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Morphology. Morphology is the field within linguistics that studies the internal structure of words. a morpheme. the smallest unit of grammatical analysis. Morphemes bricks : different sizes and shapes = classes of morphemes

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Morphology 1


Morphology is thefield within linguistics that studies the internal structure of words.

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a morpheme

  • the smallest unit of grammatical analysis.
  • Morphemes
  • bricks: different sizes and shapes = classes of morphemes
  • walls of different types = sentences, paragraphs and texts.

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be identifiable from one word to another


Contribute in some way to the meaning of the whole word.

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bound morpheme IN one complex word

      • leg- in legible.
      • illegible - the negative counterpart of legible.
      • cran-, huckle-, gorm-, - in cranberry, huckleberry, gormless
  • Cranberry and huckleberry - compounds
  • free morpheme berry
  • cran- huckle-

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Analytical process: Synthetical process:

Doctor doktor

To a doctork doktorovi

English Slovak

more and shorter words fewer and longer words

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A synthetical process combines morphemes into larger words.

Work, Works, worked

stop, stops, stopped

Read, readable, unreadable

analyze, analyzable

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– ed the past tense
  • un- negation
  • Monofunctional morphemes

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-s the singular number + the third person of the English verb

polyfunctional morpheme

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A syntheticalprocess in which all morphemes are

  • monofunctionalis calledagglutination
  • A synthetical process in which the morphemes are polyfunctionalis calledinflection
  • (foot- feet )
  • A process in which morphemes are not combined into larger words but stand as words by themselves is an analytical process and is called isolation.

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Models of morphology

  • Morpheme-based morphology, which makes use of an Item-and-Arrangement approach.
  • Lexeme-based morphology, which normally makes use of an Item-and-Process approach.
  • Word-based morphology, which normally makes use of a Word-and-Paradigm approach.

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Morpheme-based morphology

  • word-forms are analyzed as arrangements of morphemes.
  • A morpheme is defined as the minimal meaningful unit of a language.
  • In a word like independently, we say that the morphemes are in-, depend, -ent, and ly;depend is the root and the other morphemes are, in this case, derivational affixes.
  • In a word like dogs, we say that dog is the root, and that -s is an inflectional morpheme.
  • This way of analyzing word-forms as if they were made of morphemes put after each other like beads on a string, is called
  • Item-and-Arrangement.

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Lexeme-based morphology

  • Item-and-Process approach.
  • Instead of analyzing a word-form as a set of morphemes arranged in sequence, a word-form is said to be the result of applying rules that altera word-form or stem in order to produce a new one.
  • An inflectional rule takes a stem, changes it as is required by the rule, and outputs a word-form
  • a derivational rule takes a stem, changes it as per its own requirements, and outputs a derived stem
  • a compounding rule takes word-forms, and similarly outputs a compound stem.

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word based morphology
Word-based morphology
  • Word-and-paradigmapproach.
  • This theory takes paradigms as a central notion. Instead of stating rules to combine morphemes into word-forms, or to generate word-forms from stems, word-based morphology states generalizations that hold between the forms of inflectional paradigms.
  • Words can be categorized based on the pattern they fit into. This applies both to existing words and to new ones. Application of a pattern different than the one that has been used historically can give rise to a new word, such as older replacing elder (where older follows the normal pattern of adjectivalsuperlatives) and cows replacing kine (where cows fits the regular pattern of plural formation). While a Word-and-Paradigm approach can explain this easily, other approaches have difficulty with phenomena such as this.

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  • inflectional

work – work(-s)

work – work (-ed)

  • paradigm
  • derivational

read + -er

un- + tie

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Derivationally related words are different words with a shared base.

  • We talk about so called word classes , primary grammatical categories,parts of speech or lexical categories:

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The lexicon (vocabulary) of language - much higher than a hundred thousand.

  • It is convenient not to study individual items but to group certain items into classes sharing certain features, and examine them together

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major classes

  • Subclasses
  • Accordingly, we speak of items which are central to the class on one hand, and of those which are on the periphery

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easily, there, yes

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She speaks naturally. She speaks easily.
  • Naturally I like it. Yes, I like it

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For our purposes, in studying grammar, meaning will not be a primary but an auxiliary criterion. The same holds for phonological make-up of words.

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Words of the same word class often have similar paradigms (i.e. sets of forms which the word may assume) and they are paradigmatically related to each other if they can replace each other in certain contexts. Thus some words which can be inflected for number will belong the same class – we shall call them nouns. These words can be used, for example in the context:
  • The …………………………….disappeared.

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words money, chair, trousers, enthusiasm
  • read, very, so, true , and
  • Very, so= the same class because both of them can be used in the frame.
  • They were…………………….pretty.

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By examining with which items certain words can combine, we arrive at their syntagmatic properties. Nouns, for example, can be preceded by adjectives and determiners, and with or without them by prepositions; words like very and so are typically used before some adjectives and adverbs etc. Items which can be used in the same frame are said to be paradigmatically related, those that combine with each other are syntagmatically related

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If by way of example we want to establish a word class, we may group together words which can take the morphemes –es, - ed, - ing.
  • The class obtained will be that of verbs.
  • We shall see, however, that a number of items which are also classified as verbs do not take exactly these three morphemes (e.g. auxiliary and modal auxiliary verbs) In applying our criterion we have obtained a subclass of a larger class of verbs, that of regular verbs.

