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Structure of Words:


Introduction to Linguistics

Professor: Dr. Aida A. Dianela

Sat. 7:30-10:30

1.Notion of Words
a.Structure of Words
Simple words
Complex words
B. Morphemes, Allomorphs and Morph
C. Main Types of Morphemes
a. According to Occurrence
Free Morphemes
Bound Morphemes

b. According to Function
Lexical Morphemes
Bound Roots
- Derivational Affixes
Grammatical Morphemes
- Free Grammatical Morphemes
- Bound Grammatical Morphemes
- Inflectional Affixes
- Enclitics
- Proclitics

D. Allomorphs and allomorph conditioning

Types of Allomorph
Phonological allomorphs
Suppletive allomorphs

Types of Conditioning factors

Phonological conditioning
Lexical conditioning
Morphological conditioning

The boundaries of words in spoken

utterances are not overtly marked, so

we need criteria for their
identification. We introduce the widely
used notion of word as minimal free
form. We also examine the internal
structure of words, that is, how they
can be divided into smaller
meaningful units. The scientific
investigation of this domain is called

Morphology is the study of word formation, of the

structure of
Some observations about words and their structure:
1. Some words can be divided into parts which still
have meaning.
2. Many words have meaning by themselves. But
some words
have meaning only when used with other words.
3. Some of the parts into which words can be divided
can stand alone as words. But others cannot.
4. These word-parts that can occur only in combination
must be combined in the correct way.
5. Languages create new words systematically.


Notion of Words
Speakers generally have some notion of words in their
language, and all languages probably have a word for word
that is, a word that can translate word in some context.
Speakers of English generally have a good feel for how an
utterance can be divided into words. This may seem trivial:
surely words are the things that are separated by largish white
spaces in writing. But this does not work smoothly.
Ex. Bookcase and Bookshelf
Church mouse and Churchman

In speech we find no corresponding pauses between

words Ex. The farmer kills the duckling.

Nevertheless, no speaker of English would have any

doubt that there are five words in this sentence. No

The farmerkills the duckling or The um: farmer kills um the

The farmer kills the duckling.


The hairy farmer always kills all the little


De farmer kills de duckling / The farmer kills the


Words are thus minimal free forms: they have a

degree of independence from other words in the

sentence in the sense that they can be separated
from them (free bit) and no smaller part of them has
such freedom(minimal bit)

Structure of Words
Simple words - no internal structure

Ex. farm, kill, duck

Complex words do have internal structure

Ex. farmer, kills, duckling

The pieces we have been talking about are minimal

linguistic signs: they have a form and meaning, and
cannot be divided into smaller linguistic signs. Such
pieces are morphemes.
Morphemes are in a sense atomic signs: they cant be
split up further.
Simple words consist of a single morpheme; complex
words of more than one morpheme.

Language differ vastly in terms of the word-

complexity they permit.

By comparison, words in Yupik (Eskimo,
Aleut, Alaska) tend to be more complex, and
often correspond to full sentences in English.
Ex. kaipiallrulliniuk means the two of them

were apparently really hungry, and is made up

of six morphemes.
Kai-pia- -llru-llini-u-kbe; hungry- -really-past-apparently-statement- -they:two

Morphemes, Allomorphs and Morph

Morphemes sometimes come in different

phonological shapes. For instance, we

identified a morpheme with the shape /z/ in
kills, which indicates that a single person is
doing the event now. For cat the
corresponding form ends in /s/, and for
touches, it ends in / z/. These variant forms
are called allomorphs.
Other allomorphs in English are /t/, /d/, and /
d/ that are variant forms of the morpheme
that attach to verbs and indicate past time.

Ex. kissed /kIst/, killed /kIld/ and batted

/bt d/, respectively.


Maybe complementary distribution

Ex. / / and /n/ = a and an or free
Ex. exit as /gzIt/ and /ksIt/, and off
as / :f/
and / f/.


Sometimes used on analogy with phone

in phonetics to refer to any meaningful

form in a language. Some morphs are
grouped together as allomorphs of a
Ex. /z/, one going on nouns and

specifying plural (more than one), as in

dogs /d gz/, the other going on verbs,
and indicating he, she or it is doing

Main Types of Morphemes

According to Occurrence

Free Morphemes a simple word consists of a

single morpheme, and so is a free morpheme, a
morpheme with the potential for independent
In The farmer kills the duckling, the free
morphemes are the, farm, kill and duck.
Bound Morphemes by contrast, require the
presence of another morpheme to make up a
word; they cant occur independently. The morphs
er, -s and ling in the given example are bound

Other morphemes like ish, -ness, -ly, pre-,

trans-, and un- are never words by

themselves but are always parts of words.
These affixes are bound morphemes.
Prefixes occur before the morpheme, as in
un-happy. Suffixes occur after a
morpheme, as in friend-ly. A third type of
bound morpheme is an infix, that goes
inside another morpheme, as in
'absofreakinglutely' (some languages make
more use of this than English). Collectively,
suffixes, prefixes and infixes are called

According to Function
Lexical Morphemes are those like farm,

kill, happy that convey the major content

of a message, specifying the things, qualities
and events spoken about.
Words that have meaning by themselves are
called lexical morphemes.
Bound Roots - Most roots in English are

free however there exist a number which

are always bound as they carry no meaning
apart from the word in which they are
found. (Ex. cranberry)There are other
roots which are bound in the in certain

Derivational Affixes these are affixes

that attach to a lexical root and result in a

new word, a complex lexeme called stem.
The suffix er / / in English is a derivational
suffix. Adding it to a lexical root gives a
stem with related meaning.

