Linguistics 105 * Words and Sounds
Lecture Number Seven
Introduction to Morphology

  1. The Nature of Morphemes

    1. The Morpheme

      A MORPHEME is the minimal meaningful linguistic sound

      1. A MORPHEME consists of a sound + meaning pairing defined in terms of
        1. the category of the base to which it attaches
        2. the category of the derivative it produces and
        3. whether it is a prefix, suffix, circumfix, infix, etc.

      2. Lexical versus Grammatical Morphemes. This sometimes parallels the bound/free distinction, but is of linguistic relevance only in some languages. More important is the distinction between LEXEMES and GRAMMATICAL MORPHEMES, both of which come in bound and free variants.

        Table 1: Bound and Free
        Lexemes and Morphemes
        Lexical Morphemes Grammatical Morphemes
        free bound free bound
        cat fel-(ine) of -'s (mother's)
        tooth dent-(-al) are -'re (we're)
        dog can-(ine) not -n't (have-n't)
        eye ocul-(ar) will 'll (I'll)

        There are four properties which distinguish lexemes from (grammatical) morphemes.

        Table 2: Lexemes and Morphemes
        Lexical Morphemes Grammatical Morphemes
        1. Lexical categories have meaning 1. Grammatical categories, function
        2. Become inflected and derived 2. Inflectional, derivational markers
        3. Prespecified phonological formant 3. Null & empty variants
        4. Never contract, affix or cliticize 4. Contract, affix, cliticize

    2. Exercises: Morphological Analysis

    3. Types of Morphemes

    1. Prefixes
      1. Prespecified
          work   re-work
          likely   un-likely
          like   dis-like

      2. Reduplicated
          bili 'buy'   bi-bili 'will buy'
          kuha 'get'   ku-kuha 'will get'
          punta 'go'   pu-punta 'will go'
          sulat 'write'   su-sulat 'will write'
          tawa 'laugh'   ta-tawa 'will laugh'

    2. Suffixes
       work  work-ed
       likely  likeli-ness
       bake  bak-er

    3. Infixes
      Tagalog Infixes
       bili 'buy'  b-um-ili 'to buy'
       kuha 'get'  k-um-uha 'to get'
       sulat 'write'  s-um-ulat 'to write'
       punta 'go'  p-um-unta 'to go'
       tawa 'laugh'  t-um-awa 'to laugh'

    4. Circumfixes

    5. Prosodic morphemes
       rejõct  rõject
       suspõct  sáspect
       survõy  sárvey
       rerán  rõrun

    6. Stem mutation
       strike  struck  struck
       teach  taught  taught
       drive   drove  driven
       ring  rang  rung

    7. Revowelling –– The Semitic Binyans

      Table 3: The Arabic Stem *ktb-
       katab 'write'  perfective active
       kutib 'was written'  perfective passive
       aktub 'is writing'  imperfective active
       uktab 'was being written'  imperfective passive

      Table 4: The Hebrew Stem *gdr-
      Active Passive
       gadar 'enclosed'  ni-gdar 'was enclosed'
       goder 'encloses'  ni-gdar 'is enclosed'
       yi-gdor 'will enclose'  yi-gader 'will be enclosed'
       gdor 'enclose!'  hi-gader 'be enclosed!'
       li-gdor 'to enclose'  le-hi-gader 'to be enclosed'

    8. Null morphology (Conversion) ––

       frame  to frame
       dry  to dry
       to run  a run

  2. Conclusion

    The morpheme is the minimal meaningful element of language. There are two kinds of these: (a) lexical (the lexeme) and (b) the grammatical morpheme. The former belong to an open class and refer to the real world, always have a prespecified phonological element which never contracts or cliticizes, and undergo lexical derivation and inflection. The latter belong to closed classes and refer to grammatical categories; they need not contain a prespecified phonological element and, if they do, it may contract and cliticize.

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