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Assignment on English Affixes and Roots

Nixon Fuenzalida González

Professor: Cecilia Copello

Valparaíso, Chile

During the last part of this course we have learned the importance of affixes in
word stress. However, affixes have thought us their importance in lexical terms
since with them we can form new words with a completely different meaning
and by knowing the meaning of those affixes we may have at least an idea of
what that word wants to tell us.

Something similar happens with roots (in lexical terms) in view of the fact that
roots have a meaning and they are the basic element of a word, we will have a
thought of what that word also means. Applying our last proposal we can find
examples like:

• Graph (Which means: A diagram)

• Term (A fixed time or date)

But also there are some word roots that require other elements such as:
prefixes, suffixes or even other roots. For example: the roots archy
(government) and dox (opinion or belief) need to be combined with at least one
of the elements mentioned before. Here is an example:

• Dyarchy: [from the prefix dy- (meaning two) and the root archy
(meaning government)]
• Anarchist: [from the prefix an- (meaning without or no), the root archy
(meaning government), and the suffix -ist (meaning one who)]
• Orthodox: [from the prefix ortho- (meaning right or true) and the root dox
(meaning opinion or belief)]

As we have seen so far, one of the main aspects of roots and affixes in English
is the lexical one, but this assignment is not only about this aspect, it is also
about the meaning of the root as well the language of which comes, the
influence of these elements in word stress and some extra information which
might be relevant in the process of having a better understanding of this topic.
In the case of affixes, it is also important knowing the meaning of this, since can
provide us a meaning and therefore help us to understand (As before was
mentioned) the meaning of a word, or in the case a specific part of it. This will
be proved by comparing the origin of the English word with every part of it and
its etymological meaning as well. For a better understanding of the importance
of roots and affixes, phonological transcription will be included as well a small
analysis of the results that will be getting.

The prefixes assigned to me were: Per- & Peri-

Origin English
Prefix English Meaning
Language Examples
• Through • Perforate
Latin per;
• All over Through, • Perambulate
• Completely by means of • Percolate
Implies that an element is present
Chemistry • Peroxide
in the maximum proportion
connotation • Peroxy

The word "per" in Latin has different meanings; one of them is "in relation to,
through, by means of". However there are also other idiomatic English phrases
where it's not associated with a rate: as per instructions / as per enclosed / as
per sample / as per usual / per post / per rail. However, this last meaning is not
useful for our purpose in studying only the prefix but is important to mention
since it is important in the sense of using.

The prefix per- means (in English): through; all over; completely. Almost the
same meaning that it has in the original language. Words containing this
combining form have frequently come directly from Latin or through French with
the initial per- already attached.

In chemistry per- implies that an element is present in the maximum proportion

possible, or that that the principal atom is in a higher state of oxidation than
Examples for prefix per-

1. Percolate: Filter through a porous surface or substance.

2. Perforate (Verb): Pierce and make a hole through something.
3. Perambulate: Walk or travel from place to place.
4. Peroxide: in chemistry, a compound containing two oxygen atoms
bonded together in its molecule or as the anion O22
5. Perborate: in chemistry, a salt which is an oxidized borate containing
a peroxide linkage especially a sodium salt of this kind used as a

1. ['phɜːkəˌleɩt]
2. ['phɜːfəˌɻeɩt]
3. [pə'ɻɑmbjʊleɩt]
4. [pə'ɻɒkˌsaɩd]
5. [pə'bɔ:ɹeɩt]
Prefi Origin Opposite English
English Meaning
x Language Examples
• Round
• Perimeter
Greek peri:
• About • Periodonti
• All around around. cs
Peri- Refers to the point in the Prefix: • Periglacial
Astronomica orbit of a celestial object Apo-
• Perihelion
l connotation or spacecraft at which it is • Perilune
nearest to its parent body

In Greek the word “peri” refers to: around, about, near, enclosing, surrounding.
These meanings are similar to what the English prefix means (Round, about, all
around) The English prefix should not be confused with (for example) peridium:
Which is the plural version of peridia and means: “Botany the outer skin of a
sporangium or other fruiting body of a fungus” In this case, peridium comes
from the Greek peridion which is a diminutive of pera, a leather pouch.

The form is common in modern scientific and medical terms. A pericarp (Green
karpos, fruit) is the part of a fruit formed from the wall of the ripened ovary; a
periglacial area is one adjacent to a glacier or ice sheet or otherwise subject to
repeated freezing and thawing; the pericardium (Greek kardia, heart) is the
membrane enclosing the heart; periodontics (Greek odous, odont-, tooth) is
the branch of dentistry concerned with the structures surrounding and
supporting the teeth; a periurban area is countryside immediately adjacent to a
built-up area.

In astronomy, peri- refers to the point in the orbit of a celestial object or

spacecraft at which it is nearest to its parent body. We can see a similar
meaning between the different areas of use. Thus we can conclude that this
prefix has a great variety of uses, but its meaning it’s practically the same.

Another important thing to be considered is the fact that words started with the
prefix: “apo-“represents the opposite idea of “peri-“. The prefix “apo-“comes
from the Greek “apo”, which means: off, from, or away
Examples for prefix peri-

1. Perimeter: the outer edge of an area of land or the border around it:
2. Periodontics: The branch of dentistry concerned with the structures
surrounding and supporting the teeth.
3. Periglacial: Relating to or denoting an area adjacent to a glacier or ice
sheet or otherwise subject to repeated freezing and thawing.
4. Perihelion: Astronomy, the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or
comet at which it is closest to the sun. The opposite of aphelion.
5. Perilune: The point at which a spacecraft in lunar orbit is closest to the
moon. The opposite of apolune.

