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Unformatted text preview: Lecture notes: 8.1 July 16, 2009 1 Elements of morphology It is convenient to be able to talk about the pieces into which words may be broken. Linguists call these pieces morphemes : the smallest parts of a language that can be regularly assigned a meaning. An important assumption that we often make: what we store in our brains is not every inflected possible word in our language, but just the morphemes and the rules for word formation. When we talk about the form in which a morpheme is stored in our brain, we refer to it as a lexical entry , and the collected lexical entries in our brain as our mental lexicon . What are words made up of? In terms of sound structure: phonemes, grouped into syllables; In terms of gram- matical structure: morphemes. Morphemes are irreducible meaningful pieces of words. They are usually larger than phonemes. Example: “remarry” consists of two meaningful parts: re- and marry. What do we mean by “meaningful”? Either: They have meaning in an obvious sense: “cow”, “happy”, “smart”. Or: They have “grammatical meaning”, i.e. carry grammatical information. (1) Grammatical information: I run vs. He run + s: -s = 3rd person singular present tense I sing vs. I am sing+ing: -ing = progressive (2) Other kinds of meaning: smart smart+er: -er means “more” happy un+happy: un- means “not” Bound morphemes: re-, -er, un-, -ing, -s are all bound morphemes. A bound morpheme cannot occur on its own. (note the use of - ) They all occur as parts of words, as in rewind, reintroduce. 1 Free morphemes: Marry, run, cow, happy, smart. Are all free morphemes. They occur alone, as in: “What will he do now?” “Marry.” English is very liberal when it comes to allowing words to occur on their own, so bound morphemes play a relatively limited role. In other languages though we need to analyze bound roots in practically every word in the language. Consider nouns in Italian: (3) Italian nouns: il ragazzo the boy i ragazzi the boys la ragazza the girl le ragazze the girls l’ amico the friend (m.) gli amici the friends (m.) l’ amica the friend (f.) le amiche the friends (f.) lo zio the uncle gli zii the uncles la zia the aunt le zie the aunts Italian nouns are systematically marked for gender and number: (4) ‘tomato’ pomodor-o pomodor-i ‘onion’ cipoll-a cipoll-e We need to recognize bound stems in all of these words: pomodor-, cipoll-, ragazz-, amic-, zi-, etc. Bound stems that do not occur on their own as words. (5) PL pomodor-i cipoll-e SG pomodor-o cipoll-a MASC FEM Combinations of morphemes: Each morpheme has a meaning and no part of it car- ries a meaning. E.g. un + ready, there are just two morphemes in “unready”. [ ∧ n] has no meaning. [r E d] has no meaning (as a constituent of ready)....
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- Spring '09
- Morpheme, English plural, content morphemes