Introduction It’s not easy for us to understand accurately meaning of an English word without Vietnamese-English dictionary. However, whether Vietnamese-English dictionary is perfect or not. To be honest, a defect in today dictionary is word-by-word translation. If we establish a table of contrastive analysis being based on categories (human category, conceptual category…), we won’t find it difficult to choose words and understand deeply their meanings in translation. Especially, in some categories there are similarities between English and Vietnamese when we add affixes to stem word. It’s reason why I chose this topic. In this paper, you will know what a “semi affix” in Vietnamese is, what an affix in English is, and similarities in some categories between affix in English and “semi affix” in Vietnamese.
CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS OF AFFIX
IN ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE
As we all know that English is the inflectional language but listed analytic one. That means word formation of English are less inflective and much more form words and word orders. Vietnamese is the monomorphemic language having only root and no inflection. Therefore, there are similarities of word formation between English and Vietnamese – they are form words and word orders.
In “Ngữ pháp tiếng Việt”, Professor Nguyễn Tài Cẩn divided morphemes of Vietnamese into 4 types:
When Professor Nguyễn Thiện Giáp presents constituents of word formation, he shows definition of “semi affix”: semi affix is element not losing completely its lexical meaning but repeated in many words and having properties of affix. Basic criterion of semi affix is its auxiliary property expressing in characteristics of meaning, function and distribution. It both undertakes function of word formation and has relation to stems in meaning and form. Therefore, it doesn’t completely become to affix. (Dẫn luận ngôn ngữ học, Educational Publisher, 1998, page 67). Then, when contrasting with Vietnamese, he judges: in Vietnamese, elements such as viên, giả, sĩ, hóa, bất… also have properties of semi affixes (page 68). Contrasting with above classification of Professor Nguyễn Hồng Cổn, the morphemes, which have grammatical validity but not perfectly independent and Sino-Vietnamese origin, have properties of semi affixes. Vietnamese has very limited affixation. Only prefixation and suffixation are attested. A few semi affixes are used along with reduplication. Many semi affixes come from the Sino-Vietnamese origin and learned part of the lexicon.
-sĩ: nghệ sĩ, họa sĩ, nhạc sĩ, viện sĩ, nha sĩ…
-học: dân tộc học, tâm lý học, xã hội học, sinh học…
In above examples, we realize that each word is formed from two elements: one has lexical meaning, another one has tendency toward grammatical meaning. It is the second element that we are discussing is morpheme having properties of semi affixes. When contrasting with English, we realize that there are correspondences in function of word formation between affix in English and “semi affix” in Vietnamese. In English, we have following examples corresponding to above ones in Vietnamese.
So, what is an affix? It is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixation is, thus, the linguistic process speakers use to form new words by adding morphemes at the beginning (prefixation), the middle (infixation), or the end (suffixation) of words.
Affixes are divided into several categories, depending on their position with reference to the stem. Prefix (appears at the front of a stem- predecessor) and suffix (appears at the back of a stem- beautiful) are extremely common terms. Infix (appears within a stem- minneflippinsota) and circumfix (one portion appears at the front of a stem, and the other at the rear- ascattered) are less so, as they are not important in European languages. The other terms (interfix, duplifix, transfix, simulfix, suprafix, disfix) are uncommon.
Therefore, it is clear to find out that there are correspondences in function of word formation between affix in English and “semi affix” in Vietnamese. However, it is not one- to- one correspondence. That means one “semi affix” in Vietnamese is not entirely equal to one affix in English. For example, the word “sĩ” in Vietnamese corresponds to “-ist”, “-er”, “-an”, “-ian” in English (Vietnamese is the source language). On the contrary, English is the source language, affix “-er” in “teacher”, “worker”, “driver”…correspond to “-sĩ”( nha sĩ), “-viên”(giáo viên), “-nhân”(công nhân)…
As a result, this correspondence has to be of higher level and has property of general.
As we all know, reference is one of important functions of word. That means word is lexical mean which is used for naming things, phenomenons, actions, properties… Each race always has categories of time, human, negative, affirmative…they are general categories. However, there are similarities and difference in reference among languages. We realize that through above examples, the pattern: root + affix/ “semi affix” is similarity in word formation between English and Vietnamese. Whereas, frequency and nature of this pattern are different in every language. We can assert that it is the popular pattern in English because English is inflectional language. Although there is not one- to – one correspondence in word formation, if we examine other plane – plane of content which morphemes express, we can realize that each category always has groups of morphemes in every language.
dis-(not; the opposite of): dishonest, dislike, disappear, disadvantage, disagree…
il-(ill-)(not; the opposite of): illegal, illiberal, illogical, illegible, illegitimate,
-sĩ: bác sĩ, tu sĩ, tiến sĩ, dược sĩ, nghệ sĩ, y sĩ…
-viên: nhân viên, diễn viên, sinh viên, thông dịch viên, biên tập viên,phát thanh viên…
-giả: tác giả, học giả, kí giả…
-nhân: thi nhân, công nhân, bệnh nhân, nạn nhân, quân nhân, nghệ nhân…
nhà-: nhà báo, nhà thơ, nhà chính trị, nhà giáo, nhà văn, nhà phê bình…
Implications in language teaching
So far, we have discussed the similarities and differences between affix in English and “semi affix” in Vietnamese. Analyzing this aspect between two languages helps the teachers and students a lot in language teaching and learning. Firstly, in term of methodology, the teachers have one more way to present new vocabulary that is by contrasting English and Vietnamese. This way not only makes the lesson more interesting but also gives students a chance to revise their mother tongue, Vietnamese. Secondly, knowing the way to form new words from stem words and affixes or semi affixes, students can enrich their vocabulary which are very necessary in language learning. Lastly, by giving students a general understanding of word formation from affixes in English and Vietnamese, they can avoid some common mistakes in this field when choosing which affix matches accurately to stem word and being easier in translation.
In general, through this paper, we know that there are similarities of word formation between English and Vietnamese – they are form words and word orders. Besides, we also know some definitions relating to affix (semi affix, prefix, suffix, infix, interfix…) and their origin, property, and some sample examples. Especially, there are stable correspondences between affixes in English and semi affix in Vietnamese. Although they are not one-to-one correspondences, their existence is a definite advantage in translation as well as language teaching and learning.
Quinion. Michael. August 17th, 2009. Types of affix. Affix: the building blocks of English. Retrieved from http://www.affixes.org/typesofaffix.html
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2009). Vietnamese morphology. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_morphology
Ngon ngu.net, linguistics, Vietnamese language and more… June 28th,2006. Phu to tieng anh. Retrieved from http://ngonngu.net/index.php?p=8
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. November 5th, 2010. Affixes. Retrieved fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affix
Nguyen, Can T. 1999. Ngữ pháp tiếng việt, pp.37. Hà Nội: Nhà xuất bản đại học quốc gia Hà Nội.
Nguyen, Giap T. 1998. Dẫn luận ngôn ngữ học, pp.67-68. Hà Nội: Nhà xuất bản giáo dục.