If yes, what are the examples? What change patterns are exhibited?

*modified from Area51

  • 5
    can you give an example of root change?
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 19:41

4 Answers 4


The German diminutive affixes "-chen" and "-lein" cause the root to be umlauted if it can be. For example, "Haus" is "house", "Häuschen" is the diminutive (cottage?).

Other affixes in German do this, too, for example for forming the comparative of adjectives.


English. Many English words undergo stress shift when taking suffixes. Some examples are (quote mark precedes stressed syllable):

'progress (noun)-> pro'gression 'commune (noun)-> co'mmunity

This stress shift also happens with zero-derivation (when words change their lexical class without affixation occurring). An example is:

'permit (noun) -> per'mit (verb).


In some cases, final voiceless fricatives in English nouns become voiced with the addition of the plural morpheme -s. Some of these examples are more dialect-specific than others:

 wife vs. wives
 life vs. lives
 loaf vs. loaves

 house vs. houses ([s] vs. [z])

 path vs. paths ([θ] vs. [ð])

Also, in non-rhotic (i.e. r-dropping) dialects, the addition of a vowel-initial suffix to an r-final root can trigger the surfacing of a linking-r:

 bear [bɛə] vs. bearing [bɛəɹɪŋ]

Germanic strong-weak verbs.

Germanic verbs are usually either strong (vowel change, "ablaut") or weak (suffix), but strong-weak verbs (mostly modal verbs) are both. As far as I know, this takes place in all Germanic languages. English certainly is no exception:

can-could, will-would, may-might

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