Left-right asymmetries in words: A processing-based account
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis presents a novel account of the suffixing preference and related phenomena based on language processing. The suffixing preference refers to the typological fact that suffixes are more common than prefixes in the world's languages. This thesis argues that prefixes are avoided in languages because they are difficult to immediately recognize in language comprehension, due to their short length, unpredictability, and the lack of phonological cues. This idea is demonstrated by a simulation program based on a probabilistic model of morpheme segmentation, using corpus data of typologically diverse prefixing languages in the world, as well as a hypothetical language. We also argue that our processing-based account is compatible with the fact that there are considerable variations about the suffixing preference between languages, as well as between different grammatical morphemes. It is argued that our account can also explain the asymmetry in phonological integration of affixes, as well as parallel phenomena in clitics and compounds.