MORPHOLOGY (WORD FORMATION)

MORPHOLOGY (WORD FORMATION)

  1. Morphology is the study of the structure of the words.

It is the study of how words are formed out of smaller units called morphemes.

In morphology we study the structure, properties and functions of the minimal meaningful units of  utterances and the way they  combine together to form words.

Key morphological terms which will frequently be used in the study of word formation are;

Morpheme

Affixation

Inflectional process

Derivational process

MORPHEME

A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in the structure of a word (language)

  • This smallest meaningful unit  is indivisible. For example  the word unjust has  two morphemes un (represent negative morpheme) and just (which is  the root)
  • The word unfaithfulness has four morphemes (un+faith+ful+ness)

TYPES OF MORPHEME

There are main types of morphemes;

  1. Free morphemes
  2. Bound morphemes
  3. FREE MORPHEMES

A free morpheme is a morpheme which can stand by itself as a single word in a sentence.

Examples: close, man, girl, you, jump. Etc.

TYPES OF ENGLISH FREE MORPHEMES

Free morphemes fall into two categories:-

Lexical and

Grammatical morphemes

LEXICAL MORHEMES

Are morphemes which represent actual meaning. They represent  concepts, ideas or objects. Examples; boy, dog, fat, slowly .

This category is that set of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs.

They are also called LEXEMES

GRAMMATICAL MORPHEMES (FUNCTIONAL MORPHEMES)

These are morphemes which represent grammatical  functions. They are used only for their grammatical uses so they do not represent any actual meanings. Examples; the, a, and, or, at, is.

  • Functional words are – articles, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions etc
  • They are called GRAMMES

SOME FEATURES OF LEXEMES AND GRAMMES

LEXICAL MORPHEMES

Lexical morphemes are also called OPEN SET or OPEN SYSTEM because;

They are found in indefinite number. Ie their number is not limited.

The function of lexical morphemes does not depend on another

New lexical morphemes are created everyday according to communicative needs

Some particles can be added to them eg nation+al = national, boy+s= boys

GRAMMATICAL MORPHEMES

They are called CLOSED SET or CLOSED SYSTEM because:-

They are found in definite number (you cannot add more)

Their function depend on the functions of other members  in the system

No other particles can be added to them

BOUND MORPHEMES

A bound morpheme is a morpheme which cannot stand on its own in a sentence. They have to be attached to free morphemes

Examples; s, im, -ed, -ful, and –er in the words boys, impossible, played, wonderful, and teacher

A bound morpheme is usually an affix

ROOT AND STEM

  • A root – is a  part of a word which remains when (derivational and inflectional) affixes a have been removed.

OR

A root/base – is a basic element in a word which normally carries the lexical of a concept/idea referred to.

Eg. Words like boy, mother, touch, and good are roots

  • A stem – is a part of word which more affixes can be attached to.

For example the word nation is a root because it cannot be subdivided further. Hwoever the word national in the word nationalize is a stem because it has the root nation and affix “-al” and more affixes can be added to it.

An Affix

An affix is a morpheme (usually a bound one) which can be attached to the root.

TYPES OF AFFIX

  • Prefix – it appears before the root e.g. unkind
  • Infix – it appears inside the root. ( not common in English)
  • Suffix – it appears after the root e.g. faithful

FUNCTIONS OF MORPHEMES

Morphemes assume the following functions;

  • Word base
  • Inflectional function
  • Derivational function
  • WORD BASE

Lexical morphemes assume the function of word base. E.g legalise is derived from lexical morpheme legal

INFLECTIONAL FUNCTION

Usually bound morphemes assume inflectional role. Inflectional function does not change the word class or meaning of the word.

Functions of Inflections/Inflectives

  • They mark nouns for number (plural)

Eg. Boy + s = boys       baby + ies = babies

  • Genitive – eg Jonh’s shirt, Halima’s shop
  • They mark verbs for features like tense, aspect, voice and number

Eg. Clean + ed = cleaned ( past tense)

Repaired car (voice)

  • They mark adjectives for comparative and superlatives degrees

Eg. Tall – taller –  tallest 

  • They mark participle form

Eg. Visiting,  barred

DERIVATIONAL FUNCTION

Is the function of morphemes especially bound morphemes in which the word class or meaning can be altered

Through derivational function the grammar or semantic  can be altered in the following ways;

  • Changing grammatical category of a word e.g. from noun to adjective as in nation and national
  • By changing a subclassification of a root or stem e.g. from a concrete noun to abstract noun e.g. boy – boyhood, leader – leadership, king – kingdom
  • By making slight changes in the meaning of a word
  • The changes may include negation, reversing, dimunition etc.

Eg. Cover – uncover, please – displease, pig – piglet, book – booklet

ALLOMORPHS

These are different forms of morpheme having the same grammatical function

Eg. /s/ in cats, /z/ in boys and /Iz/ in are allomorphs of the plural morphemes.

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