Morphology and Lexicon

Morphology and Lexicon
Chapter 3
Morphology and Lexicon
• Morphology studies morphemes and their
different forms and the way they combine
in word formation.
• Lexicon refers to the set of all the words
and idioms of any language.
• Every speaker of a language knows thousands,
even tens of thousands, of words.
• From the nature of language, we know that knowing
a word means knowing both its sound and its
• What is a word?
• How are words classified?
• Traditionally, people tend to think of a word as a
meaningful group of letters printed or written horizontally
across a piece of paper.
• Some linguists tend to identify word as units that fall
between pauses in speech.
• The best known definition of word is given by Bloomfield,
who defines a word as “a minimum free form”, that is, the
smallest form that can occur by itself.
• A problem arises from the orthographic form of
compound words.
• seaside
• sea-maiden
• sea level
• Characteristics of a word
• First of all, a word is a sound or combination of
sounds which we produce voluntarily with our
vocal equipment.
• Second, a word is symbolic. The only
exceptions for this rule are
"onomatopoetic" or "echoic" words such
as bang or cuckoo.
• Third, words are part of language. A word is partly
dependent for meaning upon its use in the larger context.
• Lastly, words help us interact culturally with one another.
Word Classes
• English words can be classified into closed
class, open class and two lesser categories
and words of unique function.
• The two lesser categories are numerals and
Word classes
• Closed classes include prepositions,
pronouns, determiners, conjunctions,
modal verbs, and primary verbs.
• Open classes include nouns, full verbs,
adjectives, and adverbs.
• In English, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs make
up the largest part of the vocabulary.
• Cybernation, clone, biodestructible, weatherwise ,
• The other syntactic categories are, for the most part,
"closed". There are hardly new pronouns, determiners,
conjunctions or prepositions.
Word classes
• Open-class words: LEXICAL WORDS or CONTENT
• Closed-class words: GRAMMATICAL WORDS or
• A pro-form is a word or expression used as a substitute for
another form. In English, there are many types of proforms.
• Do, so, not
Word Classes
• variable and invariable words
• Variable words can take inflectional endings.
• Work, works, working, worked
• Invariable words do not take inflectional endings.
• A morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit that
carries grammatical and/or semantic meaning.
It cannot be further divided into smaller
grammatical units.
• Unacceptable: un, accept, able
• A morpheme may be a complete word (e.g.
boy, scout, accept) or an affix (e.g. -s, un-, able, -hood).
• A word of one morpheme is called onemorpheme word and a word of two twomorpheme word.
• The word boy contains one morpheme and
the word boys contains two morphemes.
• However, a morpheme may undergo certain
phonetic changes when combining with the base
word. For example, the plural morpheme {s} is
pronounced [z] in dogs, [s] in pests, and [iz] in
• The different variants of a morpheme are called
allomorphs .
Types of Morphemes
• free morphemes and bound morphemes
• eye, big, book, drink.
• un-, -s
Types of Morphemes
• Bound morphemes can be divided into two types.
• inflectional morpheme: suffix, infix
• derivative morpheme: prefix, suffix.
• A bound morpheme is also called an AFFIX.
• The morpheme or combination of morphemes
to which an affix is added is called a STEM .
• Inflection
• according to the rules of the grammar of a
• he works.
• I worked.
• New words may be added to the vocabulary or
lexicon of a language by:
• Compounding
• Conversion
• Derivation
• other processes.
• Compounding refers to the process of conjoining
two or more free morphemes to form a new word.
The new word form is called a compound.
• greenhouse
Compound nouns
Free noun phrases
a `blackbird
a black `bird
a `darkroom
a dark `room
• v + n  n.: cut-throat, breakwater
• n + -ed participle  adj.: home-made, booklearned
• adj + -ed participle  adj.: new-born, deep-laid
• Some English derivative prefixes are very
• anti- (meaning "against", "the opposite of"):
• dis- (meaning "not", "undo the action of"):
• A word can be converted from one word class
into another without any morphological change.
• Work, air, elbow, dry, doubt
• Another common way of making a word is to
abbreviate, or shorten, a longer word.
• Clipping : taxicabtaxi, bicycle  bike
• Initials: read letter by letter
• Acronyms: pronounced as independent words
• A blend is a combination of parts of two words to
form a third word which contains some of the
meaning of each part.
• smog, brunch
• Back formation refers to the removal of an affix
from an existing word to form a new word.
• Donation, donate
• This word formation is also called "new
• Blog, google
• A borrowing refers to a word or phrase which has been
taken from one language and used in another language.
• Loan words: directly borrowed from another language,
such as dimsum, kowtow.
• Loan blends: imported words that are made not felt to be
aliens, like companionship.
• Translation loans: words translated literally from another
language, like paper tiger.
• Lexicon deals with the analysis and creation of
words, idioms and collocations.
• A lexeme is an abstract unit and thus may occur
in many different forms in actual spoken or
written texts.
• For example, the verb lexeme speak may take
five forms: speak, speaks, speaking, spoke,
• Collocation is an issue of co-occurrence, i.e. a
lexical item is habitually used together with
• A lexeme may be a word or a phrase.
• According to Webster's Third New International
Dictionary (1961), the English language has
450,000 words. Since then, the number has
increased greatly.
• Phrasal lexemes: IDIOMS
• (a) semantic unity
• (b) structural stability
• Proverbs are normally in the form of a sentence.
• Never offer to teach fish to swim.
Thank you!