A Contrastive Analysis of English and Vietnamese Morphemes Đinh Lý Vân Khanh Class 4A06 University of Pedagogy

It is the aim of this paper that will help readers to be clear about this term as well as the similarities and differences in the way it is present in English and Vietnamese. 6). we must learn and understand about its basic element: morphemes. a language is formed by four constituent parts: the phonological system. 2004. Therefore. in order to understand how words in different languages are formed. p. In term of linguistics. . according to Eugene A Nida. the morphological systems.Morphemes 2 Abstract As you all know. first. is the study and description of word-structure and word-formation of a language. Morphology. the syntactic system. which is based on the morphological system. and the semantic system. morphology is known as “the study of morphemes and their arrangements in forming words” (Nguyen.

So what are morphemes here? According to Eugene Nida. However. and has phonetic value. p. is a unit of language that carries meaning and consists of one or more morphemes which are linked more or less tightly together. morphemes are the smaller parts of word which contribute to the meaning of that word. p. For examples. As we can see from this definition. we can divide it into “teach” and “-er” meaning “the person who does the action”. Just bear in mind that whenever we can separate a word into smaller meaningful parts. then we can have morphemes. we may have morphemes (Từ tố). “morphemes are the minimal meaningful units which may constitute word or parts of words” (Nguyen. with the word “teach” in English. Morphemes. 2004. Syllables Word. 2004. A word. 10). with the word “teacher”. Ex: In English: One –1 syllable . therefore. In other words. and get two morphemes here.Morphemes 3 A Contrastive Analysis of English and Vietnamese Morphemes Morphemes Definition Today we know that words are not the smallest units of meaning in language. 9). Words. morphemes are the smallest components of a word which contribute to its meaning. Syllable (âm tiết) “is a unit of speech which is often longer than one sound and smaller than a whole word” (Nguyen. If we take a word and separate it into smaller parts. as for StateMaster-Encyclopedia. can contain one or more than one morphemes. here we have one morpheme which is also the word.

a-. we must accept them and should not try to bring our native language’s knowledge of syllables to produce words from other languages. Xamalôt Russian 1 3 (xam-. English Interesting: interest => free morpheme . hóa) Knowing how to distinguish words. máy) 3 (công. -ma. Dog English 1 1 2. Dogs English 1 2 (dog. syllables in different languages are very different. The table below will give you more clear examples about these three terms Language Word Morpheme 1. duc-. Types of Morphemes According to meanings. and a word can contain one or more than one syllables. Unproductive English 1 3 (un-. lôt) 5. -ive) 4. -lôt) 2 (nhà. syllables can be very useful in analyzing and contrasting languages in term of word-structure and word-formation. bound morphemes are those that cannot stand alone but have to be attached to the beginning and ending of other morphemes to form words. Nhà máy Vietnamese 1 2 (nhà. pro-. Just like morphemes.Morphemes 4 Water – 2 syllables (wa-. Công nghiệp hóa Vietnamese 1 3 (Công. Free morphemes are those that can stand alone as a word. -ter) Information – 4 syllables (in-. hóa) Syllable 1 1 4 (un-. Therefore. In contrast. -s) 3. máy) 6. morphemes. morphemes can be categorized into two types: free morphemes and bound morphemes. ma-. -for. -tive) 3 (xa-. product. nghiệp. bigger or equal to a syllable. Ex: 1. nghiệp. They usually occur in the central place of word-structure. -tion) A morpheme can be smaller.

For example. As a result. Vietnamese Nhà cửa: nhà => free morpheme cửa => free morpheme Ca sĩ: ca => free morpheme sĩ => bound morpheme Vui vẻ: vui => free morpheme vẻ => bound morpheme Free morphemes mostly function as the roots in words which have principal meaning while bound morphemes are the affixes which modify the basic meaning of the roots. there are two types of morphemes: lexical morphemes and grammatical morpheme. suffixes in words are lexical morphemes. we can find numerous lexical morphemes but limited grammatical ones in a language. Most roots.Morphemes 5 -ing => bound morpheme Dislike: like => free morpheme dis. in English. . The morpheme “-ed” refers to the simple past tense in English and it is a grammatical morpheme. According to functions. prefixes. the morpheme “aqua” is a lexical morpheme which means “water”. Lexical morphemes are morphemes that determine the main meaning of words whereas grammatical morphemes are those that decide the grammatical function of them.=> bound morpheme Weaken: weak => free morpheme -en => bound morpheme 2.

