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description of the structure of a language, consisting of the sounds (see phonology); the meaningful combinations of these sounds into words or parts of words, called morphemes; and the arrangement of the morphemes into phrases and sentences, called syntax.
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the minimal meaningful part of an utterance and one of the basic units of a language system. The characteristics of morphemes are meaningfulness—morphemes convey lexical or grammatical meaning; repeatability—morphemes retain the same (or similar) meaning and the same (or similar) form when they appear in different contexts; and nonreducibility— morphemes cannot be further divided into parts having the same characteristics. The morpheme is also defined as the smallest meaningful part of a word and as a class of morphs possessing specific characteristics.

The detection of a morpheme begins with the division of utterances in a language into morphs; then, morphs similar in content and form and found in complementary or noncontrastive distribution (not causing differences of meaning) are combined into a single morpheme. For example, the Russian morpheme drug, “friend,” has the morphs drug~druzh~druz’ This level of analysis, which establishes the allomorphs of a single morpheme, is called identification. Identification is followed by the classification of the morpheme. According to their position in the language system, morphemes are divided into free morphemes capable of behaving as independent words, such as English day, German Tag, and Russian tikh; bound morphemes that occur only as part of a word, such as the plural formant -s in English days, or the adjectival ending -ii in Russian tikhii, “quiet“); and relatively bound morphemes that may occur in both free and bound form, such as Russian do, used as preposition and as prefix, in doletef do reki, “to fly up to the river.”

Morphemes are divided by function into auxiliary (affixal) and nonauxiliary (radical), of which the former are usually bound and the latter free. As a rule, the number of affixal morphemes is limited to a few dozen, while the number of radical morphemes is unlimited. Affixal morphemes are divided according to types of meaning conveyed, into derivational (word-forming), relational (word-altering, or inflectional), and relational-derivational (form-creating). The last two categories are often combined under the term “word-altering.”

Morphemes may convey meaning not only by their phonological presence in a given word but also by their absence (zero ending, zero allomorph). For example, the Russian word stol, “table,” is construed as nominative singular since it lacks the morphemic plural marker -y (Russian stoly, “tables“) as well as any relational morphemes indicating oblique case (the sign for zero ending is -#, as in stol[-#]). Most linguists regard the morpheme as a unit that correlates linguistic expression with linguistic content, that is, as a two-sided semiotic unit. Less often, the morpheme is regarded as the smallest unit of linguistic expression.


References in periodicals archive ?
Derivational morphemes of participles grammaticalized into tense markers and voice (passive) markers.
Abl Ablative Abil Abilitative Acc Accusative Agn Agentive Aor Aorist Aux Auxiliary Caus Causative CmpMrk Compound Marker Com Commutative Cond Conditional Conn Connector Cop Copula Dat Dative Der Derivational morpheme Dvb Deverbalizer EpCop Epistemological Copula Evid Evidential Fem Feminine Fut Future Gen Genitive Masc Masculine Nec Necessitative Neg Negative Loc Locative Obl Oblique Pass Passive Past Past Pl Plural Poss Possessive (e.
Thus, the semantic opacity of the prefix, observable only in the prefixed infinitives and finite forms, is a typical feature of derivational morphemes, whereas the entire elimination of the semantic substance from the prefix in preterite participles seems to be the "semantic regularization" of the products of the inflexional i-, a process which had begun long before the Middle English period.
As is commonly known, derivational morphemes have been referred to as affixes, and more specifically as suffixes, prefixes and infixes, in dependence on their position towards the base.
The standard was expressed in, among others, a consolidated graphemic system whereby the functional interrelations between particular graphemes and phonemes remained relatively stable (even if these interrelations were complex), as well as in the consistent spelling of particular morphemic exponents of grammatical categories, derivational morphemes, as well as loanwords.
5), or derivational morphemes (as in negative incorporation, 6.