Morphology

      Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies the structure of words.

      In English and many other languages, many words can be broken down into parts. For example:

      unhappiness           

      horses                           

      walking                   

Morphology

      un -  carries a negative meaning

      ness - expresses a state or quality

      s - expresses plurality

      ing - conveys a sense of duration

      A word like “yes”, however, has no internal grammatical structure. We can analyze the sounds, but none of them has any meaning in isolation.

Morphology

      The smallest unit which has a meaning or grammatical function that words can be broken down into are known as morphemes.

      So to be clear: “un” is a morpheme.

      “yes” is also a morpheme, but also happens to be a word.

Morphology

      Consider the following word. How many morphemes does it contain?

      Antidisestablishmentarianism

 

      The way that morphemes operate in language provides the subject matter of morphology.

Morphology

      Morphologists also study the patterns which occur in the combination of morphemes in a given language.

      Take, for example, the following words:

      rewrite       retake             relive 

      “re” is a bound morpheme: it attaches only to verbs and only at the beginning of a word. We can’t say “writere” or “takere”

Morphology

      Therefore, part of a speaker’s linguistic competence is knowing, in addition to the meaning of the morphemes of a language, the ways in which the morphemes are allowed to combine with other morphemes.

Morphology

      There are several important distinctions that must be made when it comes to morphemes:

      (1) – Free vs. Bound morphemes

      Free morphemes are morphemes which can stand alone. We have already seen the example of “yes”.

Morphology

      Bound morphemes: never exist as words themselves, but are always attached to some other morpheme. We have already seen the example of “un”.

      When we identify the number and types of morphemes that a given word consists of, we are looking at what is referred to as the structure of a word.

Morphology

      Every word has at least one free morpheme, which is referred to as the root, or stem.

      We can further divide bound morphemes into three categories:

      prefix            un-happy

      suffix             happi-ness

      infix               abso-blooming-lutely

      The general term for all three is affix.

Morphology

      (2) – Derivational vs. Inflectional morphemes

      Derivational morphemes create or derive new words by changing the meaning or by changing the word class of the word. 

      For example:

      happy             unhappy 

      Both words are adjectives, but the meaning changes.

Morphology

      quick              quickness        

      The affix changes both meaning and word class - adjective to a noun.

      In English: Derivational morphemes can be either prefixes or suffixes.

Morphology

      Inflectional morphemes don’t alter words the meaning or word class of a word; instead they only refine and give extra grammatical information about the word’s already existing meaning.

      For example:

      Cat             cats

      walk             walking

Morphology

      In English: Inflectional morphemes are all suffixes (by chance, since in other languages this is not true).

      There are only 8 inflectional morphemes in English:

Morphology

      -s         3rd person sg. present

      “He waits”

      -ed past tense

      “He waited”

      -ing      progressive                      

      “He is waiting”

Morphology

      -en past participle

      “I had eaten”

      -s         plural                      

      “Both chairs are broken”

      -’s        possessive                       

      “The chair’s leg is broken”

Morphology

      -er      comparative                     

      “He was faster”

      -est      superlative                        

      “He was the fastest”

Morphology

      Inflectional morphemes are required by syntax. (that is, they indicate syntactic or semantic relations between different words in a sentence).

      For example:

      Nim loves bananas.

      but 

      They love bananas.

Morphology

      Derivational morphemes are different in that syntax does not require the presence of derivational morphemes; they do, however, indicate sematic relations within a word (that is, they change the meaning of the word).

      For example:

      kind             unkind   

      He is unkind     

      They are unkind

Morphology

      A morpheme is not equal to a syllable:

      "coats"  has 1 syllable, but 2 morphemes.          

      "syllable" has 2 syllables, but only 1 morpheme

Morphology

      Types of Word-Formation Processes

      One of the most productive ways to form new words is through affixation, which is forming new words by the combination of bound affixes and free morphemes.

      There are three types of affixation:

      prefixation: where an affix is placed before the base of the word

Morphology

      suffixation: where an affix is placed after the base of the word

      infixation: where an affix is placed within a stem       (abso-blooming-lutely)

      While English uses primarily prefixation and suffixation, many other languages use infixes.

