16 April, 2012


A. Definition of “word”:

Words are genuine linguistics units.
In written texts, words are recognized by the white spaces between them.
In linguistic analysis, we are interested in spoken words.
A word’ is a free morpheme or a combination of morphemes that together form a basic segment of speech” . Norman C. Stageberg
“A word is…any segment of a sentence bounded by successive point at which pausing is possible”   Charles F. Hockett.
Words can be identified by the pauses between them:

B. Simple and Complex Words:
English words may be classified on the basis of the kinds and combinations of morphemes of which they are composed.

1. Simple words consist of a single free morpheme.
EXAMPLES: flea, long, spirit
2. Complex words contain, as their immediate constituents (ICs), either two bound forms or a bound and a free form.
EXAMPLES: televise , telephone.
  • Complex Words contain two Bound Forms:

        tele | vise

  • Complex Words contain Bound and free Forms:
       tele | phone
 eras | er
C. Compound Words:
Compound words have free forms, usually two as their ICs:
_     green | house
_    out | side

A small number of compound words have three or four free forms as coordinate ICs.
spic| and| span

Compounds words resemble grammatical structures in that they imply, though they do not state, a grammatical relationship.

Compound words can be distinguished from grammatical structures in three ways:
1. Compound words cannot be divided by the insertion of intervening materials between the two parts, but grammatical structures can be so divided.
     _She is a sweetheart.
_She has a sweet heart.
2. A member of a compound word cannot participate in a grammatical structure. COMPARE:
hard ball to baseball.
·         hard ball =  modifier + noun
·         baseball =   compound word base | ball.
‘very’ can be added:
_ It was a very hard ball.
_ * It was a very baseball.

3. Some compound nouns have different stress patterns than grammatical structures.

Blúebìrd       &      blûe bírd
Blúebìrd =  Compound Word
blûe bird =  Grammatical Structure

Compound words may take three forms:
a.      an open compound: such as sweet potato.
b.      a hyphenated compound: such as mother- in-law.
c.       a closed compound: such as airtight.
Stageberg, Norman C. and Dallin D. Oaks (2000). An Introductory English Grammar , Heinle, Boston:USA.