Morphology Basics

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  • Topic: Word, Inflection, Morpheme
  • Pages : 19 (5484 words )
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  • Published : May 14, 2013
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Introduction

We are all intimately familiar with at least one language, our own. Yet few of us ever stop to consider what we know when we know a language. There is no book that contains the English or Russian or Macedonian language. The words of a language can be listed in a dictionary, but not all the sentences, and a language consists of these sentences as well as words. Speakers use a finite set of rules to produce and understand an infinite set of “possible” sentences.

These rules comprise the grammar of a language, which is learned when you “acquire” the language and includes the sound system (the phonology), forming of words (the morphology), how words may be combined into phrases and sentences (the syntax), the way in which the sounds and meanings are related (the semantics), and the words or lexicon. If you had never heard the word syntax you would not, by its sounds, know what it meant. Language, then, is a system that relates sounds with meanings, and when you know a language you know this system. Let us consider language as a tool for communication. The only means by which humans communicate is language (be it spoken or body language). It is the most vital tool of interaction between people. With time, language needs to change in order to meet with the requirements of the people. If we take the word "gay" for example, its meaning has changed. It no longer means what it used to mean some years ago. "Happy", "jovial", "cheerful" were the meanings of gay. But in present times, the word "gay" is connoted to "homosexuality". "If a word is used by many speakers of a language, it will probably survive and it can happen that one day, it becomes an everyday word and enters our dictionaries" (Wagner 2010) . This is exactly what happened with the word "gay". People started associating it with homosexuality, and today, in some 2011 dictionary editions, the word "gay" means "homosexual". Like the word "gay", words like "surf" and "web" have also undergone a change in meaning. They are new related to the internet. Words like "lol" and "ROFL" have become very famous text messages and would probably enter in a dictionary in the coming years, because people have started using these words very often.

Being an important tool of communication between people, the language as a system must be studied with all its parts and a big rule in this system has the morphology, so this paper is an introduction to the morphology of the English language. Morphology

Every speaker of every language knows thousands, even tens of thousands words. The words we know are part of our linguistic knowledge, a component of our mental grammars.

When you know a word you know both its pronunciation and its meaning. If you hear someone utter the sounds represented by the string of letters morpheme and don’t know that it means “smallest unit of linguistic meaning”, you don’t know that word. Once you learn that this particular sound sequence has such a meaning, if you store that knowledge in your mental lexicon (the Greek word for dictionary), you know the word morpheme.

Just as particular strings of words must be united with a meaning in order for it to be a word, so a concept or meaning must be united with specific sounds. Knowing a word means knowing both how to pronounce it and its meaning. The form (sound and pronunciation) and the meaning of a word are inseparable; they are like two sides of a coin and they represent the linguistic sign or word. Each word is stored in our mental dictionaries with information on its pronunciation (phonological representation), its meaning (semantic properties), and its syntactic class or category specification.

Morphology is the study of word formation and the internal structure of words. It can also be defined as a linguistic level of description that deals with grouping of sounds into words. Part of one’s linguistic competence includes knowledge of the...
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