Linguistics Study Guide

Topics: Affix, Morpheme, Word Pages: 33 (6157 words) Published: March 9, 2013


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Morphology is the study of words: their categories, their internal structure, and the operations that form them. Important topics and concepts found in this chapter include the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Morphological terminology Identifying morphemes Identifying lexical categories Analyzing word structure Derivation Compounding Inflection Morphological processes Morphology problems Morphophonemics

The following terms are crucial to understanding morphology. You should know them!


Words are the smallest free forms found in language. Free forms are elements that can appear in isolation or whose position is not fixed. Words can be simple or complex. See table 4.1 on p. 105 of the text for some examples. A morpheme is the smallest meaning or functional unit found in language. Morphemes can be free or bound. Allomorphs are the different forms of a morpheme. A root is the core of a word. It is the portion of the word that carries most of the word’s meaning. The majority of English words are built from roots that are free morphemes, making English a word-based language. Some English words, though, are built from roots that are bound morphemes. Think of some examples. Affixes are different types of bound morphemes. There are three types of affixes found in language: prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. See tables 4.3 and 4.4 on p. 108 for some examples. A base is any form to which an affix is added. The base may be the same as the root, but it can also be larger than the root. See figure 4.3 on p. 107 of the text for an illustration of the difference between roots and bases. 71

Morpheme Allomorphs Root





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72 Chapter Four

Morphemes are the building blocks of words. A word can contain only one morpheme, making it a simple word, or a word may contain more than one morpheme, making it a complex word. Below are some hints for determining the number of morphemes that a word contains. ⇒ A morpheme carries information about meaning or function. Think . . . can the word haunt be divided into the morphemes h and aunt? To do so, both h and aunt must have meaning. Do they? What about the word bats? What meaning does s have in this word? ⇒ The meanings of individual morphemes should contribute to the overall meaning of the word. Think . . . can the word pumpkin be divided into the morphemes pump and kin? To do so, the meaning of pumpkin must have something to do with the meaning of both pump and kin. Does it? ⇒ A morpheme is not the same as a syllable. A morpheme can consist of one or more syllables, but a morpheme does not have to be a syllable. Think . . . how many syllables are found in the morpheme treat? What about in the morpheme Dracula? What about the s found in bats? It is a morpheme, but is it a syllable? ⇒ Often as words are built, changes in pronunciation and/or spelling occur. These do not affect a morpheme’s status as a morpheme. Think . . . when y is added to the morpheme scare, it becomes scary, and when er is added to scary, it becomes scarier. Is the root the same in both scary and scarier? Is the root scare or scar? What is the base for scary? What about for scarier? Is the base the same in both?

Exercise! Identify the number of morphemes in each of the following words. 1. insert ____________________ 2. supply supplies supplier 4. faster power processor ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________ ________________

memory ____________________ 3. format ____________________

flowchart ____________________ 5. bug debug ____________________ ____________________



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