17 February, 2012

LANE 333 - Morphemes

A. Definition of Morpheme:
_A morpheme is a short segment of language that meets three criteria:
1.    It is a word or a part of a word that has meaning.
2.    It cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts without violation of its meaning or without meaningless remainders.
3.    It recurs in differing verbal environments with a relatively stable meaning.
Examining the word straight /stret/:
_ In the light of the three criteria, we find out that:
1.    We recognize it as a word and can find it listed as such in any dictionary.
2.    It cannot be divided without violation of meaning;
The word ‘straight’ /stret/:
a.    /tret/as in trait , /-s/ remains,
b.    */ret/as in rate, /-st/ remains,
c.     */et/as in ate./-str-/ remains.
The leftovers of these parts: /-s/,/st-/, and /str-/ violate the meaning of straight.
Furthermore, if we divide it in these ways, we will get the meaningless remainders of /-s/, /st-/, or /str-/.
3.    It recurs with relatively stable meaning in such environments as straightedge, straighten, and a straight line.
_ Thus, the word straight’ meets all the criteria of a morpheme.
Examining /-ǝn/ in the word brighten /brait-ǝn/:
_ In the light of the three criteria, we find out that:
1.    We recognize it as a part of the word brighten /brait-ǝn/, and when we compare the morpheme bright to the word brighten, we realize that the addition of /-ǝn/ added the sense of ‘make’ in brighten. So /-ǝn/ means ‘make’. Thus, /-ǝn/ is a part of a word and has meaning.
2.    It cannot be divided into smaller meaningful units.
3.    It recurs with a stable meaning in wors such as : cheapen, deepen, soften, and stiffen.
_ Therefore, /-ǝn/ must be considered a morpheme. So brighten contain two morphemes: bright and –en.

B. Free and Bound Morphemes:

A FREE MORPHEME is one that can be uttered alone with meaning.
• A BOUND MORPHEME, unlike the free, cannot be uttered alone with meaning. It is always annexed to one or more morpheme to form a word.
·       -s as in books,
·       -er as in reader,
·       re- as in reread.
C. Bases:
Another classification of morphemes puts them into two classes: Bases and affixes.
_ A base morpheme is the part of a word that has the principal meaning: e.g. denial, lovable.
Bases are very numerous and most of them are free morphemes; but some are bound, like -sent in consent, dissent, and assent. A word may contain one base and one or more affixes as in ‘unmistakable’: un-mis-tak-able has the free base take and the prefixes un- and mis-, as well as the suffix –able.
A base is a linguistic form that meets one or more of these requirements:
1.    It can occur as an immediate constituent of a word whose only other immediate constituent is a prefix or suffix. EXAMPLES: react, active, fertilize
2.    It is an allomorph of a morpheme which has another allomorph that is a free form.
EXAMPLES: depth (deep), wolves (wolf).
3.    It is a borrowing from another language in which it is a free form or a base.
EXAMPLES: biometrics, microcosm, phraseology.

D. Difficulties in Morphemic Analysis:

1.    The first difficulty is that you have your own individual stock of morphemes. For example, Tom may think of automobile as one morpheme meaning car", whereas Dick may know the morphemes auto (self) and mobile (moving), and recognize them in other words like autograph and mobilize.
2.    The second difficulty is that persons may know a given morpheme but differ in the degree to which they are aware of its presence in various words. For example, the agentive suffix (spelled –er, -or, -ar) meaning “one who, that which”, and recognize it in words like singer and actor but what about in professor and sweater .
3.     Another problem results from the fact that metaphors die as language changes. For example, the morpheme –prehend– in apprehend used to mean “to arrest or seize”, but in comprehend the metaphor seems to be dead, and the meaning of the word today is merely ‘understand’.
4.     Additive meaning is a problem in itself. For example: the morpheme pose (place) inpose a question’ and interpose (place between), the meaning is clear but not valid in suppose, repose.
E.  Affixes:
_An affix is a bound morpheme that occurs before or within or after a base. An affix can be either derivational or inflectional.
_ In English, affixes are of three types:
1. prefixes,
2. infixes,
3. suffixes.

