Word structure

Authored by: Jenny Mathias


Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415735681
eBook ISBN: 9781315651194
Adobe ISBN: 9781317309314


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Burmese words may be either simple, consisting of one part, or complex, consisting of two or more parts. Complex words may be compounds of two or more lexical items, or derivations consisting of lexical items and grammatical morphemes. While derivational affixes can be used to change verbs into other categories, namely nouns and adverbs, Burmese has no process that turns a non-verb into a verb. Besides derivation by means of affixes, compounding and reduplication are the major processes to derive lexemes. In some cases the distinction between derivation and compounding is not clear-cut, as the status of affixes cannot always be determined. One case in point are the gender-specific suffixes -θà/ðà ‘son’ and -θəmì/ðəmì ‘daughter’, which occur also as free nouns, but as suffixes have the special meaning of ‘belonging to a group or nationality’. Such cases are always stated in the descriptive text in order to maintain linguistic accuracy also where full consistency is not possible.

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