Home ADVANCED LEVEL TOPIC 2: MORPHOLOGY (WORD FORMATION)

TOPIC 2: MORPHOLOGY (WORD FORMATION)

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MORPHOLOGY (WORD FORMATION)

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.

Morphology is the study of the internal structure of words in a language and the rules of how words are formed in a language.

Under this topic we are going to study:

  • Morphemes
  • Word formation 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 two types of morphemes;

  1. 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, open, draw, dress, go, happy,  etc.

TYPES OF FREE MORPHEMES

Free morphemes fall into two categories:-

Lexical Morphemes

Lexical morphemes are morphemes which represent actual meaning. They represent concepts, ideas or objects. They are also called Open Morphemesor Lexemes because they do not on other morphemes and some articles (the, an & a) can be attached to them. This category is that set of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs Examples: man, house, yellow, boy, dog, fat, slowly etc.

Characteristics of Lexical Morphemes

  • They are found in indefinite number i.e. 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 e.g. nation+al = national, boy+s= boys

Grammatical Morphemes (Functional Morphemes)

Functional morphemes are morphemes which represent grammatical functions. They are described as Closed Class their functions depends on the other morphemes in a language. They are used only for their grammatical uses so they do not represent any actual meanings. This type of morphemes consists largely of the function words such as conjunctions, articles, preposition, and pronouns. Examples; the, a, and, or, at, on, under, out, along, between, but, or etc.

Features Grammes/Grammatical Morphemes

  • 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
  1. BOUND MORPHEMES

Bound morphemes are morphemes which cannot stand on their own as a single word in a sentence. They have to be attached to free morphemes. Examples:-s in the word boys,-ed in the word Walked, -ful in the word useful, –er in the word teacheretc.

TYPES OF BOUND MORPHEMES

Derivational Morphemes

Derivational morphemes are those morphemes which when added to the word change the original meaning of the word or when added to a root or stem a new word is formed or derived. For example: –al in the word national, -ness in the word happiness, –er in the word teacher etc.

Inflectional Morphemes

Inflection morphemes are morphemes which when added to the root or stem will not result in the formation of new words. They only indicate aspect of grammatical function of the word. They show plural, singular, tense, comparison or possessive forms. For example: -s in the word boys, -ed in the word opened, -ing in the word teaching,

THE CONCEPT OF ROOT AND STEM

ROOT/BASE

A root is a part of a word which remains when affixes (derivational and/or inflectional morphemes) a have been removed

Or

A root/base is a basic element in a word which normally carries the lexical meaning corresponding to the concept/idea referred to. For example Words like boy, mother, touch, and good are Roots.

STEM

Stem is that part of the word which an affix is attached to it or A stem is a part of word which more affixes can be attached to it. For example the word nation is a root because it cannot be subdivided further. However 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.

FUNCTIONS OF MORPHEMES

Morphemes assume the following functions;

Word base

Lexical morphemes assume the function of word base. Example the basic meaning of the word nationalization is derived from the lexical morpheme nation, the basic meaning of the word legalize is derived from lexical morpheme legal etc.

Inflectional function

Usually inflection morphemes and other bound morphemes assumes inflectional role. Inflectional morpheme does not change the word class or meaning of the word.Functions of Inflections include:

  • They mark nouns for number (plural) e.g. Boy + s = boys, baby + ies = babies
  • Genitive – e.g. John’s shirt, Halima’s shop
  • They mark verbs for features like tense, aspect, voice and number e.g. Clean + ed = cleaned (past tense), Repaired car (voice) etc.
  • They mark adjectives for comparative and superlatives degrees e.g. Tall – taller – tallest
  • They mark participle form e.g. visiting, bared

Derivational function

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 sub-classification 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, diminution etc. e.g. Cover – uncover, please – displease, pig – piglet, book – booklet

WORD FORMATION PROCESSES

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