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English word on its own is rarely overtly marked as belonging to one word class or another.
  • Its class membership only becomes evident when it is used together with other words, i.e. in context.
  • The main criterion is not the form but the function. The same item can, in fact, be used in several functions and its classification is only possible for its particular use. The word table for example can be a noun, an adjective or a verb:

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The word table for example can be a noun, an adjective or a verb:
  • We sat down at the same table.
  • He bought a table lamp.
  • It was his turn to table a proposal.

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  • stôl, stolný and nastoliť
  • d e r i v a t i o n.

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conversion (or zero derivation)
  • word passing from one word class to another (or several others) without taking any affix

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Conversion exists not only between such major word classes as nouns and verbs or verbs and adjectives etc. but also between subclasses such as common and proper nouns, count and non-count nouns etc

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words can be classified on account of various criteria into for example, lexical and grammatical words, i.e. words whose main use is to denote substances, qualities, processes etc. and those used primarily to indicate various relations among these entities.
  • Grammatical words are more important in analytical than in synthetical languages where most of the relations are indicated by affixes.

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Words can also be classified according to whether they can take inflexions or not.
  • Most of the English nouns and verbs belong to the inflected words, adjectives, adverbs and pronouns are inflected or uninflected, prepositions, conjunctions are uninflected words.

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An important division is that into words belonging to open classes and words which are members of closed system or closed classes.

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An open class can be extended by new items if the need arises to name new items or new aspects of extra-linguistic reality, e.g. when a new thing is discovered or invented, a name is given to it.

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On the other hand , we can hardly notice a new pronoun, or preposition in our every-day language experience. Mainly grammatical words belong to closed systems, in which the individual items are mutually exclusive (i.e. two items of the same class can not be used in the same place together) and mutually defining (ie the meaning or function of an item is that which is not contained in the other item or items of the same class)

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For example definite and indefinite article can not be used with the same noun, and once one of them is used we know that it denotes exactly the opposite of what the other one would denote.

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Adverbs derived from adjectives:
  • – ly-
  • morphologically complex without adding – ly (NOWHERE, ANYWHERE, TODAY, YESTERDAY)
  • formed by conversion FAST (the car was driven fast) and HARD (They worked hard), derived from adjectives FAST as in fast car, and HARD as in hard work.

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Nouns derived from nouns
  • Small X : - let, - ette, -ie (droplet, booklet, cigarette, doggie)
  • Female X: - ess, -ine (waitress, heroine)
  • Inhabitant X – er, -(i)an (Londoner, Texan, Glaswegian)
  • State of beingX: - ship, hood (kingship, ladyship, motherhood, priesthood)
  • Devotee of or expert on X: - ist, - ian (Marxist, historian)

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nouns derived from members of other word classes
Nouns derived from members of other word classes
  • nouns from adjectives:

-ity (purity, equality, ferocity, sensitivity)

-ness (goodness, tallness, sensitiveness)

-ism (radicalism, conservatism)

  • Even more numerous are suffixes for deriving nouns from verbs

Here are just a few:

-ance, -ence (performance ignorance, reference)

-ment, (announcement, development)

-ing (painiting, ignoring)

-((a)t)ion (commission, organisation, confusion

-al (refusal, arrival, referral)

-er (painter singer)

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nouns derived from members of other word classes46
Nouns derived from members of other word classes
  • Some non-affixal ways of deriving abstract nouns (other than conversion) are:
  • change in the position of the stress (NOUNS permit, transfer alongside VERBS permít, transfér)
  • Change in the final consonant NOUNS belief proof, defence alongside VERBS to believe, to prove, defend
  • Change in vowel NOUNS song, seat alongside verbs sing, sit.

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adjectives derived from adjectives
Adjectives derived from adjectives
  • In this category prefixes predominate
  • The only suffix is – ish, meaning somewhat X: greenish, smallish
  • Prefixes – UN –extremely widespread for example unhappy, unsure, unreliable
  • Because it is so common, most dictionaries do not attempt to list all un- adjectives.
  • This does not mean, however, that un- can be prefixed to all adjectives quite freely.

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adjectives derived from adjectives48
Adjectives derived from adjectives
  • Another negative prefix is IN- with allomorphs indicated by the variant spellings IL-, IR - , IM- as in intangible, illegal, irresponsible. Impossible
  • It is more restricted than UN, largely for historical reasons .
  • Eatable/uneatable edible/inedible
  • Readable/unreadable legible/illegible
  • Lawful/unlawful legal/illegal

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adjectives derived from members of other word classes
Adjectives derived from members of other word classes
  • Suffixes – ed, -ing, -en can also be adjectives:

A not very interesting book

The party-goers sounded very drunk

The car seemed more damaged than the lamp-post.

  • Further suffixes that commonly form adjectives from verbs are:

able (readable, breakable)

ent, -ant (repellent, conversant)

ive (repulsive, explosive)

  • Suffixes that form adjectives from nouns are more numerous:

ful (pocketful, joyful, helpful)

less (meaningless, helpless)

al (original, normal, personal)ish (boyish, childish)

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verbs derived from verbs
Verbs derived from verbs
  • All affixes that will be mentioned here are prefixes:
  • Most prominent are re- an the negative reversive prefixes un- de- and dis-

Paint, enter

repaint, re-enter

Tie, tangle

untie, untangle

Compose, sensitive


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verbs derived from members of other word classes
Verbs derived from members of other word classes
  • Affixes for deriving verbs from nouns are:

De- debug, deforest,

-ise (organise, terrorise)

-(i)fy, (beautify, petrify)

  • There are also some common verbs that are derived by replacing the final voiceless consonant of a noun with a voiced one, perhaps with some vowel change.
  • Bath bathe
  • Breath breathe
  • House (s) House (z)
  • Wreath Wreathe

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