Morphophonemics


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Morphophonemics

 

(also morphophonology), the branch of linguistics that studies the morphological use of phonological means; in the narrower sense, the field of word phonology connected with the sound structure of a morpheme and the changes that a morpheme undergoes when it combines with other morphemes.

Morphophonemics emerged as a separate discipline in the late 1920’s, but its origins are associated with J. A. Baudouin de Courtenay, who demonstrated the interaction of phonetics and grammar in sound alternations and advanced the hypothesis that the phoneme was “the mobile component of a morpheme and the sign of a particular morphological category.”

N. S. Trubetskoi, the founder of morphophonemics, formulated the discipline’s three main tasks: to establish the distinguishing phonological features of morphemes of different classes (for example, inflexions, as distinct from roots or suffixes); to formulate rules for transforming morphemes in morphemic combinations; and to create a theory of morphological sound alternation. Since morphophonemics includes the study of regularities in the occurrence of variant morphs of a single morpheme—regularities dependent on a morpheme’s phonemic composition and, at the same time, its morphological environment—some scholars place morphophonemics under phonology (representatives of transformational and generative grammars), other scholars place it under morphology (the French linguistic school), and still others regard it as the connecting link between phonology and grammar.

Morphophonemic characteristics are considered to include those that are related to the alterations of the morphemes when they are arranged in words (for example, in Russian, between glukhoi, “secluded,” and glush’, “backwoods,” and dikii, “wild,” and dich’ “wild game”). Morphophonemic characteristics may include alternations, the overlap and truncation of morphemes, stress shifts, and so on. Recognizing them is important for describing the morphological structure of a word, for determining the specific nature of the grammatical structure of a language (especially in constructing paradigms and word-formation series), and for comparing languages according to their typology.

REFERENCES

Trubetskoi, N. S. “Nekotorye soobrazheniia otnositel’no morfonologii.” In Prazhskii lingvisticheskii kruzhok. Moscow, 1967.
Reformatskii, A. A. “O sootnoshenii fonetiki i grammatiki (morfologii).” In Voprosy grammaticheskogo stroia. Moscow, 1955.
Makaev, E. A., and E. S. Kubriakova. “O statuse morfonologii i edinitsakh ee opisaniia.” In Edinitsy raznykh urovnei grammaticheskogo stroia iazyka i ikh vzaimodeistvie. Moscow, 1969.
Martinet, A. “De la Morphonologie.” La Linguistique, 1965, no. 1.
Kurytowicz, J. “Phonologic und Morphonologie.” In Phonologic der Gegenwart, vol. 14. Graz-Vienna, 1967.
Stankiewicz, E. “The Hierarchization of Features and of Grammatical Functions in Morphophonology.” In Phonologic der Gegenwart, vol. 14. Graz-Vienna, 1967.
Akhmanova, O. Phonology, Morphonology, Morphology. The Hague-Paris, 1971.
E. S. KUBRIAKOVA
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