1. [pə'ɻɩmɩɩtə]
2. [ˌpɜɻɩə'dɒntɩks]
3. [pɜɹə'gleɩʃəl]
4. [ˌpɜɹɩ'hiːlɩən]
5. ['phɜɹɩluːn]

As was seen on the last prefix, here (also) there is no prove that might help us
to establish rules for a correct word stress.

The roots assigned to me were: Pat & Path

Meaning in Origin Etymology English

English Language (Root Origin) Examples
• To bear
Pat Latin Patior, Pati Patient
• To suffer

The base of the “pat” word comes from the Latin “pati”, from the infinitive of the
deponent verb “patior” which means: To suffer, to endure, to bear.

Present Active Present Infinitive Perfect Active

patior patī Passus sum. (Deponent)

And from this verb descendant the English root: Pass. This was confusing
at some point because a Latin verb has two different English roots. However,
later was learned that roots Pat and Pass have more in common than I thought.

Passus is the source of which appears “Pass” as a similar root to “Pat”. This
root might come from the French verb: passer. From Latin passus, perfect
participle of patior (“‘I endure, allow’”). This similitude is given probably due to a
great number of French words loaned because of the endless social exchange
that England and France have had through history. A great example to prove
this fact is the English verb: “Pass”

Pass: whose etymology comes from French, and this at the same time
comes from Latin passio, that means suffering, noun of action from perfect
passive participle passus, suffered, from deponent verb pati, suffer

The root Pat/Pass should not be confused with words like:

1. Passable: From Latin: Passus that means: Step.

2. Impassible: From Latin possum that means: “I am able” (Without
considering the prefix im-)
3. Passage: From Latin: Passus that means: Step.
Examples for root pat-

1. Patient: Having or showing patience.

2. Passion: Strong and barely controllable emotion.
3. Compatible: Able to exist or be used together without problems or conflict
4. Compassion: a feeling of sympathy for people who are suffering
5. Password: a secret word that allows you to do something, such as use
your computer

1. ['pheɩʃənt]
2. ['phæʃən]
3. [kəm'phætɩbɫ]
4. [kəm'phæʃən]
5. ['phɑːswɜːd]
Meaning in Origin Etymology English
English Language (Root Origin) Examples
Path • To feel Greek Sympathy

English has adopted the root path from Greek “pathos” which means “suffering”.
The English meaning refers to: suffering, emotions in general. Therefore we can
say that the meaning of both, Greek and English, refers to the same thing.

It is important not to confuse the root “path” with the prefix “path” which has the
same meaning but as was explained before roots and prefixes have different
applications. And also is important to consider “path” also as a noun and in this
case has a different meaning.

Path (noun): A way or track laid down for walking or made by continual trading.
Path (prefix): From the Greek pathos: suffering, disease. Ex. pathology is the
science of the causes and effects of diseases

Taking “Sympathy” as example, we will its etymology and therefore try to

determine if this word, and the others which will be analyzed later, descendent
form French.

Sympathy: From Middle French sympathie from Late Latin sympathia from
Ancient Greek συμπάθεια (sumpatheia) from σύν (sun), “‘with, together’”) +
πάθος (pathos), “‘suffering’”).

At the moment we can conclude that most of words that have either Latin or
Greek roots come from French.
Examples for root path-

1. Sympathy: when you show that you understand and care about
someone's problems
2. Pathetic: Arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or
3. Pathology: the scientific study of disease and causes of death
4. Empathy: the ability to imagine what it must be like to be in
someone's situation
5. Sociopath: someone who is completely unable to behave in a way
that is acceptable to society

1. ['sɩmpəɵi]
2. [pə'ɵetɩk]
3. [pə'ɵɒləʤi]
4. ['empəɵi]
5. ['səʊʃɩəʊpæɵ]

During the introduction of this assignment was said that knowing the meaning of
affixes and roots would help to at least have a little idea of what that word is
trying to tell us. However, this asseveration is not completely true since
confusing among other meanings such as:

The root Pat/Pass should not be confused with words like:

4. Passable: From Latin: Passus that means: Step.

5. Impassible: From Latin possum that means: “I am able” (Without
considering the prefix im-)

And the use of these words might lead to confusion and consequently a bad
understanding in lexical terms.

In Roach’s “English Phonetics and Phonology” it is said about prefixes and their
effect on word stress:

“(…)Their effect on stress does not have the comparative regulatory,

independence and predictability of suffixes, and there is no prefix of
one or two syllables that always carries a primary stress.
Consequently, the best treatment seems to be to say that stress in
words with prefixes is governed by the same rules as those words
without prefixes.”

From this paragraph it is easy to conclude that stress prefixes do not have a
specific rule when primary stressing. As was seen in examples like: Perimeter
[pə'ɻɩmɩɩtə] and Perilune ['phɜɹɩluːn] where the stress on the very same
prefix changes completely.

In the case of the roots “pat & path” exits a very different position in word stress
such as:

1. ['sɩmpəɵi]
2. [pə'ɵetɩk]

In the first word the root “path” is unaccented and on the other hand the root is
the second word has the primary stress. But another important thing to be
mentioned is that the second word’s root is broken into pa – thetic because of
the primary stress that “pathetic” has.

This show us that word stress is far complicated than I expected and the easiest
solution seems to be: learning word by word, then there is no temptation to
confuse some words with others.

• Texts: more about root words and more

about prefixes & suffixes.
• Dictionary of Affixes.
• “English phonetics and Phonology” – Third Edition - by Peter Roach
• Tending to Word Roots.
• English and French Versions.
• Articles referred to: “Greek and Latin roots in
English” and “English root”
• Application: "Roots of English", an etymological 'dictionary' by: Classics
Technology center.
A copy of the software can be downloaded from:
• Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Eleventh Edition)
• Cambridge Learner's Dictionary (On-line version)