Morphology

MORPHOLOGY

Words and morphemes. Morphemic structure of English words.

 Morphology as a part of grammar studies the ways in which words are constructed out of morphemes which have a meaning and/or grammatical function. There are two domains of morphology: lexical morhpology studies the way in which new items of vocabulary can be built out of morphemes; inflectional morphology studies the way words vary in their form in order to express a grammatical contrast.

Morphology deals with two main lingual units: the morpheme and the word.

 Morpheme is the smallest unit of morphology. L. Bloomfield defines morpheme as the smallest meaningful unit in a given language.

e.g. The word “unladylikeconsists of 3 morphemes—“un-lady-like”;

The word “dogs” consist of 2 morphemes—“dog-s”;

The word “technique” consists of only one morpheme.

Traditional grammar describes morphemes on the basis of two criteria:

  • Positional criteria, which takes into consideration the position of a morpheme in a word, and
  • semantic (functional) criteria, which takes into consideration the minimal meaning each morpheme contributes to the meaning of the whole word.

 

Traditional-classification-of-morphemes

Thus, morphemes are divided into:

  • roots, which convey a concrete, material meaning of a word, and
  • affixes, which convey more abstract, but specific meaning.

Affixes, in their turn, can be subdivided into:

  • prefixes, which have word-building functions;
  • lexical suffixes, which have word-building functions (word-building suffixes);
  • grammatical suffixes (inflections), which express different grammatical categories. In English grammatical suffixes have a peculiar character; in many languages, e.g. Russian, inflections often bear several meanings in one form (e.g. ом in the word топором means that the word is singular, has masculine gender, instrumental case). In English grammatical suffixes bear only one meaning (e.g. “rooms”; -s means only plural)

Structural grammar, by applying so-called distributional analysis, gave another classification of morphemes. For example, morphemes may be treated as free and bound:

Free morphemes  can be used as single words (they can stand alone).

e.g. allow, boy, spider, car, race, bastard, sick, the, on, etc.

Free morphemes can further be subdivided into two major groups:

a) free lexical morphemes (content words) have some kind of independent, identifiable meaning, i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs

b) free functional morphemes (function words) largely serve to express a grammatical relationship, i.e. prepositions, articles, conjunctions, pronouns

Bound morphemes never exist as words themselves but are always attached to some other morpheme.

Bound morphemes can be further subdivided into four groups:

a) derivational morphemes (type 1) change the meaning of a word

     e.g. re-, pre-, ex-, dis-, co-, sub-, semi-, un-, etc.

b) derivational morphemes (type 2) change the part of speech (word class) of a word

e.g. –ish, -ment, -ness, -al, etc.

c) inflectional morphemes (grammatical suffixes) signal a grammatical relationship such as tense, aspect, number, case, etc.

d) bound bases are elements which seem to be the base but which do not occur as free lexical morphemes, e.g. English –ceive (perceive), -duce (induce), -ept, -cest etc

Morphemes are abstract ideas: in speech may exist as allomorphs, i.e. the different forms a morpheme can take.

e.g. Plural morphemes: cats, dogs, foxes, children, fish, men

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Grammatical category and grammatical meaning.

Grammatical category and grammatical meaning are basic notions of grammar.

The category in logic: the most general notions reflecting the most general properties of  some phenomena

The category in logic is the most general notions reflecting the most general properties of some phenomena. A grammatical category is a set of syntactic features that:

  • express meaning from the same conceptual domain (e.g. idea of number, i.e. singularity vs. plurality);
  • occur in contrast to each other (e.g. a car-cars, a cat-cats);
  • are typically expressed in the same fashion (e.g. -s is a typical way to express plurality, though there are other means, for example, vowel interchange: man-men).

A grammatical category is a system of expressing a generalized grammatical meaning by means of paradigmatic correlation of grammatical forms.

A set of grammatical forms expressing a categorical function is called a paradigm.

Some features of a grammatical category:

  • Any grammatical category must be represented by at least two grammatical forms. There’re no languages in which you could find only one case form or one form of number. A set of grammatical forms expressing a categorical function through oppositions is called a paradigm. In grammar oppositions may be

binary privative—opposition of a strong (marked) and a weak member (e.g. work – worked; worked is a strong member, -ed is the marker);

equipollentmembers of the opposition have different distinctive features (e.g. is-am-are);

gradual opposition—members have a feature of different degree (e.g. strong-stronger-the strongest).