Ex. bake baker, boil boiler.

These suffixes do not only change the

meaning of the morpheme they are

attached to, they also change its part-ofspeech.

Noun Adjective

boy + ish
Noun Verb

vapor + ize

Verb Noun
sing + er

Adjective Noun
free + dom

exact + ly
read + able

Some derivational suffixes do not cause change in

grammatical class.
Noun Noun
Verb Verb
Friend + ship
un + do
pink + ish

Grammatical Morphemes Whereas lexical morphemes

give the major meaning content of an utterance,

grammatical morpheme mainly give information about the
grammatical structure of the utterance, about how to put
the content together to form a coherent whole.
Those words that function to specify the relationship

between one lexical morpheme and anotherwords like at,

in, on, -ed, -sare called grammatical morphemes.
Free Grammatical Morphemes - Words that can stand alone

which (1) Signal grammatical & semantic roles & relationships;

(2) Qualify or modify meaning (e.g., gender for pronouns)
Articles, prepositions, conjunctions, disjunctions, pronouns
Ex. the, a an, to, of, by, for, and, but, his, her

Bound Grammatical Morphemes Suffixes

that (1) indicate grammatical & semantic roles

and relationships; and (2) Qualify or modify
Complete list:

{-pl}: plural morpheme

{-3rd person sg. present}
{-past participle}
{-er comparative}
{-est superlative} highest

Inflectional Affixes are bound morphemes that give

grammatical information relevant to the interpretation of a

sentence. They do not give rise to new lexical words, but to
different forms of a single lexical word, different forms that are
appropriate for the use of the lexical word in the sentence.

English has only eight inflectional affixes:

{PLU} = plural Noun
-s boys
{POSS} = possessive
{COMP} = comparative Adj
-er older
{SUP} = superlative Adj -est oldest
{PRES} = present Verb -s walks
{PAST} past Verb -ed walked
{PAST PART} = past participle
Verb -en driven
{PRES PART} = present participle Verb -ing driving

Clitics - Awordor part of a word that is structurally

on a neighboring word (itshost) and cannot stand
on its own.

Not all bound grammatical morphemes are

inflectional affixes. The bound form of have, written
ve, as in Theyve broken in again is an
example. Bound grammatical morphemes like this,
which behave grammatically as separate word, but
are phonologically part of the preceding word, are
called enclitics.
If they are part of the following word, they are called

The negative wordnotand a relatively

small number of frequently occurring words

(mostly verbs) can becontractedand
attached to other words. Usually they are
attached at the end asenclitics:
she's(she isorshe has),don't(do
Occasionally they

areproclitics:d'you(do you),'tis(it is).

The combination of both types of
cliticsappears in'tisn't.

Allomorphs and Allomorph conditioning

Types of Allomorphs

Phonological allomorphs morphemes

that are
phonologically similar
Ex. /s/ - /z/ - / z/ ( plural and possessive

Suppletive allomorphs morphemes that

are quite different phonologically.
Ex. good, better, best (The derived
comparative and superlative forms of good with
the regular derivational suffixes er and (e)st

Types of Conditioning factors

Phonological conditioning ex. /

and /n/ = a and an (conditioned by the
following phoneme)

Lexical conditioning ex. en, (in the

past participle) -ed, (the form of the verb

used after have and had.
(the choice of allomorph depends on the
particular word the morpheme is
attached to.)
Morphological conditioning

There is no longest word in English

What is the longest word of the English language?

Some have mentioned the following:

(1) a. antidisestablishmentarianism (28 letters)
b. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious(34 letters)
(45 letters)
As it turns out, there is no longest word in English.

To see this, consider simply the following two series,

each of which can be continued without limit to create
a potentially infinite number of new words:

The word construction is as follows
establish (9)to set up, put in place, or institute
dis-establish(12)to end the established status of a body, in
particular a church, given such status by law, such as theChurch of

(16)theseparation of church and

anti-disestablishment (20)opposition to
antidisestablishment-ary (23)of or pertaining to
opposition to disestablishment
antidisestablishmentari-an (25)an opponent of
antidisestablishmentarian-ism(28)the movement
or ideology that opposes disestablishment

The roots of the word have been defined as

follows: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic"delicate", expiali- "to atone", and docious"educable", with the sum of these parts signifying
roughly "Atoning for educability through
delicate beauty." Although the word contains
recognizable Englishmorphemes, it does not
follow the rules of Englishmorphologyas a whole.
The morpheme-isticis a suffix in English,
whereas the morphemeex-is typically a prefix;
so following normal English morphological rules,
it would represent two

(2) a. great-grandmother
b. great-great-grandmother
c. great-great-great-grandmother
(3) a. sensation
b. sensational
c. sensationalize
d. sensationalization
e. sensationalizational
f. sensationalizationalize






pre un con-


Nouns (girl)




Preposition (in)

Verbs (give)

Articles (the)


Pronouns (she)
Auxiliary verbs