DENNY IRDANTIE TIKASARI
ENGLISH EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
FACULTY OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF MUHAMMADIYAH YOGYAKARTA
Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies the structure of words. It is also focused
on the study of the forms and formation of words in a language.
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of
morphemes and other units of meaning in a language like words, affixes, and parts of speech and
intonation/stress, implied context.
II. SCOPE OF MORPHOLOGY
Morphology: the branch of grammar that deals with the internal structure of words.
A sub-branch of linguistics not until the 19th century.
Regarded as an essentially synchronic discipline, i.e. a discipline focusing on the study
of word-structure at one stage in the life of a language rather than on the evolution of
In American structural linguistics morphology was studied as one linguistic level. The
most important contribution of American structural linguists was recognition of the fact
that words may have intricate internal structures. Whereas traditionally linguistic analysis
had treated the word as the basic unit of grammatical theory and lexicography, the
American structuralists showed that words are analysable in terms of morphemes. These
are the smallest units of meaning and/or grammatical function. The purpose of
morphology was the study of morphemes and their arrangements in forming words.
III. THE BENEFIT OF LEARNING MORPHOLOGY
We can get some benefits of learning morphology such as give the explanation of how a word is
formed. It is also interested in how the users of a given language understand complex words and
invent new lexical items. Beside that, morphology allows us to identify, analyze and describe the
structure of the morpheme. As morphology is concerned with word forms it is akin to phonology
(which describes how words are pronounced), it is also related to lexical studies as the patterns
examined by morphology are used to create new words. Furthermore, it is also linked with
semantics as it deals with the meanings of words.
Lexemes and word forms
The distinction between these two senses of "word" is arguably the most important one in
morphology. The first sense of "word", the one in which dog and dogs are "the same word",
is called a lexeme. The second sense is called word form. We thus say that dog and dogs are
different forms of the same lexeme. Dog and dog catcher, on the other hand, are different
lexemes, as they refer to two different kinds of entities. The form of a word that is chosen
conventionally to represent the canonical form of a word is called a lemma, or citation form.
In linguistics a lemma (plural lemmas or lemmata) is either of two things:
1. Morphology, lexicography: the canonical form, dictionary form, or citation form of a
set of words (headword); e.g., in English, run, runs, ran and running are forms of the
same lexeme, with run as the lemma.
2. Psycholinguistics: abstract conceptual forms that has been mentally selected for utterance
in the early stages of speech production, but before any sounds are attached to it.
A lemma in morphology is the canonical form of a lexeme. Lexeme, in this context, refers to
the set of all the forms that have the same meaning, and lemma refers to the particular form that
is chosen by convention to represent the lexeme. In lexicography, this unit is usually also the
citation form or headword by which it is indexed. Lemmas have special significance in highly
inflected languages such as Czech. The process of determining the lemma for a given word is
The psycholinguistics interpretation refers to one of the more widely accepted
psycholinguistic models of speech production, referring to an early stage in the mental
preparation for an utterance. Here, lemma is the abstract form of a word that arises after the word
has been selected mentally, but before any information has been accessed about the sounds in it
(and thus before the word can be pronounced). It therefore contains information concerning only
meaning and the relation of this word to others in the sentence. This notion of lemma is similar
to the Sanskrit sphota (6th c.), an invariant mental word, of which the sound is a feature.
Morphology and lexicography
Difference between stem and lemma
In computational linguistics, a stem is the part of the word that never changes even when
morphologically inflected, whilst a lemma is the base form of the verb. For example, from
"produced", the lemma is "produce", but the stem is "produc-." This is because there are words
such as production. In linguistic analysis, the stem is defined more generally as the analyzed
base form from which all inflected forms can be formed. When phonology is taken into account,
the definition of the unchangeable part of the word is not useful, as can be seen in the
phonological forms of the words in the preceding example: "produced" (IPA: /proʊ ˈ djuː st/)
vs. "production" (IPA: /proʊ ˈ dʌ kʃ ən/).
Some lexemes have several stems but one lemma. For instance "to go" (the lemma) has the stems
"go" and "wend". (The past tense is based on a different verb, "to wend". The "-t" suffix may be
considered as equivalent to "-ed".)
In English and many other languages, many words can be broken down into parts. For example:
un - carries a negative meaning
ness - expresses a state or quality
s- expresses plurality
ing - conveys a sense of duration
A word like “yes”, however, has no internal grammatical structure. We can analyze the sounds,
but none of them has any meaning in isolation.
A morpheme is the smallest indivisible unit of a language that retains meaning. The rules
of morphology within a language tend to be relatively regular, so that if one sees the noun
morphemes for the first time, for example, one can deduce that it is likely related to the word
“un” is a morpheme.
“yes” is also a morpheme, but also happens to be a word.
There are several important distinctions that must be made when it comes to morphemes:
(1) – Free vs. Bound morphemes
Free morphemes are morphemes which can stand alone. We have already seen the
example of “yes”.
Bound morphemes: never exist as words themselves, but are always attached to some
other morpheme. We have already seen the example of “un”.
When we identify the number and types of morphemes that a given word consists of, we are
looking at what is referred to as the structure of a word.
Every word has at least one free morpheme, which is referred to as the root, stem, or base.
A stem is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings. In one
usage, a stem is a form to which affixes can be attached.
The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (root is then
called base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be
reduced into smaller constituents. Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist
only of, root morphemes. However, sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word
minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, chatters have
the inflectional root or lemma chatter, but the lexical root chat. Inflectional roots are often
called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.
