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Re: Prefixes and typology

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Saturday, May 28, 2005, 13:18
In a message dated 5/27/2005 5:43:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
zaintoum@GMAIL.COM writes:

>one thing that I've noticed >in typology is that in all the VSO or head initial languages that I've >seen, or that I think I've seen, all of them have some grammatical >alterations that occur in the first part of the word, like they use >more prefixes or lenition or similar. I wanted my current language to >be fairly typical of Head Initial ones, but I'm wondering if a >language that is almost exclusively prefix-favoring would be possible >or typical.
According to what I've read on the subject, VSO languages have more prefixing than SOV languages do, but still tend to have suffixes as well. While there are a lot of languages that are (almost) exclusively suffixing, hardly any are (almost) exclusively prefixing. In his famous paper, "Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the Order of Meaningful Elements," Joseph H. Greenberg examined a sample of 30 languages, and found that 12 were exclusively suffixing, one (Thai) was exclusively prefixing, and the other 17 had both prefixes & suffixes. The 6 VSO languages in the sample were all mixed. (Thai is SVO, he says.) I'm sure more languages have been examined since, but that's the reference I had on hand. Doug


Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>