The Magnitude of Productivity: Inflectional Affix or Derivational Affix
This paper discusses the efficiency between the two main affixes in the English Language in terms of their ability to create new words in the language. These affixes are inflectional affixes and derivational affixes. The paper looks at how dynamic each of these affixes is in the manner in which they can create new forms of words when they are attached to bases in the English Language. Each of the affixes was defined accordingly. The article also looks at the term ‘productivity’ and its constraints in English. It goes ahead to compare the degree or the magnitude of productivity between the inflectional affix and the derivational affix to find out which of the two (2) affixes is more productive than the other in terms of their ability to create new words when they are attached to bases in the language. To be able to accurately measure the magnitude between the two affixes in terms of their productivity levels, they were both applied to the same words in the article. A simple random technique was used to select seven (7) words each from the four (4) major word class items for the analysis. The paper focuses on the major word class category because members of the major word class share the same inflectional rules and they also admit new members, unlike the minor word class category which does not readily admit new members. For this reason, the major word class items are technically referred to as open class items. The four (4) major word class members are nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Both the inflectional affix and the derivational affix were applied on each of the selected words to determine their level of productivity with regard to how many new words that each of the affixes would be able to create out of the selected words. In each word category, percentages were used to show the level of effectiveness of each affix. At the end of the category analysis, the percentages obtained by each of the affixes at the various stages were computed and used as the overall percentage for the final analysis in the article. The paper equally looks at the differences between the inflectional affix and the derivational affix with regard to the characteristics of the new words that they create. According to Aronoff &Fudeman (2011, pp.168-169), and inflectional affix does not change the core lexical meaning or the lexical category of the base to which it is attached. On the other hand, derivational affixes may or may not change the lexical category of the base it is applied to but typically changes the semantic meaning of the base that it is attached. Based on this literature, affixation (attaching affixes to bases) was carried on, on each of the selected words to find out the kind of new forms of words that would be created. For example, after the affixation on each of the randomly selected words, if the new word formed was a different variant or form of the base, then the implication is that the inflectional affix was used to create that particular new word. On the other hand, if the new word formed was in a different semantic category from the base, then it meant that the derivational affix was used to create that new word. This was how the paper identified the new words as to whether they were created by the inflectional affix or the derivational affix. Frequency tables were used to show both the category and the final analysis of the affixation process on the randomly selected words. Generally, it was found that the derivational affix was a bit more productive than the inflectional affix on the sample of the words used in the paper.