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Morphemes

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In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest lingual unit that carries a semantic interpretation.

Morphemes are, generally, a distinctive collocation of phonemes (as the free form pin or the bound form -s of pins) having no smaller meaningful members.

English example: The word "unbreakable" has three morphemes "un-", (negatory) a bound morpheme, "-break-" a free morpheme, and "-able". "un-" is also a prefix, "-able" is a suffix. Both are affixes.

Types of morphemes

  • Free morphemes like town, dog can appear with other lexemes (as in town hall or dog house) or they can stand alone, or "free". Allomorphs are variants of a morpheme, e.g. the plural marker in English is sometimes realized as /-z/, /-s/ or /- ɪz/.
  • Bound morphemes like "un-" appear only together with other morphemes to form a lexeme. Bound morphemes in general tend to be prefixes and suffixes. Unproductive, non-affix morphemes that exist only in bound form are known as "cranberry" morphemes, from the "cran" in that very word.
  • Inflectional morphemes modify a word's tense, number, aspect, and so on. (as in the dog morpheme if written with the plural marker morpheme s becomes dogs).
  • Derivational morphemes can be added to a word to create (derive) another word: the addition of "-ness" to "happy," for example, to give "happiness."

Other variants

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts

Books

  • Spencer, Andrew (1992). Morphological Theory, Oxford: Blackwell.

Papers

Additional material

Books

Papers

External links

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