Semantics and Discourse analysis

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a) Free morphemes and bound morphemes

Free morphemes are morphemes that are able to stand on its own in a language. This is usually a stem or root word. So, the meaning of the word allows us to identify the number of morphemes in a word.

Examples of free morphemes are, walk, happy white, run, sad, black.

Bound morphemes are morphemes that are unable to stand own its own. These morphemes usually occur as an affix.

In terms of prefixes, they may be, 'un', in 'undress', 'dis', in discontinue and 'mis' in misunderstand.

In terms of suffixes, they may appear in 'ness' in 'kindness', 'ment' in 'movement' , 'ly', in 'quickly'. All inflectional and derivational morphemes are bound morphemes.

Eg: (a) 'in-distinguish-able' (b) explain-ing

b) Inflectional morphemes and derivational morphemes

Inflectional morphemes are morphemes that have grammatical function but do not change the lexical category or the meaning of the word. They are usually suffixes. There are eight inflectional morphemes in English. They are,

Suffix Example Type/ Form

-s Talk 3rd person present

-ed Talked Past form

-ing Talking 'ing' participle

-ed (-en) Talked (Broken) 'ed' participle

-s Dogs Plural

's Mother's Possessive

-er Smaller Comparative

-est Smallest Superlative

Derivational morphemes are morphemes that can either change the meaning or the word class of a word. Examples of derivational morphemes are,

'mis' in the word, 'misuse', 'un' in the word, ' 'unhappy'. In these cases, the root words have changed in meaning upon adding the prefix thereby creating a new word. In terms of changing the word class, we can see through the examples of, 'ness' , as in 'happiness' and 'ly', as in 'quickly.'

In the case of 'happiness', the root word, 'happy',is an adjective and with the adding of the morpheme 'ness' it changes to a noun. For the instance of the morpheme, 'ly', the root word is 'quick', which is an adjective. Upon adding the morpheme, the word class changes to an adverb.

All prefixes are derivational. However, derivational suffixes will precede inflectional suffixes. An example of such a suffix would be,

Un-know-ing- ly

c) Morphemes and Allomorphs

Besides being the smallest unit of meaning, a morpheme usually has one form. However, in some cases there can be more than one variant. These morphemes are called allomorphs. Allomorphs may be phonologically conditioned when it is dependant on the sound that occurs next to it. For example, in the plural forms of regular English nouns, the forms usually follow the sound prior to it.

Nouns Sound Plural form (s) Breakdown of word

Temple Voiced Temples Temple + 'z'

Mosque Voiceless Mosques Mosque + 's'

Church Sibilant Churches Church + 'iz'

Allomorphs can also be lexically conditioned. This means that the plural form (for example) is linked to a lexical item and it would need to be learned in order to give the correct form by the speakers of the language (as compared to 'phonologically conditioned' which in writing just means adding an 's' and speaking meaning following the sound if it is voiced, voiceless or a sibilant.).

Nouns Irregular noun Plural form Morpheme content

Man Men Man + plural

Moose Moose Moose + zero plural

Mouse Mice Mouse + plural

Goose Geese Goose + plural

Therefore, while they may grammatically have the same function, the plural morphemes are marked differently by using allomorphs.

d) Open and Closed word classes

Words classes basically mean that they are parts of speech. Examples of word classes are, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs (lexical and auxiliary), pronouns, determiners, conjunctions and prepositions.

Open word classes are classes that allow new words to be added. As new scientific discoveries are made, new products are developed, and new ideas are explored new words are formed. In the late twentieth century, for example, developments in computer technology have given rise to...
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