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Initially devised by Dorothy Siegel, the level ordering hypothesis sought to distinguish affixes through their phonological characteristics and morphological characteristics (Spencer 1991). By use of selected affixes, this paper seeks to establish to what degree the ordering level theory applies to these suffixes. We will move from this initial hypothesis, to the affix generalization order and finally to the extended level hypothesis. Through a comprehensive analysis of these levels we will conclude on the degree of proficiency in regard to the selected suffixes. This hypothesis claims that affixation occurs in two ordered levels and that in between these levels, there are word stress rules. Therefore; there is class I affixes and class II affixes.
The order occurs in this form.
Class I affixes
Word stress rules
Class II affixes
The arrows indicate when the word stress rules are applied. This is either before or after the suffixes. Class I affixes include both prefixes and suffixes. Class I prefixes include, +re, +con, +de, + sub, + pre, +in, +en, +be. Class I suffixes include, +ion, +ity, +y, +al, + ic, +ate, +ous, + ive. While Class II prefixes include, -re-,sub-,un-,non-,de-,semi-,anti-.Class II suffixes include,-ness,-less,-hood,-ful,-ly,-y,-like. In a bid to establish the extent of level ordering, we will consider suffixes for this evaluation.
Class I Suffix
In the analysis of this suffix we will look at various words which are formed using the suffix +ity. In the word brutality, this order is outlined in the following way.
Brutal, then +ity. After the stem and suffix are put together, then the stress rules are applied to the word, brutality. Therefore; stress appears after the word has already been formed. Thus +ity, attracts stress to the previous syllable to derive ‘brutality’. More so; class I suffixes, cause the shift of stress in the base to which they are attached to during word formation. In the word brutality, stress shifts as indicated below.
The base of the word is, Brutal. The stress appears at the beginning of the word.
[‘Brutal]. When the suffix +ity is added the stress shifts as follows.
[‘Brutal] → [Bruta’lity].
Other examples include words like, continuity, productivity and fragility. In these words, the affix +ity, attracts stress to the preceding syllables. In these words the order follows like this, we first put together continue, -ity, and then we apply the stress rules. Further examples are,
As witnessed in the formation of the word, brutality, stress is also applied after these words are formed. The stress of the base also changes.
[‘Continue] → [Contin ‘+uity], [‘fragile] → [Fragi ‘+lity], [pro ‘ductive] → [product ‘+ivity], [‘Superficial] → [Superficial ‘+ity], [Singular] → [Singular ‘+ity], [Captiv ‘+ity]
As observed above, Class I suffixes undergo phonological processes. This further distinguishes them from Class II suffixes. Moreover; these suffixes are observed to change the word classes of the root as they progress through the order.
Brutal (adjective) → Brutality (Noun)
Product (Noun) → Productive (verb) → Productivity (noun)
Continue (Verb) → Continuity (noun)
Fragile (adjective) → Fragility (noun)
The suffix +ity, is also known to trigger the rule of tri syllabic shortening. What results after this, is a change of the phonemic sounds from, [ai] in ‘fragile’ to [i] in ‘fragility’ and from, [ə] in ‘brutal’ to [a] in ‘brutality’.
In word formation processes involving class II suffixes, the suffix is added after the word stress rules have been applied. This sort of derivation is significantly different from that of class I suffixes. In the analysis of suffix -ness we will look at how it follows the levels indicated by siege’s hypothesis during word formation. To derive the word, abusiveness we first bring together, ‘abuse’ and ‘ive’ then we apply the word stress rules in order to form ‘abusive’. It is only after we have done this, that we can add the class II suffix, ‘-ness’, giving us the word ‘abusiveness’. Considering that the suffixation of ‘-ness’, occurs downward of the stress rules, then the implications will be that the suffix-ness will not alter the stress already found in the word ‘abusive’.” Therefore; it is clearly observed that these suffixes have neutral stress (Spencer, p.79).
Other examples of words formed in the same way are,
Moreover; it is important to note that, unlike class I suffixes which undergo phonological processes, class II suffixes do not undergo these processes. Other than this, these affixes also differ in other ways. Most significant is the order they follow in a word, when they both occur at the same time. This order is referred to as the affix generalization order. When the suffixes occur together, class I suffixes always precede class II suffixes. That is, class I suffixes appear nearer to the root of the word than class II suffixes. Consequently; class II suffixes are formed through attachment to words and not to stems of words. Moreover; class I suffixes can join with bound morphemes and free morphemes while class II suffixes can only form words with free morphemes.
