Inflectional Morphology

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Grammatical number, Inflection, Grammar
  • Pages : 4 (847 words )
  • Download(s) : 123
  • Published : February 5, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Inflectional Morphology

‘… and even … the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury found it advisable …’
‘Found what? said the Duck.
‘Found it, ‘the Mouse replied rather crossly; ‘of course you know what “it” means.’
‘I know what “it” means well enough, when I find a thing, ‘said the Duck; ‘it’s generally a frog or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?’

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland

Morphological rules for combining morphemes into words differ from the syntactic rules of a language, which determine how words are combined to form sentences; but there is an interesting relationship between morphology and syntax. In derivation morphology, we saw that certain aspects of morphology have syntactic implications--nouns can be derived from verbs, verbs from adjectives, adjectives from nouns, and so on.

Sentences are combinations of morphemes. It is not always possible to assign a meaning to some of these morphemes, however. For example, what is the meaning of it in the sentence It’s hot in July or in The archbishop found it advisable? What is the meaning of to in He wanted her to go? To has a grammatical ‘meaning’ as an infinitive marker, and it is also a morpheme required by the syntactic sentence formation rules of the language.

Similarly, there are ‘bound’ morphemes that, like to the most purely grammatical markers, representing such concepts as ‘tense’, ‘number’, ‘gender’, and ‘case’.
Such ‘bound’ grammatical morphemes are called inflectional morpheme: they never change the syntactic category of the word or morphemes to which they are attached. They are always attached to complete words. Consider the forms of the verb in the following sentences:

a. I sail the ocean blue.
b. He sails the ocean blue.
c. John sailed the ocean blue.
d. John has sailed the ocean blue.
e. John is sailing the ocean blue.

In sentence b the s at the end of the verb is an ‘agreement’ marker; it signifies...
tracking img