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Morpheme. Structural types of words. The stem of a word. Functions of roots, suffixes, prefixes, inflections

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Words consist of morphemes. A morpheme is defined as the smallest indivisible and two-facet language unit. A morpheme is an association of a given meaning with a given sound pattern. Morpheme is occurred in speech only as constituent parts of words. Morpheme – the minimum meaningful language unit. The term “morpheme” is derived from Greek “morphe” (form). Morphemes may have different phonemic shapes. In the word-cluster “please, pleasing., pleasure, pleasant” the root morpheme is represented by the phonetic shapes [pli:z], [pleʒ], [plez]. All the representations of the given morpheme are called allomorphs.

According to the complexity of the morphemic structure of the word, all English words fall into two large classes:

· Segmentable words, those which can be segmented into morphemes (agreement, fearless).

· Non-segmentable words, those which cannot be segmented into morphemes (house, husband)

Morphemes can be classified:

ü From the semantic point of view

In the words helpless, handy, refill – the root-morphemes (the lexical nucleuses of words) help-, hand-, -fill: root-morpheme has individual lexical meaning shared by no other morpheme of the language. The root-morpheme common to a set of words makes up a word-cluster.

e.g. the morpheme “teach” makes up teach, teacher, teaching

Non-root morphemes include inflectional morphemes (inflexions) and affixational morphemes (affixes). Inflections carry only a grammatical meaning and are relevant only for the formation of grammatical word-forms. Affixes are relevant for building various types of stems – the part of a word that remains unchanged throughout its paradigm.

Affixes:

o Prefixes preceded the root-morpheme

o Suffixes follow the root-morpheme

Affixes possess the part-of-speech meaning and a generalized lexical meaning (-er denotes a noun and doer of an action).

ü From the structural point of view morphemes fall into:

o Free morphemes (one that coincides with the stem or a word-form). The root morpheme “friend” of the noun “friendship” is naturally qualified as a free morpheme, because it coincides with one of the forms of the noun “friend”.

o Bound morphemes occurs only as a constituent part of a word. Affixes are bound morphemes as they always make part of a word (pref.: im-, dis-, de-: suf.: -ness, -ship, -ment). Many root-morphemes also belong to the class of bound morphemes when they are in combination with roots or affixes. All unique roots and pseudo-roots are bond morphemes (such as “theor” – in “theory”, “barbar” – in “barbarism”).



o Semi-bound morphemes can function both as an affix and as a free morpheme.

e.g. the morpheme “well” occurs as a free morpheme. That coincides with the stem in the utterance (sleep well) and to occurs as a bound morpheme in the word well-known.

According to the number of morphemes:

· Monomorphic – root-words consist of only one root-morpheme (small class)

· Polymorphic:

Monoradical (one-root words) Polyradical (2 or more roots)
1.radical-suffixal words (1 root morpheme+1 or more suffixal morpheme – acceptable) 1.two or more roots with no affixational morpheme – book-stand)
2.radical-prefixal words (1 root morpheme+prefixal morpheme – outdo, unbutton) 2.at least two roots and 1 or more affixational morphemes – pen-holder, wedding-pie)
3.prefixo-radical-suffixal words (1 root+prefixal and suffixal morpheme – disagreeable)  

 

 


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