Journal article

From prefixes to suffixes

Mark Harvey, Ian Green, Rachel Nordlinger

Diachronica: international journal for historical linguistics | John Benjamins Publishing Company | Published : 2006


This article provides a counterexample to the commonly held, if unexamined, proposition that morphemes reconstructed as affixes do not change their position with respect to the root. We do not expect to find that a proto-prefix has suffix reflexes, nor that a proto-suffix has prefix reflexes. In this paper we show, through detailed reconstruction, that paradigms of class/case suffixes in a number of Northern Australian languages derive historically from a paradigm of proto-prefixes, through the encliticization and reduction of prefixed demonstratives to nominals. This process has only left a few traces of the demonstrative stems in the synchronic forms.

University of Melbourne Researchers

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