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Truncation is a morphological operation by which one morpheme is deleted if it is internal to another suffix.


The general manner is as follows:

(i)  Truncation
      [[ base + A]X + B]Y
         1     2      3       ->	1    0    3
     where X and Y are major lexical categories,
     and A and B are affixes

As a consequence of this operation, the two affixes in question cannot co-occur. Truncation is an alternative to affix substitution, and is proposed for similar reasons. Both types of operation are necessary in a word-based morphology, since one often finds regularly derived words which are semantically transparent and formed with productive affixes, although on the surface they do not appear to have been derived from words, but from morphemes. The English suffix -ee attaches to transitive verbs (employ:employee, pay:payee). Although pairs such as nomin+ate:nomin+ee, evacu+ate:evacu+ee are semantically related, the nouns ending in -ee lack the verbal suffix -ate, and if it is assumed that word formation rules can only take words as their base these forms are problematic. Aronoff (1976) solves this problem by allowing for a truncation rule that deletes -ate if it is followed by -ee, as in (ii):

(ii)	[[ root	+ate]V	+ee]N
           1	  2	 3	->	1   0   3



  • Aronoff, M. 1976. Word Formation in Generative Grammar, MIT-press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Scalise, S. 1984. Generative Morphology, Foris, Dordrecht.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory, Blackwell, Oxford.
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