You are on page 1of 11

Morphology Martos Alfitri 1



Morphology Martos Alfitri 2

Morphology is the study of the construction of words out of morphemes


The morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. (lexical and

grammatical meaning) A morpheme must have a meaning, and it is the smallest unit
of meaning (the smallest sound-meaning union which cannot be further analyzed into
smaller units).
The word lady can be divided into two syllables (la.dy), but it consists of just
one morpheme, because a syllable has nothing to do with meaning.
The word un forgettable can be divided three morphemes (dis+agree+able).
The word books contains only one syllable, but it consists of two morphemes
(book+s) (Notice: the morpheme –s has a grammatical meaning [Plural])

The internal structure of words

Words can have an internal structure, i.e. they are decomposable into smaller
meaningful (lexical or grammatical) parts. These smallest meaningful units we call

read+er re+read en+able dark+en

Mary+’s print+ed cat+s go+es

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

Morphology Martos Alfitri 3
2. Types of affixes:
• Derivational
Derivational affixes (create new meaning) make new words by adding concrete
meanings to old words:
-er, -ess -hood, -ive, -ness, re-, un- etc
Examples of Derivational Affixes

Prefix Grammatical category of Grammatical category of Example

base output
in- Adj Adj inaccurate
un- Adj Adj unkind
un- V V untie
dis- V V dis-like
dis- Adj Adj dishonest
re- V V rewrite
ex- N N ex-wife
en- N V encourage

Suffix Grammatical category of Grammatical category of Example

base output
-hood N N child-hood
-ship N N leader-ship
-fy N V beauti-fy
-ic N Adj poet-ic
-less N Adj power-less
-ful N Adj care-ful
-al V N refus-al
-er V N read-er

V-N : (to) print printer

V - Adj: print printable
V-V : print re-print

N-V : flea de-flea

N – Ad : milk milky
N-N : mother motherhood
Morphology Martos Alfitri 4

Adj - N : happy happiness

Adj - V : thick thicken
Adj - Adj : happy unhappy

Derivation typically adds a new lexical meaning component:

(7) printable: ‘such that can be printed’

motherhood: ‘property of being a mother’
thicken: ‘become or cause to become thicker’

Derivation is recursive (feeds into itself):

(8) in-de-cipher-abil-ity
Inflection (inflectional morphology)
Creates word forms of a lexeme

(9) CAT:
cat (Singular) cats (Plural)

(10) a. SING:
sing Base form
sings 3sg Present Tense
singingPresent Participle
sang Past Tense
sung Past Participle (Perfect/Passive Participle)

b. WALK:
walk Base form
walks 3sg Present Tense
walking Present Participle
walked Past Tense
walked Past Participle (Perfect/Passive Participle)
Morphology Martos Alfitri 5
(12) a. COLD:
cold Positive
colder Comparative
coldest Superlative

b. GOOD:
good Positive
better Comparative
best Superlative
Morphological operations
Morphological operation =def ‘concrete change made to a word form in order to
signal a derivational or inflectional process’

Other operations in English:

Vowel change:
man ~ men
sing ~ sang ~ sung

Sometimes this accompanies affixations:

break ~ broke ~ broken (= broke + en)
write ( ~ wrote) ~ written

Consonant change:
house [haus] ~ (to) house [houz]
knife [naif] ~ knives [naivz]

Stress shift:
(a) cóntrast ~ (to) contrást N~V
(Languages with tones may use tone alternations to realize grammatical processes)

Conversion: word of one class treated as belonging to a different class without any
overt morphological operation:
N V:paper ~ to paper (the wall)
skin ~ to skin a rabbit
Morphology Martos Alfitri 6
head ~ to head a department, an inquiry, a phrase
police ~ to police a town, a regulation
V N:walk ~ go for a walk
fall ~ take a fall
sleep ~ get a good night’s sleep
Also phrasal verbs:
take off ~ a smooth take off
put down ~ a cruel put down
run through ~ a quick run through (one’s lecture)
A N:the good, the bad and the ugly
N A:orange (balloon), primrose (wallpaper)
A V wet (the paper), dry (the dishes)
Types of inflectional processes
All English prefixes and most suffixes are derivational.

• Inflectional
Affixes can be divided into inflectional morphemes and derivational
morphemes. This reflects two major morphological (word building) processes:

Inflectional Morphemes
Inflectional morphemes do not change grammatical category of the base to which
they are attached. They do not change the meaning of the base. They only carry
relevant grammatical information, e.g. plural. Thus, book and books are both nouns
referring to the same kind of entity.

