For those who came in late, there are such things as discontinuous morphemes, i.e. single morphemes that are interrupted by other morphemes. Note this example from this SIL link:

"A circumfix surrounding a root from Tuwali Ifugao (Philippines):

baddang: root ‘help’v. ka--an: circumfix ‘NOMR’

kabaddangan: word ‘helpfulness’"

My question is, do any natural languages have discontinuous coordinators that surround coordinated phrases? For example, are there coordinators that work like the ones in this nonce example?

"Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" = "and1 Bob Carol Ted Alice and2"

"my money or my life" = or1 my money my life or2"

"the tall man and the suspicious dog" = and1 tall man suspicious dog and2"

1 Answer 1


Short answer: no. Slightly longer answer: not that we know of. The closest you can get is polysyndetic coordination, which follows the pattern "and A and B". Note that this isn't really circumfixation, it's just each conjunct being preceded by its own instance of "and". A nice example of this is Brad Pitt's speech in Ingloriuous Basterds:

And the Germans will not be able to help themselves from imagining the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the Germans will be sickened by us. And the Germans will talk about us. And the Germans will fear us. And when the Germans close their eyes at night, and their subconscious tortures them for the evil they’ve done, it will be with thoughts of us that it tortures them with.

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