Binary privative opposition is most frequent in grammar.

  • No grammatical category can be represented by all the word forms of the word. If some grammatical meaning is inherent in all the word forms of the given word, we shall deal here not with a grammatical category but with lexico-grammatical category. Such is the Category of Gender in Russian. We cannot change the noun according to the category of Gender, i.e. masculine, feminine, neuter. The set meanings of Gender are inherent in certain nouns. Some nouns belong to masculine gender, other — to feminine, and still other — neuter.
  • One word form may combine different grammatical categories, e.g.  the form » speaks » combines 5 categories (grammatical meanings) —tense, 3rd person, singular number, indicative mood, active voice.
  • No word form can combine 2 categorial meanings (grammatical meaning of the same category) of one and the same category. You can not find singular and plural in one word form simultaneously.
  • Every word form must represent at least one categorial form or belong to some grammatical category. There are no word forms without grammatical categories.

Different parts of speech have different number of grammatical categories.

Grammatical meaning is very abstractive generalized meaning peculiar to classes of words. It is the part of meaning that varies from one inflectional form to another (as from ‘plays’ to ‘played’ to ‘playing’). Grammatical meaning in different languages can be expressed in several ways — synthetical (via inflections) and analytical (via auxiliary words, such as auxiliary verbs etc.).
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The theory of grammatical classes of words

A word class is a group of words which, from a grammatical point of view, behave in the same way. Word classes are equivalent to parts of speech.

Grammarians propose different criteria to distinguish classes of words, for example, Henry Sweet offered 3 main criteria:

  1. Semantic: words of one class share the same general meaning (e.g. All nouns express the general idea of thingness);
  2. Formal: words of one class have common formal elements to express grammatical and lexical meaning (e.g. nouns have the same grammatical marker of plural—inflection –s/-es; common word formation affixes, such as –ship, -er etc.);
  3. Functional: words of one class have the same function in a sentence (e.g. nouns typically act as subject, objects or predicatives in a sentence).

Another approach (syntactic-distributional)  was suggested by structuralists (Bloomfield, Harris, Fries). Charles Fries chose only one principle in delimiting parts of speech— the principle of function. The speaker gets signals of common classes of words from the position the word occupies in the sentence and it function. The meaning of the word is unnecessary. For example, in a nonsensical sentence “Woggles ugged diggles” the function of all words is clearly understood, “woggles” being the doer of the action, “ugged” being the action and “diggles” being the object of the action. The words which have a similar set of positions belong to a common class.

Different words were tested on the three typical sentences used as substitution test-frames:

Frame A. The concert was good (always).

Frame B. The clerk remembered the tax (suddenly).

Frame C. The team went there.

The signals of structural meaning (thingness or action) are called by Fries “Formal classes”.

Class 1. (A) concert, coffee, taste, container, difference, etc. (B) clerk, husband, supervisor, etc.; tax, food, coffee, etc. (C) team, husband, woman, etc.

Class 2. (A) was, seemed, became, etc. (B) remembered, wanted, saw, suggested, etc. (C) went, came, ran,… lived, worked, etc.

Class 3. (A) good, large, necessary, foreign, new, empty, etc.

Class 4. (A) there, here, always, then, sometimes, etc.

(B)    clearly, sufficiently, especially, repeatedly, soon, etc.

Also Fries distinguished 154 units of functional words.

Fries’s classification is based on a very interesting idea, though the traditional classification is more widely adopted.
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Notional (lexical/open) and functional (closed) classes of words (parts of speech)

Traditionally, all parts of speech are divided into notional (open) and functional (closed).

 Notional parts of speech have lexical meaning (nominative ability) and can perform various syntactic functions in a sentence. They are productive classes (new members may appear), and they are mostly variable (they may change their morphological form).

Traditionally the following notional parts of speech are distinguished: noun, verb, adjective, adverb.

 Functional parts of speech are non-productive (they have a limited number of members). They are invariable and do not have any lexical meaning.

Traditionally the following functional parts of speech are distinguished: article, preposition, conjunction, interjection.

The division of words into notional and functional is not very strict. For example, some grammarians argue that the articles shall be treated as functional parts of speech, while other linguists doubt the  status of pronouns.

