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Prefix allomorphy

Allomorphy in prefixes is found with respect to both native and non-native prefixes. In the case of native prefixes, the allomorphy is an effect of phonological constraints. For instance, the allomorph [ɔ] of on- in onmogelijk[ɔmoγǝlǝk]impossible is the effect of assimilation of place and degemination. The allomorphy of non-native prefixes is borrowed from the source languages, Latin and Greek. The prefixes involved are in-, con-, a-, and de- and the allomorphy is illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1

a. in- / im- / iŋ- / il- / ir-
in-tolerant [ɪntoləˈrɑnt] intolerant
im-populair [ɪmpopyˈler] unpopular
in-consistent [ɪŋkɔnsisˈtɛnt] inconsistent
il-legaal [ɪleˈxal] illegal
ir-rationeel [ɪrat(ʃ)oˈnel] irrational
b. con- / com- / coŋ- / col- / cor-
con-sistent [kɔnsisˈtɛnt] consistent
com-plex [kɔmˈplɛks] complex
con-claaf [kɔŋˈklaf] conclave
col-laboratie [kɔlaboˈra(t)si] colloboration
cor-relatie [kɔrəˈla(t)si] correlation
c. a- / an-
a-moreel [amoˈrel] immoral, amoral
an-organisch [ɑnɔrˈxanis] anorganic
d. de- / des-
de-valuatie [devalyˈɥa(t)si] devaluation
des-interesse [ˈdɛsɪntərɛsə] disinterest

The selection of an allomorph of non-native prefixes is determined by the initial segment of the stem. In the case of in- and con- there is partial or total assimilation to this stem-initial consonant. This allomorphy therefore contributes to the ease of articulation for these words. In the case of a- and de- the consonant-final allomorph is selected if the stem begins with a vowel, and the vowel-final allomorph otherwise. Thus, a clash of two vowels (vowel hiatus) is avoided.

The assimilation pattern for in- and con- is also found for other non-native prefixes that mainly combine with roots (that is, in borrowed words) such as ad-, con-, sub- and syn-:

Example 2

a. ad-
ad-jungeren [ɑdjʏŋˈxerə(n)] to adjoin
af-fix [ˈɑfɪks] affix
ag-glutineren [ɑxlytiˈnerə(n)] to agglutinate
ar-rangeren [ɑr̃̃aˈʒerə(n)] to arrange
as-simileren [ɑsimiˈlerə(n)] to assimilate
b. con-
con-fusie [kɔnˈfysi] confusion
col-lega [kɔˈlexa] colleague
cor-rosie [kɔˈrozi] corrosion
c. sub-
sub-script [ˈsʏpskrɪpt] subscript
suf-fix [ˈsʏfɪks] suffix
sup-poneren [sʏpoˈnerə(n)] to suppose
sur-rogaat [sʏroˈxat] surrogate
d. syn-
syn-these [sinˈtesə] synthesis
sym-metrie [simeˈtri] symmetry
sy-steem [sisˈtem] system

This allomorphy is less easy to recognize since language users may not recognize internal morphological structure in words like collega or suffix.

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