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Morpheme’s Definition. Classification of morphemes.

From the point of view of their morphological structure, words are made up of morphemes. A morpheme is defined as the smallest indivisible language unit in which a given meaning is associated with a given sound-pattern. Like a word, a morpheme is an association of a certain meaning with a certain sound-form; unlike a word, morpheme is not an autonomous unit and can occur in speech only as a constitutive part of a word although a word may consist of a single morpheme.

Morphemes may be classified semantically or structurally.

Semantically morphemes fall into root-morphemesbeing the lexical nucleus of a word and affixational morphemespossessing the part-of-speech meaning (prefixes and suffixes). Root morphemes carry the lexical meaning of a word, make its semantic centre, it is the common element of words within a word-family [heart - hearten - dishearten -heartily - heartless - hearty - heartiness - soft-hearted, etc.] In English a root is very often homonymous of a word. It is one of the most specific features of the English language. Affixes express an additional meaning: they modify the meaning of a root-morpheme [heart - hearten; dark -darken]. According to their function affixational morphemes fall into inflectional and derivational. Inflectional morphemes indicate the grammatical form of words: number, tense, etc. They serve to express grammatical meaning and build different forms of one and the same word [play - plays]. Inflectional are dealt with in a grammar. Derivational morphemes modify the lexical meaning of a stem, and thus form different words [to teach - teachers: the derivational suffix er imparts to the root morpheme the meaning of a doer of the action, whereas inflectional suffix s modifies the grammatical meaning of a word]. According to their position derivational morphemes are classified into prefixes and suffixes. A prefix precedes the root-morpheme, a suffix follows it [disheartened - the semantic centre heart, dis - prefix, en - derivational suffix, ed - inflectional suffix].

When derivational and inflectional morphemes are slipped from a word, there remains astem.

From the structural point of view morphemes are divided into freecoinciding with the stem or a word-form (friend - in friendship), boundoccurring only as a constituent part of a word(- ness, - able, ship; un-, dis-) and semi-free (semi-bound) morphemes functioning both as an affix and as a free morpheme (well, half: half an hour - half-eaten). There exists a special kind of bound morphemes, these are the so-called combining forms. These forms were borrowed from Latin or Greek in which they existed as separate words. They differ from all other borrowings as they occur in compounds and derivatives but they do not exist in their original language. Such compounds were formed only in modern European languages. Combining forms are mostly international [policlinic, stereophonic, telemechanic, etc.] All these words consist of two combining words as distinct from affixes which are characterised either by prepositions to the root (prefixes), or by post-position (suffixes). The same combining form may occur in both positions [phonology - telephone].


An allomorph is a positional variant of a morpheme occurring in a specific environment. They do not differ in meaning or function but show a slight difference in sound-form [please, pleasure, pleasant]. Allomorphs also occur among prefixes. Their form depend on the letter in the initials of the stem with which they assimilate [im, ir, in, il - are all negative prefixes; im occurs before bilabials (imbalanced, impossible), il - before stems beginning with l (illegal), etc.] This is the way Russian linguists understand allomorphs. In American descriptive linguistics allomorphs are treated on a purely semantic basis [dreams, books - s are allomorphs in the sense given above, but also vowel modification in tooth-teeth and zero suffix in sheep-sheep are considered allomorphs due to the sameness of their grammatical meaning]. This approach cannot be accepted because in this case morphemes cease to be linguistic units combining form and meaning, and become pure abstractions.

The Aims and Principles of Morphemic Analysis.

There are two levels of approach to the study of word-structure: the level of morphemic analysis and the level of derivational or word-formation analysis.

The division of a word in morphemes is the purpose of morphemic analysis. The principle of morphemic analysis is the following: if there are at least two words containing the same morpheme, it can be isolated [e.g., in the word enormous suffix ous may be cut off the word as there are words having the same suffix (adventurous, dangerous); the stem enorm can be isolated too as there is the word enormity which makes it possible to isolate the same stem].Morphemic analysis is done in stages: at each stage the word is divided into constituent parts each being a member of a correlating pair or group. The analysis comes to an end, when the words defies further division.

There are three types of morphemic division of words: complete(agreement, information, fearless, quickly), conditionalwhen pseudo-morphemes or quasi-morphemes are present (retain, detain, contain; receive, deceive, perceive but re-write, re-organize; de-code) and defective where unique morphemes may be found (streamlet, ringlet, leaflet are divided into separate morphemes having denotational meanings stream-, ring-, leaf-, so -let has the meaning of diminutives, but in hamlet ham- doesn’t have any denotational meaning as well as in locket, lionet and pocket.

