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If anyone know a little English can you help answer this question please and thank you!!

 

Numerous English words have a root and an affix. Do you think that the availability of affixes means there are more or fewer words in the English language?

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NotSoSmart  Sep 27, 2018
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I may not be a lexicographer, but I do know what affixes are. An affix is a word element attached to either the beginning or ending of the root of a word with the purpose of modifying the original word's meaning. Here are a few examples of an affix. 

 

Look at how many words, for example, build off of the root -clos-. This root, at its core, means to "shut." Here are a few I could think of:
 

Closet
Closely
Closest
Disclose
Foreclosure
Closeness
Closemouthed
 

 

Notice how combinations of letters added to the word change the meaning of the word while still preserving the original meaning. Let's try an easier root, -spec-, which means "to see." This one has so many examples that I will not even attempt to list them all. I tried listing ones with unique affixes and lengths:

 

Retrospectively
Specifications
Disrespectful
Spectrograph
Spectacular
Inspectors
Suspected
Spectrum
Aspects
Speck

 

All of these words (and many others I omitted) are some variation of "to see." 

 

I do not think this extreme diversity of words would be possible without affixes. Imagine if there was a completely different word for every variation of -spec- or -clos-? These are only two examples. You can attempt to investigate -aqua- or -jur- or -chrono-. 

 

Despite this analysis, I am not sure whether or not it would change the number of words in a language. Maybe there is some other way of organizing symbols to create words that we are not implementing in the modern day; you have to start from somewhere. Maybe other people can chime in and provide their thoughts. I suspect that this is a toss-up question and that no definite answer exists. 

TheXSquaredFactor  Sep 27, 2018
edited by TheXSquaredFactor  Sep 27, 2018

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