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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 ?
In order to do the latter, children need access to knowledge about morphemes and the important contribution morphemes make to both the form and meaning of words.
When you damage the brain, you might damage certain morphemes but not others in writing but not speaking, or vice versa.
These are the smallest components of a word which have semantic meaning and there can be one or more morphemes in a word's composition.
Morphemes also operate across the senses - 'acuity' is a clarity or sharpness of vision, 'acute' is pain caused by a jabbing point and 'acupuncture' relates to the body and mind and involves needles.
Her treatment of the Hurrian in the commentary includes a narrow transcription, an analytic bound transcription displaying morpheme boundaries that includes parenthetical notes on grammatical forms, a discussion of important/difficult words, and a translation when possible.
It is very common--especially for verbal forms--that the stem and the derivational suffix (or suffixes) are bisyllabic, so that the boundaries between groups in most cases coincide with the boundaries between morphemes, while the last group includes a cluster of inflectional suffixes (sometimes together with a monosyllabic derivational suffix).
Nevertheless, Early Modern English (especially in the sixteenth century) still allowed numerous spelling variants of particular morphemes in both handwritten and printed documents (Scragg 1974: 64, Salmon 1999: 15, Osselton 1984).
Before now, the rules in English that govern long consonants have been stated simply, that they are forbidden within morphemes, but if a long consonant is created by combining two words to form a compound, then it's allowed.
These clitics should either be treated as the same morpheme (as suggested by the gloss), with an account of their distribution, or treated as two distinct morphemes with overlapping meaning, but distinguished in the gloss.
Also outlawed are reversible compounds, such as BIRDSONG SONGBIRD, BOOKCASE CASEBOOK, GUNSHOT SHOTGUN, HORSERACE RACEHORSE, and even JAYVEE VEEJAY and TOKYO KYOTO (a reversal of two morphemes that mean "capital city").
Originally, <-ban> is derived from the morphemes <-a-n> in an affixal string.