morphology n.
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Morphology. Morphology. Morphology. Definition: the analysis of word structure. studies the ways in which morphemes are used to express grammatical contrasts in sentences. studies the principles/rules governing the construction of new words.

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the analysis of word structure.

inflectional vs derivational morphology morphology
studies the ways in which morphemes are used to express grammatical contrasts in sentences

studies the principles/rules governing the construction of new words

Inflectional vs Derivational Morphology Morphology
inflectional morphology
Inflectional Morphology

Morpheme - unit of meaning which may be represented by one or more allomorphs

Examples: cat-s









kinds of morphemes
Kinds of Morphemes
  • Roots/stems/Free Morphemes
  • Affixes/Bound Morphemes
affixes bound morphemes represent grammatical or relational meanings
Affixes/Bound MorphemesRepresent grammatical or relational meanings

Types of Affixes

Prefixes - come before the stem


Suffixes - come after the stem


Infixes - come within the stem (English doesn't use these)

Tagalog (Philippine language) examples of infixes

Stem: -basa- which means "read"

/bumasa ako nan libro/ read I the book

I read the book. (past tense)

/binasa an libro/ was read the book

The book was read.

Bontoc (Philippine language) examples of infixes

/fikas/ "strong" /fumikas/ "He is becoming strong"

/bato/ "stone" /bumato/ "He is becoming stone"

/fusul/ "enemy" /fumusul/ "He is becoming enemy



alternative forms which carry the same meaning but have different phonological shape.


Examples from English

  • /-iz/ class/classes (following sibilants s,c,z,j)
  • /-s/ cat/cats (following nonsibilant voiceless consonants)
  • /-z/ tub/tubs (following nonsibilant voiced consonants)
  • /-z/ bee/bees (following vowels)

Allomorphs in “Plural” Morpheme

(/-iz/, /-s/, /-z/)

morphologically characterized language types
Morphologically Characterized Language Types

Isolating Languages

Agglutinating Languages

Fusional Languages

Polysynthetic Languages

two questions used to classify languages morphologically
Two Questions Used to Classify Languages Morphologically
  • Does a word divide into smaller meaningful parts?
  • Does each component express a single meaning?
isolating languages
Isolating Languages

Question 1 = NO

Languages that use undividable words, but have strict rules of word order to keep the grammatical meanings of things clear.

Also know as “analytic languages “

Included are Chinese, Indonesian, Pidgins and Creoles.

isolating languages1
Isolating languages

Mandarin Chinese examples

/wo gang yao gei ni na yi bei cha/

I just want for you bring one cup tea

"I am about to bring you a cup of tea."

/xia yu/

down rain

"It was/is/will be raining"

agglutinating languages
Agglutinating Languages

Questions 1 = Yes, 3=Yes

  • Words can be divided into morphemes
  • Each morpheme expresses a separate grammatical meaning

Included are Finnish, Turkish, Japanese, Tamil, etc.

agglutinating languages1
Agglutinating Languages

Turkish example

from the stem /ol-/ meaning die

ol-mek "to die" stem + infinitive

ol-dur-mek "to kill" st+Cause+infinitive

ol-dur-me-mek "to not kill" st+cause+neg+infin

ol-dur-ul-mek "to be killed" st+cause+Pass+infi

ol-dur-ul-me-mek "to not be killed"



"I wish I hadn't been able to kill"

ol -dur -ebil -eme -sey -d -im

die cause able not wish past I

fusional languages
Fusional Languages

Questions 1 = Yes, 3=No

  • Words can be divided into morphemes,
  • Morphemes can express more than one grammatical meaning

Also know as “inflectional languages “

Included are Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages. .

fusional languages1
Fusional Languages

Latin Example

Declensions -- variations on nouns (e.g. man, men, man’s, men’s).

Conjugations -- variations on verbs (e.g. sing, sang, sung).

e pluribus unum


plur- ibus

many – plural/dative case

“Out of many, one”

systems of inflectional morphology
Systems of Inflectional Morphology

Verb tenses - mark time and person

English example: 6 persons and past, present, future,etc

Noun tenses - mark time on nouns

Japanese example: shiroi(white), shirokatta(was white), and shirkute(being white)

Noun cases - mark gramatical role in sentence

Finnish example: fifteen cases

nominative (subject) ablative (from)

allative (to) essive (as)

partitive (part of) translative (change to)

abessive (without) accusative (object)

instructive (by) inessive (in)

comitative (with) elative (out of)

genitive (possessive) illative (into)

adessive (on)

polysynthetic languages
Polysynthetic Languages

A small group of languages that have complex multi-morpheme words that carry a sentence-worth of information.

Included are Basque and many Amerindian languages.

Also know as “amalgamating languages”

These languages are usually very difficult to learn, unless you are brought up with them.  The Basques joke that they are immune to the Devil because he couldn't learn their language!

polysynthetic languages chukchi example
Polysynthetic Languages Chukchi Example

1st person- big- head- aching

I have a bad headache.

Ojibwe Example

  • baataanitaaanishinaabemong = "being able to speak Ojibwe."
  • ngiinitaaozhibii'amaadimin =
  • "we used to write to each other."
processes of new word formation
Processes of New Word Formation
  • Prefixation "disobey“
  • Suffixation "kindness"
  • Conversion - a word changes its class without changing its form "carpet (n.)" becomes "carpet (v.)"
  • Compounding - two free bases/stems are added together “blackbird"
  • Reduplication - "goody-goody" "wishy-washy" "teeny-weeny"
  • Clippings - "ad" "telly" "flu"
  • Acronyms - "NATO" "DJ" "VIP"
  • Blends - "Brunch" from Breakfast and Lunch "Telex" from teleprinter and exchange
defining word
Defining “Word”

Five ways to identify a word

1. Potential Pauses - consistent pauses in speech when sentence spoken slowly.

2. Indivisibility - where are additional words added? They will be added between words, not within them.

3. Minimal Free Forms - Bloomfield defined as: the smallest units of speech that can meaningfully stand on their own.

4. Phonetic Boundaries - in languages with consistent and uniform stress (for example Welsh on the last syllable) can identify the end of each word by stress.

5. Semantic Units - in some sentences, words constitute units of meaning (Dog bites man.) However, in other sentences, words are not clearly separate units of meaning (I switched on the light.) "the" doesn't have a clear separate meaning, and "switched on" requires two words to convey meaning.

word classes
Word Classes

Definition: groups based on the way words are used/behave in language

Example from English

nouns boy, machine, beauty

pronouns she, it, who

adjectives happy, three, both

verbs go, frighten, be

prepositions in, under, with

conjunctions and, because, if

adverbs happily, soon, often

interjections gosh, wow, alas

also sometimes

participles looking, taken

articles a, the, an

criteria for word classes
Criteria for Word Classes

Example of adjective criteria from English

Five criteria for "adjectiveness"

A. occurs after form of to be - he's sad.

B. occurs after articles and before nouns –

the big car.

C. occurs after very - very nice.

D. occurs in the comparative or superlative

- sadder/saddest, more/most important.

E. occurs before -ly to form adverbs - quickly


Words will not always fit neatly in one particular class

Example from English - "round“

Adjective Mary bought a round table.

Preposition The car went round the corner.

Verb The yacht will round the buoy soon.

Adverb We walked round to the shop.

Noun It's your round. I'll have a beer.

adjective gradience in six words
Adjective Gradience in Six Words

A. occurs after form of to be - he's sad.

B. occurs after articles and before nouns –

the big car.

C. occurs after very - very nice.

D. occurs in the comparative or superlative -sadder/saddest, more/most important.

E. occurs before -ly to form adverbs - quickly