In such a word like ‘abusiveness’, this order can be observed. The suffix-ive which is a class I suffix occurs before the class II suffix, -ness. Accordingly; this rules out the formation of such words like ‘hopefulity’, this is because this formed when the class II suffix ‘-ful’, attaches to the stem before the suffix +ity, does so. Other such words ruled out include, ’boyhoodity’, ‘recklessity’. These words are guided by such an order.
Stem Class II Class I
Boy boy-hood boyhood-ity
Hope hope-ful hopeful-ity
Moreover, class I suffix +ity, is observed to derive words by attaching to different forms of stems. There are times when it attaches to stems which are not words like in, [Fidel +ity], [duplic+ity].At other times it could be to a bound allomorph like in [simplic+ity].The suffix ‘+ity’ can also manifest in the form of just ‘+ty’. This is seen in words like, [safe+ty], [specia+ty] or [certain+ty].Throughout such formations the words can be seen to abide to the ordering theory. The class I suffix +ity, appears after the exemplified words have applied the word stress rules.
As pointed out, some complex words are found to contain many prefixes or suffixes. In affix ordering, the derivational and inflectional prefixes have an ordering system in their occurrence. Considering the knowledge; that inflectional affixes create different forms of words, as opposed to the derivational affixes which create words, it is possible to pace the affixes in a particular order. In the analysis of the suffix +ity, this order can be demonstrated. For example, in the word ‘readability’, the derivational Class I suffix +able, occurs before the inflectional class I suffix +ity.
Siegel’s level ordering hypothesis has faced challenges from other proponents since its conception. In some of these arguments, like asserted by Strauss, “there are words in which class II suffixes attach to the stems like, business, which has the class II suffix ‘-ness’, attached to the stem,’ busi’ (Cited in Stekauer 2000).
The suffix +ity, has also been witnessed to occur after class II prefixes. This is seen in such words like ungrammaticality and unreality. These words exhibit the following order. The class II suffix, ‘-un’ comes before the class I suffix, ‘+ity’. Another constrain of this theory is seen in the fact that the class 1 suffix ’+ity’, can in some circumstances attach to bound morphemes during word formation. For example, the word ‘ability’, is derived from the bound morpheme,’-abil’, that is [–abil +ity]. These anomalies led to the development of the extended level ordering hypothesis. Similarly to Siegel’s level ordering hypothesis, it also embraces the idea of class I and class II affixation. However; there are additional levels to this hypothesis. It includes;
Level 1 → Class 1 suffixation
Word stress rules
Level II → Class II suffixation
Level III → Root compounding.
Level IV → Regular inflection.
Moving from the first two levels, this hypothesis has the third level which attempts to make some observations. These observations are that some root compounds have similar characteristics with class II affixes, by not undergoing any phonological processes. Thus they do not have any shifts of stress. Moreover; the hypothesis makes the claim that these compounds cannot undertake class 1 and class II affixation. In such root compounds like, ‘passion fruit’, ‘house wife’, ‘well formed’, neither of the affixation classes can be applied. This can be demonstrated as follows;
a) Passion fruit, com-[passion fruit] +y, this makes it impossible to have such words like ‘passion fruity’ or ‘compassion fruity’.
b) House wife, un-[house wife] +ly, this prohibits the formation of words like ‘unhouse wifely’, or ‘housewifely’.
c) Well formed, un-[well formed] +ity, this does not allow the formation of such words like, ‘unwell formedity’ or, ‘well formedity’ However; these root compounds allow for inflections. For example, the compound ‘passion fruit’ can form another word by adding ‘-s’. This would result to, ‘passion fruits’.
The suffix +ity, does not incorporate all the orders showcased by the extended level order hypothesis. This is because no compound undergoes either of the affixation levels, and +ity being a class II suffix is not exempted by this rule.
The concept Lexical Morphology has been partly derived from the relative ordering theory. However; it concentrates more on the phonological aspects of words. Moreover; it is noted that the rules of morphology and phonology occur together. While doing a lexical phonological analysis, Class I affixes are assigned in level I phonology, class II affixes in level II phonology. Level III and level IV are assigned to the compounding and inflection levels of phonology.
Since the conception of this theory, it has seen various criticisms and also witnesses some commendations. Some linguists completely dispute the existence of ordering in lexical morphology. Despite this, the theory has a surmountable level of authenticity. Through the comprehensive analysis of this order and more so, by extensively examining the suffix +ity, it is in order to claim that the level ordering theory bares some ground.
In conclusion, the suffix +ity, has demonstrated the presence of affix ordering. This is clearly seen through the examples given. The class I suffix +ity, attaches to words before the word stress rules are applied. Therefore; it is placed at level I, in the level ordering hypothesis.