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Introduction to Linguistics I
English Morphosyntax
I. Morphology
Words, morphemes, and allomorphs
Words can be decomposed into smaller meaningful elements that linguists call morphemes.
car-s
re-consider
over-general-iz-ation
A morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit that has meaning or a grammatical
function.
Some morphemes can be realized in more than one way, i.e. a morpheme canhave
different forms in different environments. The variants of a morpheme are called
allomorphs. Examples:
1. dog-[z]
2. cat-[s]
3. bush-[@z]
The form of a morpheme is based on its pronunciation, i.e. the spelling is irrelevant.
Writer
[r]
Editor
[r]
Liar
[r]
Homophones are different morphemes that have the same morphological form.
Cats
[s]
Frank’s
[s]
Walks
[s]
Classification ofmorphemes

Content morpheme vs. function morpheme
content: N, V, ADJ, ADV (open class)
function: P, COMP, DET, PRO, bound morpheme (closed class)
1

Free morphemes vs. bound morphemes
cat
walk-ed
The expression to which a bound morpheme is attached is called the stem, e.g. in
believable ‘believe’ is the stem, and in unbelievable ‘believable’ is the stem (cf.
root and base).
Affixes: prefixes, suffixes, infixes, circumfixes
Prefix
un-happy
de-compose
Suffixes
dog-s
read-able
Borrowing and historical change can make morphology ‘messy’.
1. ‘Cranberry’ morphemes
cran-berry
luke-warm
2. Latinate words
inter-est
(Lat. inter+esse)
inter-change
pre-dict
(Lat. pre+dicere)
pre-cut
Derivation vs. inflection
1. Derivational morphemes can change the category of aword.
free (ADJ)
>
freedom (N)
derivation
kill (V)
>
killer (N)
derivation
category (N) >
categorize (V)
derivation
talk (V)
>
talked (V)
inflection
2. Derivational morphemes are less productive than inflectional morphemes (e.g. –hood
occurs with half a dozen words in English while –ed is attached to almost every noun).
3. Derivational morphemes tend to have more concrete meaningsthan inflectional
morphemes.
4. Derivational morphemes occur closer to the stem than inflectional morphemes.
expect-ation-s
2
English has 8 inflectional suffixes:
3 person singular
past tense
progressive
past participle
plural
possessive
comparative
superlative
waits
waited
waiting
eaten
cars
Peter’s
faster
fastest
Suppletion, Umlaut, Ablaut
Suppletion is
am went
go wellgood us
we
Umlaut feet
foot mice
mouse teeth
tooth
Ablaut sang
sing sang
sing swam
swim
sung
sung
swum
Compounding


Endocentric compounds include an element that designates the ‘type’ of the
compound; this element is commonly called the ‘head’ of the compound. The other
element functions like a modifier of the head.
Exocentric compounds do not have a designated head.Endocentric compounds (dvandva)
armchair
dinner table
seasick
word stress
pain-free
Exocentric compounds (bahuvrihi)
skinhead
pickpocket
handout
afternoon
underground
3
Word coinage
Borrowing
alcohol (Arabic)
essay (French)
kindergarten (German)
yogurt (Turkish)
Coinage
chirrup
blatant
glance
Eponyms
Sandwich
Pentium
Kodak
xerox
Blending > smoke
Smoke + fog > motel
Motor+ hotel > brunch
Breakfast + lunch > chunnel
Channel + tunnel
Clipping > bike
Bicycle > gas
Gasoline > phone
Telephone > ad
Advertisement
Backformation
Established pattern
to exhibit – exhibit-or
printer – to print
book – book-s
Back formation
>>
>>
>>
editor
laser
pease (Sg)
Acronyms
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Daio detectingand ranging
Conversion
bridge
command
open
>
>
>
> to edit
> to lase
> pea
> AIDS
> NATO
> radar
to bridge (cf. to mail, to mushroom, to data-bank)
a command (cf. a dump, a guess, a kiss)
to open (cf. to better, to dirty, to empty)
4
II. Overview of grammatical categories
Parts-of-speech (lexical categories)









Nouns (N)
Inflection:
Derivation:...
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