A Short Introduction to Derivational Suffixes

One of the most powerful features of Ithkuil is derivational suffixes. A derivational suffix consists of a vowel part and a consonant part. The vowel part signifies degree and type of suffix, while the consonant part signifies the meaning of the suffix, which can be looked up in the Suffixes chapter of the Grammar. Currently, also, seven additional suffixes have been published that will be included in the forthcoming Grammar Supplement.

The degree of suffix is generally specific to its meaning, but often follows the gradation from absolute lack of certain characteristic to absolute presence of it. For example the -rň suffix meaning Degree of Importance/Impact/Signficance in different degrees takes an array of meanings from ‘utterly unimportant’ to ‘crucial’.

The most simple is Type 1 suffix. It simply modifies the meaning of the stem according to the lexical entry of the suffix. I.e. if we take the stem utçat’ meaning ‘end of spacetime’ and add a Degree of Anticipation (better called ‘degree of unwillingness to bear’, because it goes opposite the usual scale) suffix in Degree 9 ‘long-dreaded’, we get utçat’upţ ‘long-dreaded end of spacetime’.

If we want to suggest, that the suffix meaning is inherent in the concept we want to express, we use Type 2 suffix instead. E.g. if we switch Type 1 suffix for a Type 2 in our previous example, ‘long-dreaded end of spacetime’ becomes utçat’uipţ ‘apocalypse’.

Type 3 suffix is used to modify the meaning of the preceding suffix. If in utçat’üpţimž ‘stupid dreaded end of spacetime’ we use Type 3 suffix in place of the second suffix, we get utçat’üpţiemž ‘stupidly dreaded end of spacetime’.

Nine degrees by three suffix types — 27 possible vowel combinations, plus 11 variants for phonaesthetic reasons are given in Table 24 in the Suffixes chapter of the Grammar. These values are also recommended for memorisation if you want to considerably increase the speed of making Ithkuil words.

One of the greatest things about suffixes is that they can be strung onto the stem without any limits (except phonaesthetic limits), thus, creating words of very complex meaning. And if the formative gets too long, you can always detach one or several suffixes and put them in front of the formative as a suffix adjunct.

Finally, I’d like to give an example of this: mzaleňzöržüffûniomz ‘one who is guilty of experiencing a subtle very pleasant memory never to be forgotten’. For the ease of pronunciation it’s better to split it and add an epenthetic vowel: eňzöržüffûniomz amzal. But even then the phrase stays very concise compared to English translation, which is the most impressively looking feature of Ithkuil.


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