Morphology: Morpheme and Word

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  • Topic: Morpheme, Affix, Inflection
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  • Published : February 15, 2013
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What is a morpheme?|
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 | * A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language. * a morpheme is the smallest semantic unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word, by definition, is a freestanding unit of meaning. Every word comprises one or more morphemes. * any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, each constituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot be divided into smaller independent grammatical parts, as the, write,  or the -ed  of waited.  Compare allomorph (  def 2 ) , morph (  def 1 ) . | * |

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Examples
Unbreakable" comprises three morphemes: un- (a bound morpheme signifying "not"), -break- (the root, a free morpheme), and -able (a morpheme signifying "can be done"). Allomorphs of the plural morpheme for regular nouns: /s/ (e.g. in cats /kæts/), /ɨz/ (e.g. in dishes /dɪʃɨz/), and /z/ (e.g. in dogs /dɒɡz/). Examples

Unbreakable" comprises three morphemes: un- (a bound morpheme signifying "not"), -break- (the root, a free morpheme), and -able (a morpheme signifying "can be done"). Allomorphs of the plural morpheme for regular nouns: /s/ (e.g. in cats /kæts/), /ɨz/ (e.g. in dishes /dɪʃɨz/), and /z/ (e.g. in dogs /dɒɡz/). Discussion|

 | Current approaches to morphology conceive of morphemes as rules involving the linguistic context, rather than as isolated pieces of linguistic matter. They acknowledge that|  | * meaning may be directly linked to suprasegmental phonological units, such as tone or stress. * the meaning of a morpheme with a given form may vary, depending on its immediate environment.|  | | |

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Examples (English)|
 | * Unladylike * The word unladylike consists of three morphemes and four syllables. * Morpheme breaks: * un- 'not' * lady '(well behaved) female adult human' * -like 'having the characteristics of' * None of these morphemes can be broken up any more without losing all sense of meaning. Lady cannot be broken up into "la" and "dy," even though "la" and "dy" are separate syllables. Note that each syllable has no meaning on its own. * Dogs * The word dogs consists of two morphemes and one syllable: * dog, and * -s, a plural marker on nouns * Note that a morpheme like "-s" can just be a single phoneme and does not have to be a whole syllable. * Technique * The word technique consists of only one morpheme having two syllables. * Even though the word has two syllables, it is a single morpheme because it cannot be broken down into smaller meaningful parts.|

Classification|
 | Morphemes may be classified, on the basis of word formation, characteristics into the following types: | Morpheme type| Structure| Bound| Free|
* root| simple, made up of a single morpheme; a basis for compounding and affixation|  yes/no |  yes/no | * stem| may be complex, made up of one or more morphemes; a basis for affixation|  yes/no |  yes/no | * affix * prefix * infix * suffix * suprafix * simulfix * circumfix| simple|  yes |  no | * clitic * proclitic * enclitic| simple|  yes (phonologically) |  yes (syntactically) | Note: A clitic is a kind of morpheme that does not fit well in the above classification system because it is phonologically bound but syntactically free.

Morphemes
by Kirsten Mills
Student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1998
 
Introduction
Morphemes are what make up words.  Often, morphemes are thought of as words but that is not always true.  Some single morphemes are words while other words have two or more morphemes within them.  Morphemes are also thought of as syllables but this is incorrect. Many words have two...
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