chapter  VII
12 Pages

THE SUFFIXES IN PRE-EIGHTH CENTURY TURKISH

In the last chapter we considered the structure of the basic word; we now have to consider the other class of components out of which the Turkish language was constructed, the suffixes which were attached to basic words and must be peeled off one by one to reach them. The method of making new words by elongating existing ones has always been, and still is, one of the most characteristic features of the Turkish language. It is, however, clear that just as there has been a slow secular change in the Turkish vocabulary, so that words which were common in the eighth century have now been forgotten, and words which are now common did not then exist, so also there has been a slow secular change in the suffixes used to make new words. Some words in the eighth century vocabulary carry suffixes which were no longer “productive,” that is could no longer be attached to other words to form new words. Indeed some such suffixes had even then been so long obsolete that it is difficult to guess what their original functions were, although we can be certain that they were suffixes. Some suffixes which were still productive in the eleventh century, for example the suffix -sa:-/-se:- to form the desiderative verb, are no longer

productive. (I, 279 ff.) devotes some space to explaining this desiderative suffix, but even if we knew nothing of any form of Turkish more than a hundred years old, it would still be possible, by comparing Osmanli su “water” and susa-“to be thirsty” and one or two other similar pairs of words to prove that there must at one time have been a desiderative suffix of this form. Other suffixes, for example -tur-/-tür-and -VI-, the suffixes used to form causative and passive verbs respectively, were productive in the eighth century and are still productive. And finally there are some suffixes which are productive to-day but seem to have come into use only comparatively recently.