Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Material about Morphology


morphe (Greek) = shape, form
-ology = "science of"

The study of the internal structure of words, and of the rules by which words are formed.

To know a word, is to know

* spelling
* pronunciation
* definition
* part of speech
* history
* non-standard/slang
* whether the word is vulgar
* whether the word is obsolete
* examples


* The component of the grammar containing speakers’ knowledge about morphemes and words.
* a speaker’s mental dictionary.

Each word stored in our mental dictionaries must be listed with its unique phonological representation, which determines its pronunciation, and with its meaning. For literate speakers, the spelling or orthography of most of the words we know is also in our lexicons.

Other information listed in our mental lexicon includes:

* Grammatical category, or syntactic class such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on
* Semantic properties (meanings).

Homonyms (homophones) ? Different words with the same sounds: bear bare


1. Lexical Content Words (Open Class Words)

* The classes of words that are defined as words which have stateable LEXICAL MEAING - The majority of words in the language apart from the few FUNCION words. Lexical Content Words are also called pen class words, since we can add new words to these classes.

Example: download : means to transfer information from one computer system to another (This entered English with the computer revolution)

Nouns (attached by the suffix -s to mark plural, take ’s to mark possessive)

One book, two books

Verbs (attached by the suffixes -ed, -s, -ing, -en): walked, walks, walking, brighten

Adjectives (attached by the suffixes -er, -est or use with ‘more’, ‘most’; occur with verbs like ‘be’, ‘seem’, ‘appear’)

taller , tallest, morebeautiful, most beautiful
be happy, seem happy

Adverbs (attached by the suffix -ly; or use with ‘more’, ‘most’)

nicely , more beautifully

* We can and regularly do add new words to these classes

2. Function Words (Grammatical Words) --closed class words

* The class of words whose role is largely or wholly grammatical and do not carry the main semantic content.
* They are also called closed class words since the number of function words are limited in a language.

Determiners articles the, a/an, some, lots of, few
Auxiliary can, could, shall, should, may, might, must
Negation no, not
Relations subordinate conjunction while
Intensifier very, too
Connectors and, or, but (connect two independent clauses)
Preposition in, of
Pronouns I, me, mine, he, she, and so on


* the smallest unit of linguistic meaning.
* A single word may be composed of one or more morphemes.

Example: un+system+atic+al+ly ( the word unsystematically can be analyzed into 5 separate morphemes) A grammatical unit in which there is an arbitrary union of a sound and a meaning that cannot be further analyzed.
* * Every word in every language is composed of one or more morphemes.

One morpheme boy (one syllable)
desire, lady, water (two syllables)
crocodile (three syllables)
salamander (four syllables), or more syllables
Two morpheme boy + ish
desire + able
Three morpheme boy + ish + ness
desire + able + ity
Four morpheme gentle + man + li + ness
un + desire + able + ity
More than four un + gentle + man + li + ness
anti + dis + establish + ment + ari + an + ism

1. Free Morphemes : Morphemes which can be used as a word on its own (without the need for further elements, i.e. affixes)

Example: girl, system, desire, hope, act, phone, happy..

2. Bound Morphemes: Morphemes which cannot occur on its own as an independent (or separate) word.

* Affixes (prefix, suffix, infix and circumfix) are all bound morphemes.



Circumfixes (discontinuous morpheme)
Bound morphemes which occur only before other morphemes.
un- (uncover, undo)
dis- (displeased, disconnect),
pre- (predetermine, prejudge) Bound morphemes which occur
following other morphemes.
-er (singer, performer)
-ist (typist, pianist)
-ly (manly, friendly) Bound morphemes which are inserted
into other morphemes.
fikas "strong"
fumikas "to be strong"
(Bontoc Language) Bound morphemes that are attached to a root or
stem morpheme both initially and finally.
chokma "he is good"
ik + chokm + o "he isn’t’ good"
(Chickasaw Language)

3. Root vs. Stem


Non-affix lexical content morphemes that cannot be analyzed into smaller parts
(ex.) cran (as in cranberry), act, beauty, system, etc..