over-. Ex: childhood. in contrast. there are many groups of English prefixes according to their own meanings. mono-) … 2. discontinue. refusal. As a result. toys. Suffixes Suffixes are bound morphemes that follow the root. bound morphemes in English are those that cannot stand alone as separated words and must be attached to others to form words. pre-. There are a large number of bound morphemes in English which are categorized into two main types: prefixes. . Derivational suffixes are those that can influence the meaning and change the word class of the word they are added in. friendly. Prefixes Prefixes are bound morphemes that are attached at the beginning of a root. poly-. multi-. e. That means a single word in English can contain many morphemes. it has a high morpheme-per-word ratio. rewrite. number prefixes (bi-. Ex: inaccurate. suffixes. malfunction … All prefixes in English are lexical morphemes which carry lexical meanings.Morphemes 6 English Morphemes Since English belongs to synthetic languages. counter-). kindness. Inflectional suffixes. negative prefixes (un-. worked. dis. prefixes of time and order (fore-. prefixes of degree and size (super-. post-). ex-major. out-.…). anti-. non-. 1. which are mainly bound morphemes. sub-). prefixes of attitude (co-. impossible. are grammatical morphemes which carry only the grammatical information of the word. singing. unkind. plays… There are two kinds of suffixes in English which are derivational suffixes and inflectional suffixes. Thus.g.

Since its words consist of many morphemes and have the main structure: root + affix morphemes. p. according to many linguists. 2004. it is easier for us to recognize English words than its . English suffixes can be categorized into four groups according to the part of speech: noun suffixes. Therefore. and adverb suffixes.Morphemes 7 Ex: Derivational Suffixes fail (v) refuse (v) hope (n) act (n) weak (a) civil (a) Inflectional Suffixes There are eight types of inflectional suffixes in English (Nguyen. adjective suffixes. verb suffixes. 22): a) The noun possessive morpheme: {-s1}: Bill’s b) The noun plural morpheme: {-s2}: cars c) The verb present third person singular morpheme: {-s3}: flies d) The verb present participle morpheme: {-ing1}: singing e) The verb past tense morpheme: {-ed1}: ended f) => => => => => => failure (n) refusal (n) hopeful (a) active (a) weaken (v) civilize (v) The verb past participle morpheme: {-ed2}: worked g) Comparative morpheme: {-er}: nicer h) Superlative morpheme: {-est}: nicest Like prefixes. it is not always easy to identify morphemes in English.

+ -na + -ger Superman => Morpheme: super. Ex: manager => Morpheme: manage. cuộc. xanh xanh. đang …) Vietnamese bound morphemes are still exist but in a very limited number and very different from English. man Syllable: su. In English. nước. đã. sẽ. they are separated words that cannot occur alone to form words. morphemes can be bigger.Morphemes 8 morphemes. . lạch bạch …). we can know that nearly all morphemes in Vietnamese as well as in isolating languages are free morphemes and they functions as single words (nhà. they function as reduplicative elements (đo đỏ. Generally. Firstly. đất. sự. lưa thưa. việc. -er Syllable: ma. especially isolating ones. smaller or equal to syllables. Besides.+ -per+ -man Eye => Morpheme: eye Syllable: eye Vietnamese Morphemes Unlike English. Secondly. From this. they are nearly all suffixes and only carry lexical information. Vietnamese belongs to isolating language which has words composed by single morpheme. That means a single word in Vietnamese often contains only one morpheme which is also the word. since it is a synthetic languages. there are fewer free morphemes occurring alone as a word in English than other languages.

