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Biplob Prodhan
  • 5 months ago
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What is morphology? Classify the morphemes in detail


What is morphology? Classify the morphemes in detail. [‘16,‘18]

Ans. The term ‘morphology’ is Greek and constituted of ‘morph’ standing for shape or form and ‘ology’ suggesting the study of something. In linguistics, morphology is a level of linguistic analysis and discussion and covers the scientific study of forms and structure of words in a language.

Morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. It means that any part of a word that cannot be broken down further into smaller meaningful parts. For example: nation > nation-al > inter-nation-al > inter-nation-al-ize > inter-nation-aliz-ation. Here,  nation, -al, inter-, -ize, -ation are all morpheme.

Classification of morphemes: Morphemes can be divided into two major classes:

i)              Free morphemes

ii) Bound morphemes

Free morphemesThe morphemes that can function independently are called free or independent morphemes. For example: man, boy, girl, cow, mango, beauty etc. This type of morpheme is again categorized into two sub-classes:

  1. i)Lexical morphemes: The lexical morphemes are very large in number and independently meaningful. They include nouns (pen, rice, length etc.), adjectives (kind, wide, beautiful etc.), main verbs (eat, go, read etc.) and adverbs (quickly, slowly, happily etc.).
  2. ii)Grammatical morphemes: The grammatical morphemes are very limited in number and can also be used independently. They have little or no meaning on their own, but demonstrate grammatical relationships in and between sentences. They usually include auxiliary verbs (is, can, may etc.), determiners (a, the, much etc.), prepositions (to, at, on etc.) and conjunctions (and, but, or etc.).

Bound morphemesThere are some morphemes that cannot function alone and are added to root words. This type of morpheme is called bound or dependent morphemes. For example: -less, -ness, pre-, -ment, un-, im- and so on. Bound morphemes are of two types:

  1. i)Bound roots: Bound roots include those bound morphemes which have lexical meaning when they are attached to other bound morphemes to form content words such as: -ceive in receive, conceive; -tain in retain, certain etc.
  2. ii)Affixes: Affixes are bound morphemes which are usually attached to words and which change the meaning or function of those words such as: -ment in development, en- in enlarge, -ing in studying. According to their position in the word, affixes are classified into prefix, infix and suffix. Again, according to their function in a phrase or sentence, affixes are classified into derivational and inflectional affixes.

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