Some affixes are roots, others are heads
Creemers, A., Don, J., & Fenger, P.
Some affixes are roots, others are heads. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 36
(1), 45-84. doi:10.1007/s11049-017-9372-1.
A recent debate in the morphological literature concerns the status of derivational affixes. While some linguists (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003) consider derivational affixes a type of functional morpheme that realizes a categorial head, others (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011) argue that derivational affixes are roots. Our proposal, which finds its empirical basis in a study of Dutch derivational affixes, takes a middle position. We argue that there are two types of derivational affixes: some that are roots (i.e. lexical morphemes) and others that are categorial heads (i.e. functional morphemes). Affixes that are roots show ‘flexible’ categorial behavior, are subject to ‘lexical’ phonological rules, and may trigger idiosyncratic meanings. Affixes that realize categorial heads, on the other hand, are categorially rigid, do not trigger ‘lexical’ phonological rules nor allow for idiosyncrasies in their interpretation.