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see grammargrammar,
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 ?
Brown (1973) and de Villers and Villers (1973) report that the progressive marker is normally the first inflectional morpheme to appear in English monolingual children (as early as age 1;09).
As previously mentioned, the outcome of genitives in Piedmont Sinti is interesting for the diachronic process they may have undergone, that is an upgrading of an inflectional morpheme to a derivational one, and for the different paradigm reorganisation occurred in the two varieties.
We follow Myers-Scotton (1993, 1997) in using the term system morpheme from Bolinger (1968); he applied it to both inflectional morphemes and function words.
This is probably due to the fact that inflectional and derivational morphemes appear in the postfield of the word, whereas inflectional morphemes, with the exception of the verbal prefix ge- attached to the past participle of weak verbs, do not take up the word prefield.
The present theory implies a direct mapping of semantic relationships (given a series of preliminary pragmatic choices) upon sequences of words and inflectional morphemes.
The adverb itself provides evidence for this view, given that some derivational suffixes are former inflectional morphemes, such as -e in bealde 'boldly' or -es in ealles 'all'.
Table 2 only lists those inflectional morphemes that are crucially verbal (i.
Align plural is motivated by the fact that the plural morpheme is attached after all other derivational and inflectional morphemes.
Here, as is believed, inflectional morphemes are those that are required obligatorily by the sentence syntax: for good measure, they enter operations which leave syntactic categories of base morphemes untouched.
At early stages in particular, adult L2ers often use reduced paradigms, involving fewer morphological distinctions than in the TL, and they typically use specific inflectional morphemes inconsistently (see Klein 1986).
On the assumption that children determine the syntactic structure of their language on the basis of overt morphology, if type and properties of inflectional morphemes can be different even in languages belonging to the same family, one can naturally expect that an account of (ab)normal language acquisition developed on the basis of a language where inflectional morphemes have property P may not be able to capture patterns of (ab)normal language acquisition of a language where inflectional morphemes have properties other than P.