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  1. Morphology, Part 1 September 24, 2012

  2. For Starters • The “Turing Test” • Conceived by the English mathematician/philosopher Alan Turing (1912-1954). • Turing developed much of the theoretical groundwork for modern-day computing machines. • He also worked on cracking enemy codes during World War II. • The Turing Test: don’t ask whether or not a machine can “think”; ask whether or not it can fool someone into thinking it’s human in a natural language conversation. • Check out ELIZA: http://psych.fullerton.edu/mbirnbaum/psych101/Eliza.htm

  3. The Last Quick Write!

  4. The Last Quick Write!

  5. Another Explanation • Pronoun Types: • SubjectiveObjectiveReflexive • She Her Herself • He Him Himself • etc. • If the subject and object of a sentence both refer to the same person/thing, the object pronoun must be reflexive. • Ex: I like myself. • Compare: • She sees herself (in the mirror). • vs. She sees her (in the mirror).


  6. Another Explanation • The main verb in each sentence determines the subject of the verb “like”: • For “appear”, the subject of “like” is the subject of the main clause. • Jen appeared to Mary to like herself. • Jen appeared to Mary to like her. • For “appeal”, the subject of “like” is the object of the main clause. • Jen appealed to Mary to like herself. • Jen appealed to Mary to like her.

  7. Half of the Story • First: a Simpsons-based Quick Write • Second: remember what we learned last time… • Human beings can be creative with language because: • We know the rules for putting sounds and words together to form sentences. • Patterns (Sentence = Noun + Verb) • Patterns of Patterns (Recursive sentences) • These rules = the grammar of the language we know. • Q: What else do we need to know to be a competent speaker of a language?

  8. The Rest of the Story • We need to know what units can be put together by the rules of grammar. • Including: the units of a sentence • color, green, idea, sleep, furious, brown, dog, odor, bark, angry, large, lizard... • These units = the lexicon of the language we know • From Ancient Greek: lexikon “dictionary” • lexis = “word” • Remember: language is discrete.

  9. Knowledge of Language Lexicon UNITS ragamuffin (N) rotund (Adj) rutabaga (N) etc. Grammar RULES 1) Sentence = Noun + Verb etc.

  10. What’s in the Lexicon? • Generally speaking, the lexicon contains: • all the words in the language you know • the building blocks of grammatical sentences • Note, however: • not only do lexical items differ from language to language: (tree, Baum, arbre) • …but one person’s lexicon might be different from another’s • It also happens to be a bit tricky to define exactly what a “word” is…

  11. Words, words, words • Here’s a working definition--words are the smallest free form elements of language: • They do not have to occur in a fixed position with respect to their neighbors. • Example words: • bird cycle talk happy • birds recycle talked happiness • Example “non-words”: • “-s” “re-” “-ed” “-ness” • The “non-words” cannot stand on their own-- • They have to be attached to something else.

  12. Morphemes • Words consist of one or more morphemes. • Morphemes • = the smallest meaningful unit of speech • = a string of sound(s) that carries some information about meaning or function. • An example (non-word) morpheme: [-s] = plural marker • Note the pattern: • bird birds • dog dogs • cat cats • cow cows ...etc.

  13. Plural Formation • Plural nouns in English are formed by rule: • Singular noun + [-s]  Plural noun • So: plural nouns contain two morphemes: • the singular noun (e.g., “bird”) • the plural marker (e.g., “s”) • The rule for putting them together is a word-formation rule. • Q: Are “bird” and “birds” two different words? • Do we need two different entries for them in the lexicon?

