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home > Patterns and Categories in English Suffixation and Stress Placement

Patterns and Categories in English Suffixation and Stress Placement
― A Theoretical and Quantitative Study ―

Hideki Zamma
First published:
2013 / 11 / 16
Price (in Japan only):
6,000 yen (Tax Not Included) (280 pages)


The goals of this book are twofold. One is to describe in as much detail as possible the behavior of 119 English suffixes in affixation−in particular the properties of the bases to which they attach, and the stress patterns they exhibit. The second goal is to provide a theory which properly accounts for the behavior of the suffixes, and predict the proportions of each stress and word-formation pattern in the English lexicon.
An extensive investigation is carried out utilizing a CD-ROM version of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. The investigation indicates that English actually has more lexical ‘classes’ than previously assumed, and that both lexical classes and stress patterns are distributed unevenly: some are more likely to occur than others. This result is descriptively important, as quantitative investigations such as the present one had not been carried out in the literature.
The variation among suffixes can best be analyzed in the framework of Partial Ordering Theory, a sub-theory of Optimality Theory. This theory not only accounts for the observed patterns, but also makes quantitative predictions by calculating the proportion of partial rankings for each lexical class and stress pattern. The observed proportions closely match the predictions in most cases. This is seen as a positive result, since previous studies had not provided predictions with the same degree of accuracy.

Hideki Zamma is professor of English linguistics at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies.


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