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