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Classification of morphemes.

The word is devided into smaller units called morphemes. The term "morpheme" is derived from Greek (morphe - form + -erne); the Greek suffix -erne has been adopted by linguistics to denote the smallest unit or the minimum distinctive feature.

Morphemes don't occur as free forms but only as constituent parts of words. They are not divided into smaller meaningful units. That is why the morpheme may be defined as the minimum meaningful language unit.

Structurally morphemes are divided into three classes: free, bound and semi-bound morphemes. Free morphemeis defined as one that coincide with the stem or a word form. Many root morphemes are free (wall, street, fact, man, sun). Bound morpheme occurs as constituent part of a word. Affixes are usually bound morphemes because they always make part of a word (e.g. suffixes -ness, -able, -ous, -ence; prefixes ill-, ir-, pre-). Root morphemes may be bound to all unique roots (e. g. theory, philosophy) because they don't occur as independent words. Semi-bound morphemesare morphemes that can function in a morphemic structure both as a free morpheme and as a bound one. They are in some cases free and in ther - bound (e.g. free morphemes: to sleep well, the lesson is over; bound morphemes: overdone, well-known).

According to their role in constructing words all morphemes are subdivided into two large classes: roots (or radicals) and affixes. The rootis a primary element of the word, its basic part conveys its fundamental lexical meaning. There are a great number of root morphemes which can stand alone as words, such as: act, fact, man, sun, etc. At the same time not all roots are free forms, but productive roots (capable of producing new words). They may be bound, e.g. include, exclude, occlude, preclude, According of the function and meaning affixesare divided into derivational and functional ones, the latter also called endings or outer formatives. They are usually bound forms.

A suffix is a derivational morpheme following the stem and forming a new derivative in a different part of speech or a different word class, e.g. -en, -y, -less, in hearten, hearty, heartless. It is always important to distinguish between inflection and derivation. Inflections (also called inflectional suffixes) are morphemes conveying the grammatical meaning. Derivational suffixes are lexical morphemes,



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e.g. love - loves - loved - inflectional paradigm

love - lovely - loveliness - illustrate a derivational (lexical) paradigm and the words lovely, loveliness are derivatives of the word love.

A prefix is a derivational morpheme standing before the root and modifying the meaning of the word, e.g. hearten - to dishearten.

Word without their grammatical morphemes (mostly inflectional suffixes, often called endings or inflections) are known as stems. A stem may consist of the root alone (child, room) or it may contain one or more affixes. This stem is called derived stem (childish, return).

Thus we distinguish:

a) lexical morphemes conveying the basic lexical meaning of the word (root morphemes);

b) grammatical morphemes having grammatical meaning;

c) lexico-grammatical morphemes (morphemes of dual nature), e.g. derivational affixes in word-making or postpositions in such verbs as to drink up, eat up, fall out, etc.

3. Allomorph asa positional variant of a morpheme.

An allomorph is a positional variant of a morpheme occurring in a specific environment and characterized by complementary distribution. This term came from Greek olios "other" and is used in linguistic terminology to denote elements of a group whose members together constitute a structural unit of the language. For example, -ion, -tion, -sion, -ation are the positional variants of the same suffix. They do not differ in meaning or function but show a slight difference in sound form depending on the final phoneme preceding stem. Complementary distribution is said to take place when two linguistic variants cannot appear in the same environment,

e.g. If the stem ends in a consonant (liberation), it'll appear the suffix -ation; if the stem ends in pt, it'll appear the suffix -ion (corruption). So these different positions of the same suffix are allomorphs.

Another example is that in the past indefinite we pronounce the ending -ed as [d] after voiced sounds (e.g. gathered, called), [t] after voiceless sounds (e.g. locked, kissed) and [id] after -d and -t (e.g. ended, rested). So these varieties of pronunciation of the morpheme -ed are also known as allomorphs.

Allomorphs will also occur among prefixes. Their form depends on the initials of the stem with which they will assimilate. A prefix such as im- occurs before bilabials, its allomorph ir- before r (irregular), il- before 1 (illegal), in- before all other consonants and vowels (indirect, inability).




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