  14. Language Model, version 2.0 Grammar RULES Lexicon MORPHEMES [bird] [-s] Word-formation rules Singular N+ /-s/  Plural N

  15. Morpheme Types • Free morpheme: a morpheme that can stand on its own • bird toast • cycle happy • Bound morpheme: a morpheme that must attach to another morpheme • -s -er • re- -ness • Another distinction: • simple words contain only one morpheme • complex words contain more than one morpheme

  16. Simple and Complex simple complex

  17. Language Model, version 3.0 Grammar RULES Lexicon MORPHEMES [-s] [bird] [re-] [cycle] Bound Free Word-formation rules Singular N+ /-s/  Plural N

  18. Roots and Affixes • Bound morphemes are also known as affixes • Affixes attach to roots in word-formation rules • Ex. 1: “birds” • root = [bird] + affix = [-s] • Ex. 2: “recycle” • affix = [re-] + root = [cycle] • Affixes which precede the root are known as prefixes • Affixes which follow the root are known as suffixes

  19. Infixes • When affixes are inserted into the middle of a root, they are known as infixes. • Bontoc (Phillippines): • fikas “strong” fumikas “to be strong” • kilad “red” kumilad “to be red” • fusul “enemy” fumusul “to be an enemy” • Can this sort of thing happen in English? • Abso-freakin’-lutely! • (but it’s not particularly common)

  20. Circumfixes • In some languages, there are even circumfixes. • Circumfixes attach both before and after the root. • Chokma (Oklahoma) • chokma “he is good” ikchokmo “he isn’t good” • lakna “it is yellow” iklakno “it isn’t yellow” • palli “it is hot” ikpallo “it isn’t hot” • German • lieb- “love” (root) geliebt “loved” • frag- “ask” (root) gefragt “asked”

  21. Hand in Hand • Note: affixes are always bound morphemes. • In English, roots tend to be free morphemes. • However, this is not always the case-- • For instance: blueberry, blackberry… • but: cranberry, huckleberry, raspberry. • What do [cran-], [huckle-] and [rasp-] mean? • Bound roots in English are called cranberry morphemes • (technical term)

  22. Cranberry Morphemes • Cranberry morphemes are bound root morphemes. • They have no independent meaning. • They also have no parts of speech • Some deceiving examples: • perceive, receive, deceive • -ceive? • infer, refer, defer • -fer? • commit, permit, submit • -mit? • Also: the liberation of cran?

  23. Conjugation • In many languages verbs are conjugated by adding affixes specifying person and number to a bound root form. • Italian: parlare “to speak” • SingularPlural • 1st Io parlo “I speak” Noi parliamo “We speak” • 2nd Tu parli “You speak” Voi parlate “Y’all speak” • 3rd Lui parla “He speaks” Loro parlano “They speak” • Lei parla “She speaks” • Note: the root form /parl-/ never appears on its own, without an ending.

  24. Bases (or Stems) • Once an affix has attached to a root morpheme, it forms a base… • to which other affixes may attach. • Example: • boy (root) + -ish (suffix) = boyish • Round two: • boyish (base) + -ness (suffix) = boyishness • Another example: black (root) + -en = blacken • Round two: blacken (base) + -ed = blackened • In some linguistic circles, bases are called stems.

  25. Lexical Categories • Important: we know that word-building takes place in stages because specific affixes are particular about what kinds of words they can attach to. • A quick and dirty review of lexical categories (parts of speech): • Nouns • semantically = people, places, things • dog, cat, bike, person, planet, ball, etc. • Verbs • semantically = actions, sensations, states • run, kick, scratch, scream, bite, walk, be, have, etc.

  26. Lexical Categories, reviewed • 3. Adjectives • semantically = properties or qualities • happy, sad, angry, funny, clear, fuzzy, ugly, etc. 4. Prepositions • semantically = spatial relationships (pre + position) • to, for, of, with, out, in, above, below, etc. • 5. Adverbs • semantically = properties or qualities of verbs and adjectives • often, seldom, rarely, purely, frequently, etc. • We’ll talk about these again when we get to syntax…

  27. Quiz Time • Which affixes are being attached in the following sets of words? • Which lexical categories do those affixes attach to? • Which lexical categories are formed by adding the affix? • uncertain, unhappy, untrue • exactly, profoundly, deeply • moralize, vandalize, sermonize • deconstruct, decode, derail