The most obvious sign in human language is the word

American linguist Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949) -- defined the word as a minimal free form

WORD - the smallest free-standing sign in language

Classification of words

Content words Function words

extra-linguistic meaning

nouns, full verbs, adverb of manner, adjectives

(open classes)  

grammatical "glue"

linking verbs, adverbs of place/time, pronouns, prepositions, articles, conjunctions

(closed classes)

Lexicon = the vocabulary of a language

Lexicology = the study of a language's vocabulary

Morphology = the study of how words are built





MORPHEME - the smallest sign in language (smallest form with a specific meaning)

re + new + able
re + writ(e) + able


 = the study of how words are built

 = set of morphemes + the rules of how they are combined

= "word grammar"

Problems in defining the morpheme

fatter bigger worker teacher screwdriver
fat(t)+er big(g)+er work+er teach+er screwdriv(e)+er

Homomorphs - morphemes with same form but different meanings

-ER1 (comparative):   fat(t) + er   big(g) + er

-ER2 (human agent):  work + er    teach + er

-ER3 (inanimate instrument):   screwdriv(e) + er

redder tiger salamander character can opener hammer

Cranberry morph: appears only in a single word, like "ham" in hammer, also: uncouth, huckleberry, lukewarm, knowledge


- red [r E d]     red in "redder" [r E |]

- fat [f ś t]      fat in "fatter" [f ś |]

ALLOMORPHS = forms with the same meaning but slightly different sound-shapes, and the difference is predictable

sincere /  sincerity   severe / severity      profound/profundity

confuse / confusion,  use / usury

**Both "Morpheme" and "Word" are fuzzy concepts, hard to define

Classification of Morphemes

1. According to their position in the word:

read re+read read+ing rereading
root prefix + root root + suffix prefix + root + suffix

infix:   kilad (red) --> kumilad (be red)  

circumfix:   chokma (it is good) -->  ikchokmo  (it is not good)

lakna (it is yellow) --> iklakno (it is not yellow)

AFFIX TYPES:  prefix, suffix, infix, circumfix,

agglutination:  affixes don't change form when combined

simple fusion:  at least one of the morphemes changes form:

confuse -> confus+ion,  able -> abil+ity, explain -> explan+ation,  electric-> electric+ity,  long -> leng+th

symbolic fusion:  tooth -> teeth,  run -> ran,  take -> took, use (the noun) -> use (the verb)

2.  Types of affixes:

Derivational affixes make new words by adding concrete meanings to old words: 

-er, -ess -hood, -ive, -ness, re-, un-

All English prefixes and most suffixes are derivational.  

Inflectional affixes make different grammatical forms of the same word.  English has only 8 productive inflections:

3 for verbs: -ed, -s, -ing  work+ed, work+s, work+ing
3 for nouns: -s, -'s -'s  boys, boy's, boys'
2 for adjectives:  -er, -est  smart+er, smart+est

There are several unproductive inflections too, like the plural -en in oxen, and the participial -en in given.

                                    stem + ending (inflectional suffix)

3. Classification according to whether morpheme = word

most roots in English most prefixes and suffixes
but: adept, inept (BOUND ROOT) ism (free suffix) ex, pro, con (free prefixes)

4. Classifying words according to morpheme structure

Simple words- a single morpheme:  house, I, the, off, salamander

Complex words - root + at least 1 affix:  worker, reread, retelling

anti + dis + establish +ment + ari + an +ism

Compound words - 2 roots:  ashtray, mailbox, lazybones

Minor word formation techniques (major ones are compounding and affixation)

1. null affixation  sheep (is) vs. sheep (are)

zero morpheme        morphological conversion

2. reduplication (common in Hawaiian) 

- wiki move fast ->  wikiwiki quickhelu count-> heluhelu read.  partial reduplication:  'uku flea --> 'u'uku tiny 

3. blend  smog (smoke + fog) Great Eggspectations

4. abbreviations (several types)

clipping, or clipped wordgrad, prof, dorm, Liz, Flo, Ed, Al.  

stub compound:  polysci, sci-fi, physed

true acronymscuba, radar, AIDS. 

alphabetism: DJ, VIP, OK, USA

5.   back formation: enthusiasm -> enthuse;  action -> act

also:  cherry <cherise, pea < pease

6. agglomerations: irregardless, komiksy, Zaliv Pyudzhet Saund. 

7. eponym (proper noun becomes a common noun): sandwich, Sequoia, sideburns, hooker.  

Minor inflectional techniques:

symbolic fusion (only in some noun plurals, some denominal verbs, and some past tense verbs)

suppletion (change the morpheme instead of adding an affix): 

bad -> worse,  good -> better,  go -> went, is -> was,  am, is, are

partial suppletion:  was -> were, teach -> taught