1887
Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
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Abstract

Abstract

It has repeatedly been observed that there is a worldwide preference for suffixes over prefixes. In this article, we argue that universally dispreferred – or rare – structures can and do arise as the result of regular processes of language change, given the right background structures. Specifically, we show that Ancient Egyptian-Coptic undergoes a long-term diachronic macro-change from exhibiting mixed suffixing-prefixing to showing an overwhelming preference for prefixing. The empirical basis for this study is a comparison of ten typologically significant parameters in which prefixing or affixing is potentially at stake, based on Dryer’s (2013a) 969-language sample. With its extremely high prefixing preference, Coptic belongs to the rare 6% or so of languages that are predominantly prefixing. We argue that each of the micro-changes implicated in this macro-change are better understood in terms of changes at the level of individual constructions, rather than in terms of a broad structural “drift.” Crucially, there is nothing unusual about the actual processes of change themselves.

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2019-03-13
2019-10-20
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): affixation , Ancient Egyptian-Coptic , diachronic typology , linear order , typological rara and universals
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