Publication Title


Document Type


Publication Date



competition, symbiosis, suffix, derivative, frequency, morphology, borrowing


Ecological models of competition have provided great explanatory power regarding synonymy in derivational morphology. Competition models of this type have certainly shown their utility, as they have demonstrated, among other things, the relevance of frequency measures, productivity, compositionality and analyzability when comparing the development of morphological constructions. There has been less consideration of alternative models that could be used to describe the historical co-development of suffixes that produce words with sometimes similar forms or meanings but are not inevitably or solely in competition. The symbiotic model proposed in this article may help answer larger questions in linguistics, such as how best to analyze certain multilingual morphological phenomena, including the emergence of semantically similar forms within the same language. The present study demonstrates the importance of a diachronic approach in situations of near-synonymy, as an understanding of semantic similarity necessitates a review of the available historical record. In particular, our study focuses on the case of the suffix -eer (e.g., marketeer) in English, analyzing its origins, semantics, compositionality, and historical development, including its symbiotic relationship to the similar suffix -er (e.g., marketer).


First published in Languages 2024, 9(3), 102;

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).