Allomorph: Inflection and Noun Plural Morpheme

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  • Topic: Inflection, Lexeme, Morpheme
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What we are talking about when it comes to usage of the terms morpheme, morph and allomorph is usually innately related to linguistic science, respectively the study of human and other communication systems. However, one might also be concerned with the fact that the hierarchical term of which morpheme, morph and allomorph are sub-branches, namely Morphology, was firstly introduced by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) to describe the study of forms in nature and the evolution of those forms in order to meet higher standards. Although the implied meaning of the term morphology, which is the study of forms, hasn't changed within the process of transferring it to make it usable in linguistic sciences, the knowledge that lies beneath it had undergone several changes to make it fit the linguistic needs more appropriately. In linguistic science, Morphology approaches to, since there is no uniform definition of "word", define words as structural units which are composed of at least one base morpheme and one or more additional or decomposable morphemes (Study Guide Morphology, Antje Lahne,). Our following assignment will focus on allomorph specifically. B.CONTEXT:

I. Definition:
An allomorph is “any of the different forms of a morpheme”.
[Richard, Platt &Weber, 1987: 9]
E.g. In English, the inflectional noun plural morpheme {S1} is often shown in writing by adding –(e)s to the end of a singular noun, e.g. cat /kæt/ →cats /kæts/. Sometimes this morpheme is pronounced /-z/, e.g. dog /dɒɡz/, and sometimes it is pronounced /-ɪz/, e.g. box /bɒks/ → boxes /bɒ ksɪz/. Ii is believed that /-s/, /-z/, /ɪz/ are three allomorphs of the inflectional noun plural morpheme {S} because:

They are in complementary distribution:
/-s/ occurs only after the voiceless consonants /p, t, k, f, Ɵ/.
/-ɪz / occurs only after the sibilant consonants /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʤ, ʧ/.
/-z/ occurs after voiced sounds, including all vowels and voiced consonants except /z/, / ʒ/, / ʤ/.
They all have the same meaning, either lexical or grammatical: /-s/, /-a/, /-ɪz/ all refer to “plurality” and all mean “more than one”. Thus , an allomorph can also be defined as a variant of a morpheme which occurs in a certain definable environment. And a morpheme is a group of two or more allomorphs which conform to certain, usually rather clearly definable, criteria of distribution and meaning. The concept of morpheme and allomorphs is one of the most basic in descriptive linguistics. Its importance both as a tool and as an insight into the operation of language can hardly be underestimated. II. Four kinds of allomorphs:

1.The phonologically-conditioned allomorph:
2.The grammatically-conditioned allomorph:
The selection of allomorph of root morpheme is sometime determined not by phonological environment but rather by the grammatical context in which the morpheme occurs. Different allomorph of the root may be used depending on the grammatical word of which it forms part. We will illustrate this by contrasting the base form, the past form and the past participle form of the following verbs:

Past tense
Past participle
He jump-ed yesterday.
He call-ed yesterday.
He has jump-ed.
He has call-ed .
He rode yesterday.
He drove yesterday
He has ridden.
He has driven.
She sang yesterday.
She stank yesterday.
She has sung.
She has stunk.
In [a] regular verb stems like “jump” remain unchanged all three columns. The formation of the past tense and the past participle is simply accomplished by the suffixation –ed. This contrasts with the verb in [b] and [c] where the grammatical word that is realised by the word-form dictates the allomorph of the stem that is used. Thus in [b] we see the base form “ride” (as in I ride). But if “ride” is in the past tense it must be realised as rode and if it is past participle that is required, then the form selected is ridden. Similarly, in [c]...
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