Testing the suffixoidization of German -mann '-man'


  • Douglas Lightfoot University of Alabama




Testing the suffixoidization of German -mann '-man'


Throughout its history in Old High German (OHG), Middle High German, Early New High German, and Modern German (ModG), the word Mann "man" has exhibited a high degree of productivity and linguistic flexibility. It has ranged morphosyntactically from a full noun (OHG man "man"), compounded noun (OHG werolt.man "human, mortal"), affixoid (ModG Sports.mann "athlete"), indefinite pronoun (ModG man "one"), to something approaching zero (undergoing demorphologization in the OHG compound gom.man "husband, man"). The affixoid notion and its usefulness in morphology have been controversial in the literature (e.g., Schmidt 1987). Relatively recently, Stevens (2005) proposed criteria for the category affixoid, and a number of standard German grammatical and etymological references (e.g., Duden 1995) have been utilizing this term. This study involves examining modern usage of the form -mann as found in the online Spiegel newsmagazine's database, as well as the collection of historical data primarily on the forms of German -mann from the robust Titus database in Frankfurt. Stevens' (2005) criteria are evaluated and used to measure the validity of German -mann's membership in the category of suffixoid.


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How to Cite

Lightfoot, D. (2011). Testing the suffixoidization of German -mann ’-man’. Linguistica, 51(1), 273–283. https://doi.org/10.4312/linguistica.51.1.273-283