Discrete units, viewed as multipartite fixed forms that function together as functional wholes, are examined here, first in a general background in various languages, and subsequently in Czech, through two extensive probes in a 100-million-word corpus. It is suggested that the phenomenon of the circumfix is not peripheral, as it is found in many languages. However, it depends greatly on the point of view taken, the one advocated here being new to traditional grammars. Of the two basic types, grammatical and lexical circumfixes, where there is a co-occurrence of both forms separated by a basis to which they are affixed, the latter case, which can be illustrated by examples such as nabrezi, namesti, nadrazi, is examined here in some detail. The major type examined is an adjectival combination of prefix+(stem)+suffix -ly and it is shown that in all 25 prefixes conjoined in an adjective, there are some circumfixes with the same meaning and function. It is argued that current approaches cannot discover the phenomenon because of its psychological holistic nature, against a vast background of cases that do not belong here. Naturally, with such a systematic and large-scale approach, a number of open questions arise, some of which invite further research.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.