All Vietnamese syllables are equal to morphemes. we will have a new word “bố mẹ”.+ -duct Rea. Since the boundary between words and morphemes in Vietnamese are unclear and blurred. these two words have a relationship with each other since each of them refers to the person who brings up a child. The easiest unit that can be recognized in Vietnamese is syllables. it is the combination of separated words which have the relationship with each other in meaning to form a new word. Instead. Spontaneously. when we put them together.+ -tion Pro.Morphemes 9 Vietnamese words are not formed by root + affix morphemes like English. and a large amount of them are even equal to words. For example. Therefore. Let take a look at the table below and you will see the differences between syllables and morphemes in English and Vietnamese: Vietnamese Syllable Morpheme Tổ + quốc Tổ + quốc Sản + xuất Sản + xuất Đọc + giả Đọc + giả Năng + xuất Năng +xuất English Syllable Na. it is very easy for us to be mistaken about these two units.+ -der Pro-+ -duc + -ti+ -vi+ -ty Morpheme Nation product Read + -er Product + -iv(e)+ -ity . “bố” + “mẹ” are the two separated words which have their own meanings when standing alone.

I think you can figure out what the method I want to say here is. And once you can make a clear distinction about English and Vietnamese word structure. learning English is definitely not an easy task. Through what I have mentioned about morphemes in this paper. learning word structure in English as well as other languages are very important and must be taught to students in order to acquire the language easily. Therefore. our learning must be much easier. As people all know. it can help you predict and guess the meaning of the new words effectively without wasting too much time.Morphemes 10 Conclusion For some Vietnamese people. some people usually lean on the dictionary for meaning. which you probably know their meanings before. one of those difficulties is its new vocabulary items. you will feel more comfortable when writing or translating both languages. When meeting a new vocabulary. . Since you have already known that English words are formed by smaller morphemes. Therefore. Others will try to predict it through the context. These ways are actually good but can waste us a lot of time for looking up or reading the whole sentences or paragraphs. if we know another effective way to understand difficult words in English. They can encounter many difficulties that will keep them from mastering this language.

. Doan. (2004).khoaanh. G. Ha Noi: Ha Noi National University Press Nguyen. 2009. Q. T.khoaanh: Word Formation in English and Vietnamese. Retrieved December 28. Ho Chi Minh City: University of Education Press Nguyen. Word.php/6/Topic_5_CA_Principles_and_Methodology / . Dẫn luận ngôn ngữ học.d).pdf Le. L. An Outline of Morphology. T. T. from page 5 at http://elearning.2009. from http://www.Morphemes 11 References Elearning. & Nguyen. (n. (2004). Ho Chi Minh City: Educational Publisher StateMaster – Encyclopedia. T. T. H. Retrieved November 23.statemaster. Nghiên cứu đối chiếu các ngôn ngữ.

inconsiderate.Morphemes 12 APPENDIX Common English Prefixes Prefix a-. project submarine synchronize transmit tricycle unfinished unicorn Common English Suffixes . irininterintramacromicromonononomnipostpre-. more than different same over. without into between between large small one not. away from not put into out of. in-. forward under same time across three not one Example amoral antecedent anticlimax autopilot circumvent copilot companion. every after before. irresponsible insert intersect intravenous macroeconomics microscope monocle nonentity omniscient postmortem precede. former beyond. immoral. more not. contact contradict devalue disappear enclose extract. concontradedisenexextraheterohomohyperil-. prosubsyntranstriununiMeaning without before against self around with with against off. im-. ananteantiautocircumcocom-. ex-president extracurricular heterosexual homonym hyperactive illegal. without all.

Verb Suffixes Suffix -ate -en -ify. Example boldly. -ence -dom -er. -fy -ize. Noun Suffixes Suffix -acy -al -ance. -ise 3. -ous -ish -ive -less -y 4. freely Straightway. course. -tion 2.Morphemes 13 1. anyway. Meaning capable of being pertaining to reminiscent of notable for pertaining to characterized by having the quality of having the nature of without characterized by Example edible. -ty -ment -ness -ship -sion. transition . belief one who quality of condition of state of being position held state of being Example privacy refusal maintenance. -ways Meaning like In (such) a way. protector communism chemist veracity argument heaviness fellowship concession. portentous fiendish creative endless sleazy Meaning become become make or become become eradicate enlighten terrify civilize Example Meaning state or quality act or process of state or quality of place or state of being one who doctrine. Adverb Suffixes Suffix -ly -way. -ical -ious. kingdom trainer. eminence freedom. presentable regional picturesque fanciful musical. wisely. -or -ism -ist -ity. Adjective Suffixes Suffix -able. mythic nutritious. -ible -al -esque -ful -ic.

-wards direction. otherwise homeward. towards . upwards. manner Manner. mode turning to always likewise. backward.Morphemes 14 -wise -ward.

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