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Encyclopedia > Morpheme

In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest lingual unit that carries a semantic interpretation. Morpheme-based morphology is a view on morphology with the following three basic axioms: Baudoin’s SINGLE MORPHEME HYPOTHESIS: Roots and affixes have the same status in the theory, they are MORPHEMES. Bloomfield’s SIGN BASE MORPHEME HYPOTHESIS: As morphemes, they are dualistic signs, since they have both (phonological) form... In the main, semantics (from the Greek and in greek letters σημαντικός or in latin letters semantikós, or significant meaning, derived from sema, sign) is the study of meaning, in some sense of that term. ...

Morphemes are, generally, a distinctive collocation of phonemes (as the free form pin or the bound form -s of pins) having no smaller meaningful members. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... In human language, a phoneme is a set of phones (speech sounds or sign elements) that are cognitively equivalent. ...

English example: The word "unbelievable" has three morphemes "un-", (negatory) a bound morpheme, "-believe-" a free morpheme, and "-able". "un-" is also a prefix, "-able" is a suffix. Both are affixes. A prefix morpheme is an affix that precedes either other prefixes or the base morpheme. ... An affix that comes either after the base morpheme or another suffix. ... Look up affix in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Types of morphemes

  • Free morphemes like town, dog can appear with other lexemes (as in town hall or dog house) or they can stand alone, or "free". Allomorphs are variants of a morpheme, e.g. the plural marker in English is sometimes realized as /-z/, /-s/ or /-ɪz/.
  • Bound morphemes like "un-" appear only together with other morphemes to form a lexeme. Bound morphemes in general tend to be prefixes and suffixes. Morphemes existing in only one bound form are known as "cranberry" morphemes, from the "cran" in that very word.
  • Inflectional morphemes modify a word's tense, number, aspect, and so on. (as in the dog morpheme if written with the plural marker morpheme s becomes dogs).
  • Derivational morphemes can be added to a word to create (derive) another word: the addition of "-ness" to "happy," for example, to give "happiness."

Definition A lexeme is an abstract unit of morphological analysis in linguistics, that roughly corresponds to a set of words that are the same in basic meaning. ... This article is about a lingustic term. ...


Spencer, Andrew (1992). Morphological Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

External links

  • University of Oregon Linguistics Course: The Structure of English Words (LING150)
  • Morpheme Study Aid

  Results from FactBites:
What is a morpheme? (295 words)
A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language.
Current approaches to morphology conceive of morphemes as rules involving the linguistic context, rather than as isolated pieces of linguistic matter.
Note that a morpheme like "-s" can just be a single phoneme and does not have to be a whole syllable.
  More results at FactBites »



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