Topics: Morpheme, Affix, Bound morpheme Pages: 7 (1616 words) Published: March 28, 2013
What is Morphology • Morph = form or shape, ology = study of • Morphology is the study of the basic building blocks of meaning in language. These building blocks, called morphemes, are the smallest units of form that bear meaning or have a grammatical function. What Are Morphemes? • Words are not the most basic units of meaning. They are frequently composed of even more basic elements. (1) a. obvious: homework, dinnertime, moonlight, classroom b. medium: fearless, quickly, fishing, momentary c. difficult: walks, tenth, dog’s, flipped Linguistics 201, October 22, 2001 Kordula De Kuthy 1

• The most basic elements of meaning are called morphemes. Each of the preceding examples contained at least 2 morphemes. We can take, for instance, ”th” from ”tenth” and say that it has a meaning all to itself – namely, ”the ordinal numeral corresponding to the cardinal numeral I’m attached to”. Basic Concept Of Word Structure • Morphemes do not combine in arbitrary ways. There are definite patterns to the distribution of morphemes in polymorphemic words. e.g. rewrite = write-re, walks = s-walk. The number, order of and type of morphemes used to make up a particular word is called its structure. Morphologists study not only the meanings of the various morphemes, but also their patterns of distribution – the structures they are capable of forming. This knowledge is part of linguistic competence. • The structure of words can be represented by trees. Linguistics 201, October 22, 2001 Kordula De Kuthy 2

Classification Of Morphemes

Free And Bound Morphemes • A morpheme is free if it is able to appear as a word by itself. It is bound if it can only appear as part of a larger, multi-morphemic word. Every morpheme is either free or bound. • Free morphemes are also referred as roots. • Bound morphemes are also referred to as affixes, among which there are prefixes, infixes, and suffixes. (2) a. prefixes: un-happy, re-write, pre-view b. suffixes: writ-ing, quick-ly, neighbor-hood c. infixes: (very rare in English) speech-ometer • Bound morphemes may be derivational or inflectional 3

• A stem can be defined as a root to which an affix can be added. Thus, the root dog is also a stem, because, even though it contains no affix(es), an affix could be added to it - to form, e.g., dog-s. This notion is necessary because not all roots are such that affixes can be added to them - e.g., of, or, I, etc.


Derivational Morphemes
Derivational morphemes create new words. derive new words from other words. They

Inflectional Morphemes
Inflectional morphemes, on the other hand, do not change meanings or parts of speech, but instead simply make minor grammatical changes necessary for agreement with other words. e.g., cats ← cat + s; cooler ← cool + er. • There are only eight inflectional morphemes: -s, -ed, -ing, - en, -s, -’s, -er, -est • They do not change meaning or part of speech: cat - cats - cat’s → nouns • They are required by the syntax • They are very productive • They occur after derivational morphemes, usually at the very end of the word (in english) • They can only be suffixes (in english) 5 6

e.g., unhappy ← un + happy; happiness ← happy + ness; preview ← pre + view. Further properties • change part of speech or the meaning of a word (3) a. part of speech: us-able (V → A), troublesome (N → A), judg-ment (V → N) b. meaning: dis-comfort, ex-boyfriend c. both: use-less (V → A) • are not required by syntax • are not very productive: dis-like, *dis-hate • usually occur before inflectional suffixes: work-er-s • can be either suffixes or prefixes (in english)

Cranberry Morphemes

Content and Function Morphemes

In the word cranberry, is cran an affix? No, it is a bound root, a so-called cranberry morpheme. Cranberry morphemes are morphemes that occur only as bound roots and that have no constant associated meaning. • cranberry, boysenberry • permit, commit, submit • receive, perceive, conceive

Morphemes (bound or free) can be either content or function...
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