Most if not all national or widely spoken languages with an inflecting or agglutinating typology do all of their inflecting at the end of the word. These are called "suffixing languages".

This is true for nouns and verbs in all the European and East Asian languages I know much about.

But there is another possibility where inflectional information is in the form of prefixes attached to the beginning of the word. These are known as "prefixing languages".

Since I can't name any such languages off the top of my head, I'm wondering which language that has this property is the most widely spoken or has the most speakers. Is any a national language, co-official language, or local lingua franca?

(Yes, combinations of both suffixing and prefixing are also possible, as is internal changes like in Semitic languages. Also I'm only asking about inflecting morphology, not derivational morphology, we know European languages use lots of derivation prefixes.)

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    Not quite all their inflecting - many West Germanic languages (including at one time English) have the ge- prefix on the past participle. May 15, 2013 at 12:16
  • @StoneyB: Ah yes I forgot about that. It's the exception that proves the rule (-; May 15, 2013 at 13:05
  • Virtually all Bantu languages are prefixing. Swahili is the most widely spoken; it's a trade and contact language.
    – jlawler
    May 15, 2013 at 13:28
  • @hippietrail And are prepositions really words? May 15, 2013 at 13:33
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    Ah, I misspelled my URL, and now it's too late to edit it. Sorry. Here it is again, correctly spelled this time.
    – jlawler
    May 17, 2013 at 0:10


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