Morphology

      In Tagolog, a language of the Philippines, for example, the infix ‘um’ is used for infinitive forms of verbs    (to _______)

      sulat      ‘write’      sumulat         ‘to write’

      bili        ‘buy’       bumili       ‘to buy’

      kuha      ‘take’       kumuha         ‘to take’

Morphology

      You might think that this is just memorization, but there are two ways to tell that this is not the case: 

      First, all regular verbs conform to the rule.

      Second, the form is productive. In other words, we could come up with a new word in Tagolog, such as "tilat": In this case, the new word would take the regular infix.

       ‘tilat’             ‘tumilat’

Morphology

      A second word-formation process is known as Compounding, which is forming new words not from bound affixes but from two or more independent words: the words can be free morphemes, words derived by affixation, or even words formed by compounds themselves.

      e.g.       girlfriend        air-conditioner

                  blackbird                looking-glass    

                  textbook        watchmaker

Morphology

      Compound words have different stress, as in the following examples:

      1.      The wool sweater gave the man a red neck.

      2.      The redneck in the bar got drunk and started yelling

Morphology

      In compounds, the primary stress is on the first word only, while individual words in phrases have independent primary stress.

      blackbird       black bird

      makeup          make up  

Morphology

      A third word-formation process is known as Reduplication, which is forming new words either by doubling an entire free morpheme (total reduplication) or part of a morpheme (partial reduplication).

      Examples: ‘goody-goody’, ‘hoity-toity’, ‘wishy-washy’, and ‘teeny weeny’.

      Other languages make much more extensive use of reduplication than English.

Morphology

      In Indonesian, for example, total reduplication is used to form plurals:

      rumah                  ‘house’  

      rumahrumah         ‘houses’

      ibu                       ‘mother’ 

      ibuibu                  ‘mothers’

      lalat                      ‘fly’        

      lalatlalat                ‘flies’

Morphology

      Tagolog, on the other hand, has partial reduplication to indicate future tense:

      bili        ‘buy’       bibili              ‘will buy’

      kain      ‘eat’         kakain            ‘will eat’

      pasok      ‘enter’      papasok        ‘will enter’

Morphology

      A fourth type of word-formation process is known as Blending, where two words merge into each other, such as:

      brunch           from breakfast and lunch

      smog              from smoke and fog 

Morphology

      Semantic Changes

      In addition to new words being formed, words can change their meaning while retaining their original shape. There are several ways that this can be accomplished.

      One of the first ways, Broadening or Widening occurs when the set of appropriate contexts or referents of a word increases.

Morphology

      Broadenings are frequently the result of generalizing from the specific case to the class of which the specific case is a member.

      An example from Old English is the following:

      Originally the word ‘dog’, pronounced OE [docga], referred to a specific breed of dog. The same is true of the word ‘bird.’

Morphology

      Broadening seems particularly common with proper names, such as:

      -Jello

      -Kleenex

      -Xerox

      -Coke

Morphology

      A second type of semantic change is called Narrowing which occurs when the set of appropriate contexts or referents for a word decreases.

      Narrowing is less common, historically, than extensions, though it is still found fairly frequently.

Morphology

      Some examples:

      OE hund      ‘hound’      originally all dogs, now to a particular type of dog.

      ME girl                originally referred to young people of any gender.

Morphology

      A third type of semantic change is called Amelioration which occur when a word takes on somewhat grander connotations over time.

      Some examples:

      OE       knight     

Morphology

      This word originally meant ‘youth’ or ‘military follower’ (powerless and unimportant people) but has since been elevated to refer to people of a more romantic and impressive status.

      ME squire     

      This originally was someone who held a knights shield and armor, now refers to a country gentleman.

Morphology

      The final type of semantic change, called Pejoration is the opposite of semantic elevation; it occurs when a word acquires a more pejorative meaning over time.

      Some examples:

      OE lust          originally ‘pleasure’

      ME      wench      originally ‘a female child’

      ME silly          happy, blessed, innocent

Morphology

      It is interesting to note that semantic changes in one word of a language are often accompanied by (or result in) semantic changes in another word.

      For example: as hund became more specific in meaning, dog became more general. In this way, the semantic system as a whole seemed to remain in balance.