* Free Root Morpheme: run bottle, phone, etc.
* Bound Root Morpheme: receive, remit, uncount, uncouth, nonchalant, etc.

* When a root morpheme is combined with affix morphemes, it forms a stem.
* Other affixes can be added to a stem to form a more complex stem.

Root believe (verb)
Stem believe + able (verb + suffix)
Word un + believe + able (prefix + verb + suffix)

Root system (noun)
Stem system + atic (noun + suffix)
Stem un + system + atic (prefix + noun + suffix)
Stem un + system + atic + al (prefix + noun + suffix + suffix)
Word un + system + atic + al + ly prefix + noun + suffix + suffix + suffix

4. Derivational morphemes vs. Inflectional Morphemes (Bound morphemes)

Derivational Morphemes

Inflectional Morphemes
1. Derivational morphemes derive a new word by being attached to root morphemes or stems. 1. Inflectional morphemes signal grammatical information such as number (plural), tense, possession and so on. They are thus often called bound grammatical morphemes
2. They can be both suffixes and prefixes in English.
Examples: beautiful, exactly, unhappy, impossible, recover
2. They are only found in suffixes in English.
Examples: boys, Mary’s , walked
3. Change of Meaning
Examples: un+do (the opposite meaning of ‘do’)
sing+er ( deriving a new word with the meaning of a person who sings). 3. No change of Meaning
Examples: walk vs. walks
toy vs. toys
4. Change of the syntactic category (optionally)

i) Change of category

Noun to Adjective boy (noun) + ish ----> boyish (adj.)
Elizabeth (noun) + an ----> Elizabethan (adj.)
affection (noun) + ate ---->affectionate (adj.)

Verb to Noun sing (Verb) + er ----> singer (noun)
predict (Verb) + ion ----> prediction (noun)

Adjective to Adverb exact (adj) + ly ----> exactly (adv)
quiet (adj) + ly ----> quietly (adv.)

Noun to Verb moral (noun) + ize ----> moralize (verb)

Adjective to Noun specific (Adj.) + ity ---->specificity (noun)

ii) No change of category

friend+ship (Noun --> Noun)
pink+ish (Adjective --> Adjective)
re+print (Verb --> Verb)

4. Never change the syntactic category of the words or morpheme to they which they are attached.

* They are always attached to completed words

Examples: walk vs. walked or walks (V--> V)
boy vs. boys (N --> N)
eat vs. eating (progressive) (V-->V)

* In English, inflectional morphemes typically follow derivational morphemes

Examples: unlikelihood, unlikelihoods (not *unlikeslihood)

5. English Inflectional Morphemes Examples
-s third person singular present She waits at home.
-ed past tense She waited at home.
-ing progressive She is eating the donut.
-en past participle Mary has eaten the donuts.
-s plural She ate the donuts.
-’s possessive Disa's hair is short.
-er comparative Disa has shorter hair than Karin.
-est superlative Disa has the shortest hair.


Suppose that we collected the following sets or paradigms of forms

Paku (textbook pp.96) ( the language used by the monkey people called Pakuni)

me "I" meni "we"
ye "you(singular)" yeni "you(plural)"
we "he" weni "they(masculine)"
wa "she" wani "they(feminine)"
abuma "girl" abumani "girls"
adusa "boy" adusani "boys"
abu "child" abuni "children"

To detemine what the morphemes are in such a list, what you have to do is to see if there are any forms that mean the same thing in different words, that is, to look for recurring forms. We find -ni occuring in all the words in the right column which are plurals. Therefore, we can conclude that ?ni as a separate morpheme meaning "plural" which is attached to as a suffix to a noun.

In more complex cases, the next step will be to make a list of all the morphemes we find including free morphemes (root) and bound morphemes and indicate what the meaning of each morpheme and also whether they are root morphemes or bound morphemes. When you find bound morphemes, you also need to indicate whether they are derivational morphemes or inflectional morphemes.