suspended affixation



24 June 2006


Suspended Affixation Day is not to be confused with Ascension Day, which is
on Thursday, 25 May, while the former will only be held on Saturday, 24
June.  We'd like to invite phonologists, morphologists, syntacticians, and
semanticists (and why not pragmaticists too) to join us in paying homage to
the marvels of suspended affixation on that day.

Suspended affixation is what you see, or indeed don't see, in this Turkish

Tebrik ve teSekkür-ler-im-i sunaržm.
congratulation and thank-PL-1SG-ACC I.offer
'I offer my congratulations and thanks'

In a syntactic construction (coordination) where two members (nouns) can
potentially be affixed for the same inflectional categories (number, person
and number of possessor, case), one (the first) isn't.  Though it could be
(tebrik-ler-im-i ...), with no great semantic or pragmatic difference in
this particular case.  As everybody knows, however, it does make a
difference whether you suspend or don't in cases like this:

Laurel('s) and Hardy's films

The term "suspended affixation" was probably coined by G. L. Lewis in his
Turkish Grammar (1967), and has subsequently found particular favour in
Turkic linguistics (see further
However, the phenomenon as such had been much discussed in morphological
typology, most notably, in the Humboldt/Steinthal tradition, by Franz
Nikolaus Finck in his Die Haupttypen des Sprachbaus (1910), where it is
subsumed under the notion of "group inflection".  (What's nowadays called
"phrase marking", as opposed to "word marking".  See the introduction to
Double Case, if you find the original sources too heavy-going.)

At any rate, suspended affixation is not something limited to inflection;
on certain conditions, derivational affixes can be suspended, too:

This stuff is neither eat- nor drink-able.

If you need further background, drop us a line.

For Suspended Affixation Day we invite papers on questions such as the
following, and whichever others you feel bear on the issue:

*  In which languages can affixation be suspended?
(surely not in all ...)

*  What kinds of syntactic constructions admit suspended affixation in the
relevant languages?
(coordination, tight/loose apposition, subordinative constructions, ...)

*  What does suspended affixation tell us about the nature of constructions?

*  Which kinds of morphological milieus are conducive to affix suspension?
(agglutination, with affixes separatist, invariant, loosely-bound, not
flexion, with affixes cumulative, variant, tightly-bound?)

*  What kinds of semantic and pragmatic constraints curb suspended
affixation in circumstances where it would be possible on morphosyntactic
and phonological grounds?
(semantic unity, scope, frequency, ...)

*  What kinds of prosodic constraints curb suspended affixation?
(phonological wordhood of bases, prosodic weight of affixes, ...)

*  What notions of "word" and "phrase" are relevant for accounting for
suspended affixation?
(phonological, morphological, syntactic ...)

*  What is the relation of suspended affixation to phrase marking?
(to patterns such as these:  N-case;  N-ADJ-case)

Unlike Ascension, Suspended Affixation Day will be an informal affair.  If
interested in giving a paper (length within reason:  do send a title,
preferably with an abstract), or just to listen in and join in the
discussion, let us know asap, and we'll be in touch.

The presenters and discussants will minimally include the three undersigned
locals and two local affiliates, Amanda Pounder (Calgary) and Olya Gurevich

Unfortunately we can't cover travel costs.  We'd be at your assistance,
though, helping you find (i) your way to Konstanz and (ii) reasonable

Frans Plank (
Baržs Kabak (
Bernhard Wälchli (

Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft & Sonderforschungsbereich 471,
Universität Konstanz
Konstanz, Germany