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Original scientific paper

The Croatian circumfix jo–…–ń

Ivan Marković   ORCID icon ; Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (235 KB) pages 191-217 downloads: 229* cite
APA 6th Edition
Marković, I. (2016). Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń. Suvremena lingvistika, 42 (82), 191-217. Retrieved from
MLA 8th Edition
Marković, Ivan. "Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń." Suvremena lingvistika, vol. 42, no. 82, 2016, pp. 191-217. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Marković, Ivan. "Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń." Suvremena lingvistika 42, no. 82 (2016): 191-217.
Marković, I. (2016). 'Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń', Suvremena lingvistika, 42(82), pp. 191-217. Available at: (Accessed 23 April 2021)
Marković I. Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń. Suvremena lingvistika [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2021 April 23];42(82):191-217. Available from:
I. Marković, "Hrvatski cirkumfiks jo–…–ń", Suvremena lingvistika, vol.42, no. 82, pp. 191-217, 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23 April 2021]

In the paper a language game in the Zagreb Croatian slang is described and analyzed that
combines syllable metathesis and adding the circumfix jo–...–ń. For example, a trisyllabic word
konobar [] 'waiter' becomes jonobarkonj. This language game is viewed in the light
of similar language games in different languages from Australia and Mainland Southeast Asia
through Western Europe to Mesoamerica. The paper confirms three claims. The first claim is
that in language games around the world there are identical patterns of adding, dropping and
transposing syllables. The simplest ones are those with adding syllables, e.g. Cr. ja te volim 'I
love you' → The omission of syllables is much less common, especially
at the beginning of words, e.g. Cr. kolega 'colleague' → lega. More complex syllable word games
include metathesis, e.g. Cr. kužiš 'you know' → žiš.ku. The most complex word games combine
metathesis and affixation, e.g. Cr. kurac 'cock' → jo–rac.ku–ń.
The second claim is about the importance of the syllabic Maximal Onset Principle. In the
course of the described language game it is shown to be more important than the Sonority
Sequencing Principle. For example, in monosyllabic words like moj 'my' the coda is transposed
to the beginning of the word despite the fact that this violates the sonority sequencing (jbeing
more sonorant than m), in order to make the final form acceptable: moj → jmo → jo–jmo–ń
The third claim is that in language games one finds atypical affixes, the ones which otherwise
do not exist in the language in question or are generally rare in the languages of the world.
For example, in the Croatian language game we find the circumfix jo–...–ń. The paper argues
that it is an empty morph, a morph without meaning, which would not be a unique case of an
empty morph in Croatian (cf. –ov–in plural form morf–ov–i 'morphs').

word play; Zagreb slang; affixes; suffixes; circumfixes; spoonerisms

Hrčak ID: 171797



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