The structural types of words at the morphemic level are described in terms of the number and type of their IC (immediate constituents) as monomorphic or root-words (dog, make) and polymorphic words. Polymorphic words can be divided into monoradical and polyradical. Monoradicalare subdivided into redical-suffixal (acceptable), redical-prefixal (rearrange), prefixo-radical-suffixal (disagreeable). Polyradicalwords fall into words consisting of some roots (book-stand, lamp-shade) and those having roots and affixes (wedding-pie, pen-holder).

Word-Formation Analysis.

Morphemic analysis shows the number of morphemes which make up a word. To show the way a word was formed, it is necessary to use word-formation (derivational) analysis. Derivational level of analysis aims at finding out the derivative types of words, the interrelation between them and in finding out how different types of derivatives are constructed. The basic principle of word-formation analysis is the principle of opposition, i.e. (id est.) studying the partly similar elements the difference between which is functionally relevant. E.g., girl - girlish are the members of a morphemic opposition. They are similar as the root morpheme girl is the same. The distinctive feature is the suffix ish. Due to this suffix the second member of the opposition is a different word belonging to a different part of speech. This binary opposition comprises two elements. A set of binary oppositions makesa correlation. Observing such a correlation of oppositions [girl - girlish, child-childish] it is possible to conclude that there is a type of derived adjectives in English consisting of a noun stem and the suffix ish. The results of morphemic and word-formation analyses practically coincide. There are other cases, however, e.g., the morphemic analysis fails to show the difference between the structure of the verb to inconvenience and the noun impatience, as it classifies both as derivatives. From the point of view of the word-formation pattern, however, they are fundamentally different, because only the noun is formed by derivation, the verb is formed by conversion [the correlations of opposites are: impatience/impatient, patience/patient; inconvenience (v.)/inconvenience (n.), pain (v.)/pain (n.)].

From the point of view of the word-formation structure, words can be divided into non-motivatedandmotivated. Non-motivated words, or simplexes, are simple, not derived words which serve for the formation of new words (hand, come; anxious, public). From the point of view of word-formation analysis, all single-root (monoradical) words are simple, non-motivated words. Motivated words, or complexes,have motivated stemsof different types: derived, compound, compound-derived.

A derived stem is a stem containing one or more affixes. It can be found, e.g., in the word discouragement. According to the principles of morphemic analysis, the word consists of three morphemes; from the point of view of word-formation analysis, we single out the stem discourage and the suffix - ment. This stem is a derived one, for it is derived from another stem courage by means of an affix (the prefix dis).A compound stem is present, e.g., in the word horsemanship. The stem horseman is a compound one, for it is derived from two other stems: horse and man. A compound-derived stem may be found, e.g., in the word softheartedness. The stem softhearted is formed by means of combining stems soft and heart and the affix (suffix) ed. Of special interest are the words comfort - to comfort; paper - to paper, and alike. We should note that verbs and nouns are considered to have different stems: in the nouns the stems are simple, whereas the corresponding verb-stems are derived, motivated by noun-stems.

The basic elementary units of the derivative structures are: derivational basis, derivational affixes, derivational patterns. Derivational bases are not identical with word-stems [dutiful, dutifully, day-dream, day-dreamer]. They are built on the following language units: stems of various structures (unbutton, ex-star as they remain unchanged in all the forms of each word), word-forms (mainly participles - unknown, smilingly), word-groups or phrases (blue-eyed, long-fingered).

Derivational suffixes form derived stems by repatterning derivational bases (-ness applied to the basis in girlishness re-patterns the adjectival stem girlish- into a stem thus forming a new word). Semantically they present a unity of lexical meaning and other types of meaning unlike non-derivational affixes which lack lexical meaning.

Derivational patterns are meaningful arrangements of various types of IC that can be observed in a set of words based on their mutual interdependence. There are two types of derivational patterns: structural that specify base classes and individual affixes (reader, singer: v+er - N; villager, gardener: n+er - N) and structural-semantic that specify semantic peculiarities of bases and the individual meaning of the affix (n+ness- N can be applied to nouns having in their semantic structures a component «a male animate being» - lioness, stewardess) .


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 2699

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