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CHECK YOU UNDERSTANDING

What is the smallest meaningful unit in a language?

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Morpheme

 

What type of bound morphemes typically expresses grammatical meaning in English?

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Inflectional morphemes

 

What do we call a set of grammatical forms expressing a categorical function (such as declension or conjugation)?

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A paradigm

 

By which means is grammatical meaning typically expressed in synthetical languages?

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By inflection/bound morphemes

 

By which means is grammatical meaning typically expressed in analytic languages?

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Independent words/auxiliary words

 

True or false?

A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language.

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True

 

True or false?

Grammatical meaning can be expressed in English by means of free grammatical morphemes.

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True

 

True or false?

English is a highly synthetical language.

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False

 

True or false?

Morphology mainly deals with the sentence as a lingual unit.

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False

 

True or false?

There are no inflectional morphemes in English.

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False

 

True or false?

Any grammatical category must be represented by at least two grammatical forms.

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True

 

True or false?

One word can combine different grammatical categories.

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True

 

True or false?

Grammatical meaning is very specific and unique for each separate word.

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False

True or false?

All grammatical elements in English are free morphemes.

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False

 

Which opposition represents the grammatical category of tense?

a)      (He) listens – (he) is listening

b)      (we) go – (he) goes

c)      (She) does – (she) did

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c)

Which opposition represents the grammatical category of aspect?

a)      (We) know – (we) have known

b)      (They) let – (they) will let

c)      (he) was looking – (he) is looking

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a)

 

Which opposition represents the grammatical category of person and number?

a)      (my) dog – (my) dogs

b)      (he) is – (they) are

c)      (he) is bored – (he) was bored

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b)

 

Which opposition represents the grammatical category of voice?

a)      (he) goes – (he) went

b)      (we) work – (we) are working

c)      (it) does – (it) is done

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c)

 

Which grammatical category is presented by the following opposition?

beautiful (girl)—more beautiful (girl)

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Degrees of comparison

 

Which grammatical category is presented by the following opposition?

the teachers—the teachers’ (notes)

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Case

Morphology: Practical tasks and assignments

 

Task 1

There are eight inflectional suffixes in English. Provide them all.

Two Noun inflections:                    _____________________

Four Verb inflections:           _____________________

Two Adjective inflections:     _____________________

 

Task 2

Morphological Analysis

Analyze each of the items below morphologically. Determine

 

(a) how many morphemes each item contains (1 or more than 1);

(b) if there is more than one morpheme, which are free and which bound;

(c) if there is more than one morpheme, which are derivational and which inflectional;

(d) if there is more than one morpheme, which one is the root; and what are the remaining morphemes: prefixes or suffixes;

(e) whether the words are simple or compound,

(f) if there are inflectional suffixes, are they regular or irregular?

1 re-established

2 spaghetti

3 apologize

4 statements

5 snowboarding

 

 

 

Keys:

Task 1

There are eight inflectional suffixes in English. Provide them all.

Two noun inflections: (e)s (plurality); ‘s (possessive)

Four verb inflections: -(e)s (third person singular); -ed (past simple); -ing (participle one);-en (past simple irregular) (recognized as typical by some grammarians);

Two adjective inflections: -er, -est (degrees of comparison)

 

Task 2

Morphological Analysis

Analyze each of the items below morphologically. Determine

 

(a) how many morphemes each item contains (1 or more than 1);

(b) if there is more than one morpheme, which are free and which bound;

(c) if there is more than one morpheme, which are derivational and which inflectional;

(d) if there is more than one morpheme, which one is the root; and what are the remaining morphemes: prefixes or suffixes;

(e) whether the words are simple or compound (formed by composition)

and finally,

(f) if there are inflectional suffixes, are they regular or irregular?

 

 

­1. re-established – simple word; 3 morphemes

re- —bound, prefix, derivational;

establish—free, root;

-ed—bound, suffix, inflectional, regular

2. spaghetti—one free morpheme

3. apologize – simple word; 2 morphemes

apolog- —bound, root;

-ize—bound, derivational;

4. statements — simple word; 3 morphemes

state—free, root;

-ment—bound, suffix, derivational;

-s—bound, suffix, inflectional.

5. snowboarding – compound word; 3 morphemes

snow—free, root;

board—free, root;

-ing—bound, suffix, word-building.

 

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