Types of affixes:
1.    Prefixes are those bound morphemes that occur before a base, as in import, prefix, reconsider. Prefixes in English are a small class of morphemes, numbering about 75.
2.    Infixes are bound morphemes that have been inserted within a word. In English, infixes are rare. Occasionally they are additions within a word.
3.    Suffixes are bound morphemes that occur after a base, like shrinkage, failure. Suffixes may pile up to the number or three or four e.g. in formalizers’: the base form + the four suffixes -al, -ize, -er, -s, whereas prefixes are commonly single, except for the negative un- before another prefix.
Derivational Affixes:
Derivational affixes serve to alter the meaning of a word by building on a base. For example, the addition of the prefix un- to the word ‘happy’ changes the meaning of ‘happy’. The resulting word ‘unhappy’ means "not happy", another example the addition of the suffix -er to the word ‘write’ changes the meaning of ‘write’, which refers to the action of writing to a word that refers to 'a person who performs the action of writing’. ALL PREFIXES in English are derivational. However, suffixes may be either derivational or inflectional.

Inflectional Affixes:

In contrast to derivational affixes there are only eight "inflectional affixes" in English, and all of them are suffixes. Inflectional suffixes indicate grammatical categories when added to a specific class of words.
Representing morphemes:
Morphemes are normally represented using their most common English spelling surrounded by curly brackets { }: for instance, the morpheme in the simple word dog is represented {dog}. This is called morphemic transcription. It refers to the meaning, not the pronunciation. If the same morpheme has multiple pronunciations, as with the plural –s, pronounced /s/ in words like cats and /z/ in words like dogs, the same transcriptions will be used. So cats would be represented as {cat} + {-s pl} and {dogs} would be represented {dog} + {-s pl}.

F.  Inflectional Suffixes:

The words to which these affixes are attached are called stems. The stem includes the base or bases and all the derivational affixes. Thus the stem of cowboys is cowboy and that of classified is classify.
•The inflectional suffixes differ from the derivational suffixes in the following ways:
1.    They do not change the class of words.                                                                          Example: cold , colder (both adjectives)
2.    They come last in a word.
            Example: shortened.
3.    They go with all stems in that class of words.                                                                       Examples: He eats, drinks, dreams.
4.    They do not pile up; only one ends a word.
            Example: books, working, higher.
An exception is {-s pl ps}, the plural possessive of the noun, as in “the students’ worries”.

G. Derivational Suffixes:

The common characteristics of derivational suffixes are :
1.    The words with which derivational suffixes combine is an arbitrary matter. For example, when the noun is derived from the verb govern we must add -ment,
2.    In many cases, but not all, a derivational suffix changes the class of the word to which it is added. For example, the noun act becomes an adjective by the addition of –ive.
3.    Derivational suffixes usually do not close off a word; that is, after a derivational suffix one can sometimes add another derivational suffix.
Derivation & Inflection:
In grammatical study, it is often necessary to examine families of related words. Such families are linguistically known as paradigms.
A paradigm is a set of related forms having the same base but different affixes. There are two kinds of paradigms:
1.    Derivation Paradigm, and
2.    Inflection Paradigm.
• The derivational paradigm is a set of related words composed of the same base morpheme and all the derivational affixes that can go with this base.
Example: Some examples of noun-marking derivational suffixes are –hood, -ship, -ness, and –ment. Words having these endings are recognized, even in isolation, as nouns. (1999, Herndon)
•A class of words with similar inflection rules is called an inflectional paradigm. Typically, the similar rules amount to a unique set of affixes.
The inflectional paradigm is formed by words to which the inflectional suffixes are attached.
1. Inflectional suffixes do not change the part of speech.
2. Inflectional suffixes come last in a word when they are present.
3. They go with all stems of a given part of speech.
4. They do not pile up as one inflectional morpheme closes a word.
Example: the inflectional paradigm for the class form (NOUNS) is made up as follows: