Turkish is commonly cited as an example of a language which is, with only one or two quirky exceptions, exclusively suffixing. Cross-linguistically, suffixing is much commoner than prefixing and I have heard that no language is as prefixing to the same degree that Turkish is suffixing. I am aware that there are various languages (e.g. Russian, Swahili, Navajo, Nahuatl, Kuot) that do make relatively extensive use of prefixes but does anyone have any idea which languages are the most prefix-heavy? (is it perhaps one of the aforementioned?)

  • 1
    Most Bantu and Mayan languages are prefixing. There are few if any suffixes. – jlawler Apr 18 '17 at 1:46
  • 2
    Probably the world's oldest language: Sumerian. – fdb Apr 18 '17 at 9:33
  • The Northwest Caucasian languages are a good example. – Atamiri Apr 18 '17 at 18:04
  • Hattic or Hattian was also a prefixing language. – Midas Apr 18 '17 at 21:18
  • 1
    I took that back: because of a brain blink, I forgot to add in the class specific subject and object 3rd person prefixes. – user6726 Apr 19 '17 at 13:54

Athabaskan languages would be the "most prefixing", in (a) being almost or in fact exclusively prefixing and (b) allowing many prefixes (11 positions). Papers on Navaho include this, as well as J. Kari Navajo Verb Prefix Phonology and Young & Morgan The Navajo Language. One can check information from the related language Sekani, and it seems that the language Slavey (K. Rice, A Grammar of Slave) has over a dozen prefix positions. Another contender is related Tlingit, which however has more suffixes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.