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Prefix allomorphy

Allomorphy in prefixes is found with respect to both native and non-native prefixes. In the case of native prefixes, the allomorphy is an effect of phonological constraints. For instance, the allomorph [ɔ] of on- in onmogelijk [ɔmoγǝlǝk] impossible is the effect of assimilation of place and degemination. The allomorphy of non-native prefixes is borrowed from the source languages, Latin and Greek. The prefixes involved are in-, con-, a-, and de- and the allomorphy is illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1

a. in- / im- / iŋ- / il- / ir-
      in-tolerant [ɪntoləˈrɑnt] intolerant
      im-populair [ɪmpopyˈler] unpopular
      in-consistent [ɪŋkɔnsisˈtɛnt] inconsistent
      il-legaal [ɪleˈxal] illegal
      ir-rationeel [ɪrat(ʃ)oˈnel] irrational
b. con- / com- / coŋ- / col- / cor-
      con-sistent [kɔnsisˈtɛnt] consistent
      com-plex [kɔmˈplɛks] complex
      con-claaf [kɔŋˈklaf] conclave
      col-laboratie [kɔlaboˈra(t)si] colloboration
      cor-relatie [kɔrəˈla(t)si] correlation
c. a- / an-
      a-moreel [amoˈrel] immoral, amoral
      an-organisch [ɑnɔrˈxanis] anorganic
d. de- / des-
      de-valuatie [devalyˈɥa(t)si] devaluation
      des-interesse [ˈdɛsɪntərɛsə] disinterest

The selection of an allomorph of non-native prefixes is determined by the initial segment of the stem. In the case of in- and con- there is partial or total assimilation to this stem-initial consonant. This allomorphy therefore contributes to the ease of articulation for these words. In the case of a- and de- the consonant-final allomorph is selected if the stem begins with a vowel, and the vowel-final allomorph otherwise. Thus, a clash of two vowels (vowel hiatus) is avoided.

The assimilation pattern for in- and con- is also found for other non-native prefixes that mainly combine with roots (that is, in borrowed words) such as ad-, con-, sub- and syn-:

Example 2

a. ad-
      ad-jungeren [ɑdjʏŋˈxerə(n)] to adjoin
      af-fix [ˈɑfɪks] affix
      ag-glutineren [ɑxlytiˈnerə(n)] to agglutinate
      ar-rangeren [ɑr̃̃aˈʒerə(n)] to arrange
      as-simileren [ɑsimiˈlerə(n)] to assimilate
b. con-
      con-fusie [kɔnˈfysi] confusion
      col-lega [kɔˈlexa] colleague
      cor-rosie [kɔˈrozi] corrosion
c. sub-
      sub-script [ˈsʏpskrɪpt] subscript
      suf-fix [ˈsʏfɪks] suffix
      sup-poneren [sʏpoˈnerə(n)] to suppose
      sur-rogaat [sʏroˈxat] surrogate
d. syn-
      syn-these [sinˈtesə] synthesis
      sym-metrie [simeˈtri] symmetry
      sy-steem [sisˈtem] system

This allomorphy is less easy to recognize since language users may not recognize internal morphological structure in words like collega or suffix.