Friday, April 27, 2007


Definition of Morpheme

Morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit which has a meaning or grammatical function. Some words are not composed of other morphemes, for example, car, spider, and race. But, they are also morpheme since they cannot be broken down into smaller meaningful parts.
A morpheme may be represented by a single sound, a single syllable or more than one syllable.

For example:

Girl girl (one morpheme)
Books book + -s (two morphemes)
Underdevelopment under- + develop + -ment (three morphemes)
Undesirability un- + desir (e) + -abl (e) + -ity ( four morphemes)

A morpheme ( the minimal linguistics sign ) is thus a grammatical unit in which there is an arbitrary union of sound and a meaning that cannot be further analyzed.

Kind of Morphemes:

1. Free Morpheme

Morpheme which are also words are called free morpheme since they can stand alone, such as boy, girl, and car.

Types of free morpheme:

-Lexical: Have semantic content and can be added to in the lexicon (open class)
Verbs : sweep
Adverb : extremely
Adjectives : enough
Nouns : sand

-Function words: Provide info about grammatical function and cannot be added to in the lexicon (closed class)
Prepositions : on, in, at
Articles : a, an
Conjuctions : eventhough, as if, so
Pronouns : he, she, it
Demonstrative : this, that
Interjection : ugh, ah

2.Bound Morpheme

A morpheme which is never used alone but must be used with another morpheme.
Affix is a bound morpheme which is added to a word and which changes the meaning or function of the word.

Kinds of Affix:

a. Prefixes
bound morphemes which occur before other morphemes. For example, anti-, bi-, dis-, un-, non-, -re, etc.

b. Infixes
bound morphemes which are inserted into other morphemes. For example, friggin, bloody.

c. Suffixes
bound morphemes which occur after other morphemes. For example, -able, -ful, -ation, -ship.

Function of bound morphemes

Change the meaning or part of speech
For example, un- in unpleasant creates a new word with opposite meaning of pleasant.
The suffix –ness in quickness, changes the part of speech of quick, an adjective into a noun, quickness.

Inflectional :
The morpheme which serve a purely grammatical function, never creating a new word but only different form of the same word such.
For example, walk (verb) + ed = walked (verb).

(Contributed by Mifta Azzahra)


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