An infix is an
affixinserted inside a stem (an existing word). It contrasts with "adfix," a rare term for an affix attached to the outside of a stem, such as a prefix or suffix.
Infixes in English
English has very few true infixes (as opposed to tmesis, see below), and those it does have are marginal. A few are heard in colloquial speech, and a couple more are found in technical terminology.
* The infix "‹iz›" or "‹izn›" is characteristic of hip-hop slang, for example "hizouse" for "house" and "shiznit" for "
shit." Infixes also occur in some language games. The "‹ma›" infix, whose location in the word is described in Yu (2004), gives a word an ironic pseudo-sophistication, as in "sophistimacated, saxomaphone," and "edumacation."
*Chemical nomenclature includes the infixes "‹pe›," signifying complete
hydrogenation (from "piperidine)," and "‹et›" (from " ethyl)," signifying the ethylradical C2H5. Thus from the existing word "picoline" is derived "pipecoline," and from "lutidine" is derived "lupetidine;" from "phenidine" and "xanthoxylin" are derived "phenetidine" and "xanthoxyletin".
Infixes in other languages
While unusual in English, infixes are common in Austronesian and
Austroasiatic languages. For example, in Tagalog, a grammatical form similar to the active voiceis formed by adding the infix "‹um›" near the beginning of a verb. Tagalog has borrowed the English word "graduate" as a verb; to say "I graduated" a speaker uses the derived form "grumaduate".
Arabic uses a common infix, ‹ت› "‹t›" for Form VIII verbs, usually a reflexive of Form I. It is placed after the first
consonantof the root; an epenthetic "i-" prefix is also added since words cannot begin with a consonant cluster. An example is اجتهد "ijtahada" "he worked hard", from جهد "jahada" "he strove". (The words " ijtihad" and " jihad" are nouns derived from these two verbs.)
In Seri some verbs form the plural stem with infixation of "‹tóo›" after the first vowel of the root; compare the singular stem "ic" 'plant (verb)' with the plural stem "itóoc". Examples: "itíc" 'did s/he plant it?' and "ititóoc" 'did they sow it?'.
Other processes called infixation
Tmesisis sometimes considered a type of infixation. It is found in English profanity, such as "fanfuckingtastic" and "absobloodylutely". However, it is often disqualified since the inserted element is a lexical wordrather than an affix. See the article expletive infixation.
Sequences of adfixes (prefixes or suffixes) do not result in infixes: An infix must be internal to a
word stem. Thus the word "originally," formed by adding the suffix "-ly" to "original," does not turn the suffix "-al" into an infix. There is simply a sequence of two suffixes, "origin-al-ly." In order for "-al-" to be considered an infix, it would have to have been inserted in the non-existent word "*originly." The "infixes" in the tradition of Bantu linguistics are often sequences of prefixes of this type, though there may be debate over specific cases.
Semitic languageshave a form of ablaut(changing the vowels within words, as in English "sing, sang, sung, song)" which is sometimes called infixation, as the vowels are placed between the consonants of the root. However, this interdigitation of a discontinuous root with a discontinuous affix is more often called transfixation.
When glossing, it is conventional to set off infixes with
, rather than the hyphens used to set off prefixes and suffixes: :"sh‹izn›it, saxo‹ma›phone, pi‹pe›coline"Compare::"origin-al-ly"
Alan C. L. Yu (2004) " [http://washo.uchicago.edu/pub/nels34.pdf Reduplication in English Homeric Infixation] "
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