that Basque should be listed as having a weak prefence for suffixing. I haven’t done any quantitative analysis though.

    That feature mentioned at the bottom of the list (subordination, 94A) also looks rather incorrect for Basque. Basque clearly uses mixed strategies. To illustrate, I’m translating some of the example sentences from the chapter, that are realized by affixes in Basque:

    - prefixal: gelditzen ba-zara (if you stay) vs. gelditzen zara (you stay / are staying)
    - suffixal: lan egiten duzu-lako (because you work) vs. lan egiten duzu (you work / are working)

    Please feel free to contact if you have any further questions or comments on how you arrived at the parameter values for Basque.
    Thank you!

  2. Martin Haspelmath Says:

    The major source of the discrepancy is that Dryer treats the case morphemes, the definite marker, and the plural morpheme as clitics which attach to the last word in the noun phrase and thus not affixes as Dryer code things.

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