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Linguistics for Teachers

Language and Words

In Our Last Class…
We Looked At…

Phonetics: places of articulation

manner of articulation
consonants and vowels

Phonology: phonemes and allophones

sounds that contrast meaning
phonological rules
In Today’s Online Segment
Language and Words:
• morphology
• morphemes
• bound morphemes (derivational and inflectional)
• free morphemes (lexical and functional)
• open and closed class morphemes
• word formation processes (coinage, borrowing,
compounding, blending, clipping, backformation,
conversion, acronyms, derivation)
The Longest English Word in a Major Dictionary

(45 letters)
silico (silica when unattached)
What is morphology?

Morphology is the study of the formation and the

internal structure of words.

desirability → desire → able → ity

In terms of morphology, the word desirability is not just
one word – it is a word made up of 3 basic elements or
A morpheme is “the most elemental unit of
grammatical form”

A morpheme is the “smallest meaningful

unit in language”

A morpheme is the “minimal unit of

“They gave it to me,” Humpty Dumpty continued, “for
an un-birthday present.”

“I beg your pardon?” Alice said with a puzzled air.

“I’m not offended,” said Humpty Dumpty.

“I mean, what is an un-birthday present?”

“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of


A morpheme is referred to as an ‘element’ rather

than a ‘word’; while some morphemes may
actually be complete words like sweet or book,
other morphemes are not words at all like -re and
-ing – this takes us to our next key concept:
bound and free morphemes
Bound Morphemes
Bound morphemes are those elements that cannot occur
alone – they are typically attached to other words.
*For example, the –er in baker cannot stand alone – it
must always attach itself to another morpheme.
*Receive and permit are both words, but ceive and mit
are not complete words – they cannot stand alone.

ceive, mit, fer

These are clearly not complete words or free morphemes,

but derivational and inflectional morphemes will be
attached to roots in order to create a free morpheme.

receive, permit, transfer → these are stems


We will look at 2 types of affixes:

-prefixes (pre, un, con) and suffixes (ist, ly,

-suffixes (ing, ed, est)
Derivational Morphemes
Prefixes and Suffixes
Derivational Morphemes
Prefixes • Suffixes

• prefixes are added to • suffixes are added to

words to create new words to change a word’s
words part of speech
-pre, un, re, con -ly, ist, ment, ish
premature quickly
unnamed economist
rewrite establishment
conman boyish
Derivational Morphemes

Prefixes: Suffixes:
(new meaning) (new part of speech)

unsavory realize
dislike quickly
asexual helpful
anti-aircraft worker
Inflectional Morphemes
Inflectional Morphemes


• suffixes which are added to words to act as

grammatical markers
-est is added to the adjective short to mark the
word as a superlative adjective - shortest

• there are 8 inflectional morphemes

Inflectional Morphemes

English Inflectional Morphemes

-s third person singular He love-s spinach.

-ed past tense They walk-ed back home.
-ing progressive I’m not com-ing until later.
-en past participle Have you eat-en yet?
-s plural The boy-s are at school.
-’s possessive That’s John-’s sweater on
the chair.
-er comparative It’s warm-er in here than
-est superlative She’s the nic-est person.
The differences between derivational
and inflectional morphemes

• There are 4 major differences between

derivational and inflectional morphemes:

-order of appearance
-effect on part of speech
-number of allowable affixes
Derivational Inflectional

-are either prefixes or -are only suffixes(only come

suffixes (come before or
after a word) after a word)

undone, mistreat, happily writes, Jim’s, happier

Derivational Inflectional
-added to words first -added after derivational
teach + -er = teacher
teach + -er + -s = teachers
teachser is an unacceptable
**Look at the examples of
lovingly and markedly in
your Parker & Riley


-as prefixes, will show a -will not change a word’s

word’s variation in meaning or
meaning part of speech
-as suffixes will show a
word’s different part of
-will simply change a word’s
grammatical function.

Derivational Inflectional

-more than one can be -only one can be added to a

added to a word

happier (only one inflectional
morpheme can be added here
(4 derivational morphemes to show the comparative form)
have been added to the free
morpheme, system) happierest (we cannot add
two inflectional morphemes)
Free Morphemes
Free Morphemes
Free morphemes are those elements that can
stand alone; they do not need to be attached to
other morphemes in order for them to exist as

• Lexical morphemes (dog, bus, big, eat)

• Functional (Grammatical) morphemes (in, are,
the, she, and)
Lexical Morphemes

• Words that carry the content of the


-nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs

(book, pretty, debate, quickly)
Functional Morphemes

• Words that perform specific functions in

the sentence

-conjunctions (or), prepositions (with),

articles (an), pronouns (he), auxiliary verbs
Can you tell the difference?
The rabbit and the hare were involved in a
dramatic race for the finish.

Which words are the lexical morphemes?

Which words are the functional morphemes?
Closed Class Morphemes
Closed Class Morphemes
Functional Morphemes

-words like and, in, the, she, is are rarely added to

or modified
-there are some exceptions – she + ‘s → she’s
-closed class morphemes help us understand the
grammatical and semantic relationships of the
Open Class Morphemes
Open Class Morphemes
Lexical Morphemes and Derivational Affixes

-words like dog, pretty, love, and lovely (lexical

morphemes) can be adapted to fit new
grammatical and semantic demands
-roots like ceive, mit, fer can be added to in order
to create new words
How Words Are Formed
Word formation
• coinage
• borrowing
• compounding
• blending
• clipping
• backformation
• conversion
• acronyms
• derivation
Word formation
• coinage - the invention of completely new words,
especially stemming from commercial products:
kleenex, tylenol, aspirin, xerox, zipper
or from people’s names: hoover, sandwich, velcro

• borrowing - taking words from other languages:

pretzel, yogurt, tycoon, croissant

• compounding - joining two separate words to create

one single word: doorknob, waterbed, good-looking,
Word formation
• blending – joining the beginning of one word to the
ending of another word: smog, motel, infomercial

• clipping - a syllable or segment of a word is cut to

create a shorter form: fax, flu, fan, perm, Rob, Tim, Sue

• backformation - a noun is reduced to form a verb:

televise, babysit, donate, edit, work, burgle, peddle
Word formation
• conversion - a word’s function (grammatical
category) is changed to a completely different function:
bottle, down, ball-park, vacation, total

• acronyms – the initial letters are used to represent a

set of words: CD, UNESCO, AIDS, MADD, PIN

• derivation - the adding of affixes to create new

versions of words or new grammatical categories:
orientation, deviation, boyish, sadness
• morphology
• morphemes
• bound morphemes (derivational and inflectional)
• free morphemes (lexical and functional)
• open and closed class morphemes
• word formation processes (coinage, borrowing,
compounding, blending, clipping, backformation,
conversion, acronyms, derivation)
Required Reading
Yule (2006), pp.54-69

Parker & Riley (2005) pp.85-104