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a term invented by the Polish linguist H. Utaszyn in 1927 to designate a phoneme that serves to distinguish morphemes or meaning. Morphophoneme received its present meaning in 1929, when N. S. Trubetskoi used the term to designate the complex concept that allegedly lies behind phonemes capable of replacing one another in different forms of a single morpheme; for example, the Russian alternation k∼ ch in ruka, “hand” (noun) and ruchnoi, “hand-” (adjective).

Since the development of morphophonemics, morphophoneme has been used to designate any of the phonological components of a morph (in transformational and generative grammars); specific phonological features accompanying the expression of morphological categories (as in German Bände, “volumes,” from Band, “volume”); or, most often, the synonym of the term “morphophonemic series,” a set of phonemes alternating as morphs of a single morpheme.

Many linguists reject the concept of the morphophoneme on the grounds that it does not adequately reflect the capacity of a morpheme to be formed from nonidentical phonological sequences.


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