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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 ?
However, the aphasics fail to make use of this information.(16) In sum, these Zulu aphasics do show errors in their use of inflectional morphemes, but their early system morphemes (noun-class prefixes) are much more accurate than their late system morphemes (agreement prefixes).
The lexical morpheme of the inflected noun was followed by an inflectional morpheme, belonging to the set of the so-called Layer I markers, that assigned the noun to a declensional class and specified the opposition between nominative and oblique case.
At the same time, zero-derivation constitutes the borderline of derivation with inflection because the zero-morpheme is not incompatible with the presence of an inflectional morpheme. For these reasons, zero-derivation has been a controversial question in the area of word-formation, as Beard and Volpe (2005: 190) remark There are probably two reasons for this controversy: the existence of functions carried out by no explicit form (as, for instance, in cook noun from cook verb) and the apparent overlapping of zero-derivation and conversion in Present-Day English (as in the previous example, as well as in book noun vs.
3) Morphological development: ages at which the child started using inflectional morphemes in each language.
Table 9 shows the frequency of inflectional morphemes used by the informants.
Indeed several questions concerning how the relationship between inflectional morphemes and syntactic operations is acquired still await answer.
Like some of the derivational morphemes, those of the type {ly} and {ing}, inflectional morphemes add no lexical meaning to the base.
Align plural is motivated by the fact that the plural morpheme is attached after all other derivational and inflectional morphemes. The data examined so far offer no evidence to indicate that *CodaObs and Align Plural are crucially ranked with respect to each other.
(8) [[V.sub.participle] and [V.sub.participle]] [V.sub.Copula] + Inflectional Morphemes
The typology of zero-derivation phenomena in Old English includes (Martin Arista, fc-a): (i) zero derivation with explicit inflectional morphemes and without explicit derivational morphemes, as in ri:dan 'to ride' > ri:da 'rider'; (ii) zero derivation without explicit or implicit morphemes, whether inflectional or derivational, as in bi:dan 'to delay' > bi:d 'delay'; (iii) zero derivation without inflectional or derivational morphemes and with ablaut, as in dri:fan 'to drive' > dra:f'action of driving'; and (iv) zero derivation with ablaut and unproductive formatives such as -m in fle:on 'to fly' > fle:am 'flight'.
The present theory implies a direct mapping of semantic relationships (given a series of preliminary pragmatic choices) upon sequences of words and inflectional morphemes. Research on the implicit learning of graphotactic and morphological regularities in written French and English (Pacton, Perruchet, Cleeremans, & Fayol, 2001; Pacton, Perruchet, & Fayol, 2005; Deacon, Pacton, & Conrad, 2008) shows that rules are not abstracted even after massive amounts of exposure to a rule-based material.
Moreover, the results are less predictable than those of previous works, because the evolution from stem-formation to word-formation is a direct consequence of the well-known processes of the loss of productivity of the strong verbal paradigm and the decay and practical disappearance of inflectional morphemes. (4) For this reason, to consider the question from the angle of derivational rather than inflectional morphology may turn out a more fruitful undertaking.