The number of inflectional affixes is small and fixed. NO new ones have been added
since 1500.

Suffix Stem Function Example

-s N Plural book-s

-s V 3rd singular sleep-s

present tense
-ed V past tense walk-ed
Morphology Martos Alfitri 7
-ing V Progressive walk-ing

-er Adj Comparative tall-er

-est Adj Superlative tall-est

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)
reprints ‘ Present Tense RE[PRINT]] = ‘print again’’

prefix root suffix

re print s

3. Classification according to whether morpheme = word

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

4. Classifying words according to morpheme structure

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

Morphology Martos Alfitri 8

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

anti + dis + establish +ment + ari + an +ism
Compound words can be distinguished into three forms; they are solid, hyphenated
and open
1. Motorway Double-decker Deep freeze
2. Handbook Box-office Bank account
3. Hardware Hard-cover Credit card
4. Timewarm Snow-white etc.
5. Outside In-law
6. Feedback Check-in
7. brainwork Frog-eating-bird

Word-formation processes


• Affixation: process of forming words by adding affxes to morphemes.

{ V + -able ! A: predict+ -able
{ V + -er ! N: sing+er
{ un + A ! A: un-productive
{ A + en ! V: deep+ -en, thick+ -en

• Compounding: word formation process by which new words are formed by

combining two or more independent words.
{ A + A ! A: bittersweet
{ N + N ! N: rainbow
{ V + V ! V: sleepwalk
{ P + P ! P: without
{ V + N ! N: pickpocket
{ N + V ! V: spoonfeed
{ P + V ! V: overdo
Morphology Martos Alfitri 9

• Reduplication: process of forming new words either by doubling an entire

word (total reduplictation) or part of a word (partial reduplication).
{ English: humpty-dumpty, higgledy-piggeldy
(partial reduplication)
{ Creole: blak \black", blakblak \very black" (total

• Morpheme-internal Changes: a type of word formation process wherein a

word changes internally to indicate grammatical information.
{ ablaut: sing, sang, sung; swim, swam, swum
{ other changes: man, men; mouse, mice, goose,

• Suppletion: a relationship between forms of a word wherein on form cannot

be phonologically or morphologically derived from the other, this process is
{ am - was; go -went
{ good - better; bad - worse


extreme form of reduction; -are formed from the initial letters of a set of other words
2 kind of them: “alphabetisisms”->CD, DNA-pronunciation consist of the set of
letters; -second are pronounced as a single word-> NATO, NASA, UNESCO, PIN
some acronyms lose their capitals to become everyday terms -> laser

a word of one type(usu a noun) is reduced to form another word of a different
type(usu a verb); -worker->work, donation->donate…hypocorisms-a longer word is
Morphology Martos Alfitri 10
reduced to a single syllable, then –y or –ie is added to the end: movie, telly-
Synchronic perspective on language-together; at the same point of time
Diachronic perspective on language-not together; in different points of time; showing
changes, how the language evolve in time.

taking only the beginning of one word and joining it to the end of the other word;
clipped and then compounded word eg. smog (smoke +fog), motel, bit, brunch,
telecast, Chunnel.

very common word –formation process; it’s social phenomenon means, the taking
over of words from other languages; -it takes place when a speaker of one culture
come to contact with another one; -the borrowing will be taken from the most
influential culture
Loan-words – words adapted from other languages
Loan-translation (calque) – it’s a direct translation of the elements of a word into the
borrowing language.
There’s always change in phonological structure.

clip=to cut; -making words shorter, reducing them; a word of more then one syllable
is reduced to a shorter form; -esp in casual speech; -gas, bus, piano, bra

The invention of totally new terms
Proper names or trade names for one company’s product become general terms for
any version of that product.(eg. kleenex, Guy Fox->guy(any human being); -meaning
of the words is broaden and broaden.

Morphology Martos Alfitri 11
a change in the function of a word(eg. when the noun comes to be used as a verb
without any reduction)other names are: “category change” I “functional shift”; very
productive in English, do not exist in Polish eg. cut,paper, butter, bottle, vecation, spy.
some converted forms shift in meaning when they change the category.

Reduce sentence into some letters e.g. I C Q : I Seek You, C U : See you, SQR :
secure, etc.

Words created from sound
e.g. Meauw > Cat, etc.