Analyze the following word
STEM: stable or establish
Suffixes: -ment, -arian, -ism
Prefixes: dis-, anti-
We can further divide bound morphemes into three categories:
• prefix un-happy
• suffix happi-ness
• infix abso-blooming-lutely
The general term for all three is affix.
The Difference between a Prefix and Suffix
In the English language, a prefix or suffix can be added to a root word to modify its
meaning. A prefix comes before the root word, and a suffix comes after. The prefix and suffix
are known as affixes or additions to a word, and are differentiated by their placement against a
word. Common prefixes include un-, dis-, mal-, non-, mid-, and mini-. Common suffixes are –ed,
-s, -es, -ing. Suffixes often indicate the tense or number of a word, but can also be used to
indicate the part of speech. For example, adding –ly to the end of a word often indicates that
word is an adverb. The prefix and the suffix can take on different meanings depending on the
root word it precedes or succeeds, and therefore the prefix and suffix are reliant upon the root
word and cannot stand alone.
In many cases, adding a prefix and suffix to a word changes the meaning of that word
entirely. For example, the word "latch" means to secure or fasten. But by adding the prefix un- to
the root word to create "unlatches," the meaning has been changed to mean release or let free. In
this case, the addition of a prefix has made the word mean the opposite of the root word. Taking
that same root word and adding the suffix –ed to create "latched" changes the tense of the word.
While the root word takes place in the present tense, by adding –ed the action indicated by the
word now has taken place in the past.
The roles of the prefix and the suffix have been embellished over the course of centuries,
and in today‟s political society, it is not uncommon to see new words being formed by the
addition of a prefix and suffix. For example, television personality Stephen Colbert recently
coined the term, "truthiness" by adding a suffix to the word "truth" to indicate an idea or concept
that has elements of truth to it but is not necessarily the truth. While the word is somewhat
nonsensical, the addition of the –ness suffix made the word catchy and many linguists applauded
the new creation.
(2) – Derivational vs. Inflectional morphemes
• Derivational morphemes create or derive new words by changing the meaning or by
changing the word class of the word.
• happy → unhappy
Both words are adjectives, but the meaning changes.
• quick → quickness
• The affix changes both meaning and word class - adjective to a noun.
Suffix Base Verb/Adjective Derived Noun
-ation Computerize (V) Computerization
-ee Appoint (V) Appointee
-er Kill (V) Killer
-ness Fuzzy(A) Fuzziness
In English: Derivational morphemes can be either prefixes or suffixes.
• Inflectional morphemes don‟t alter words the meaning or word class of a word; instead
they only refine and give extra grammatical information about the word already exists
• Cat → cats
• walk → walking
In English: Inflectional morphemes are all suffixes (by chance, since in other languages this is
There are only 8 inflectional morphemes in English:
• -s 3rd person sg. present
Ex: “He waits”
• -ed past tense
Ex: “He waited”
• -ing progressive
Ex: “He is waiting”
• -en past participle
Ex: “I had eaten”
• -s plural
Ex: “Both chairs are broken”
• -’s possessive
Ex: “The chair’s leg is broken”
• -er comparative
Ex: “He was faster”
• -est superlative
Ex: “He was the fastest”
Inflectional morphemes are required by syntax. (that is, they indicate syntactic or semantic
relations between different words in a sentence).
• Nim loves bananas. but They love bananas.
Derivational morphemes are different with inflectional morphemes. In the syntax does not
require the presence of derivational morphemes; however, it indicates semantic relations within
a word (that is, they change the meaning of the word).
kind → unkind
• He is unkind
• They are unkind
A morpheme is not equal to a syllable:
• "coats" has 1 syllable, but 2 morphemes.
• "syllable" has 2 syllables, but only 1 morpheme.
Derivational versus Inflectional Morphology
Produces word forms of a single lexeme Produces new lexemes
Involve few variables of a closed system May involve many variables in an open system
High commutability within the word-form Low commutability within the word-form
Low commutability within the sentence High commutability within the sentence
Marks agreement Does not mark agreement
Further from the root than derivation Closer to the root than inflection
Cannot be replaced by a single root form Often can be replaced by a single root form
No gaps Gaps in a paradigm, or just gaps
Semantically regular Semantically irregular
Types of Word-Formation Processes
A first word-formation process is known as affixation, which is forming new words by
the combination of bound affixes and free morphemes.
There are three types of affixation:
• Prefixation: where an affix is placed before the base of the word
• suffixation: where an affix is placed after the base of the word
• infixation: where an affix is placed within a stem (word + inflection)
While English uses primarily prefixation and suffixation, many other languages use infixes.
• These are Infixes in English :
• Hallelujah >> Hallebloodylujah
• Fantastic >> Fan-flaming-tastic ( Engagement)
• Absolutely >> Absobloominlutely (of course ).
• In Tagolog, a language of the Philippines, for example, the infix „um‟ is used for
infinitive forms of verbs (to _______)
• sulat „write‟ sumulat „to write‟
• bili „buy‟ bumili „to buy‟
• kuha „take‟ kumuha „to take‟
A second word-formation process is known as Compounding, which is forming new
words not from bound affixes but from two or more independent words: the words can be free
morphemes, words derived by affixation, or even words formed by compound themselves.
• e.g. girlfriend air-conditioner
Compound words have different stress, as in the following examples:
The wool sweater gave the man a red neck.
The redneck in the bar got drunk and started yelling.
In compounds, the primary stress is on the first word only, while individual words in phrases
have independent primary stress.
blackbird black bird
makeup make up
A third word-formation process is known as Reduplication, which is forming new words
either by doubling an entire free morpheme (total reduplication) or part of a morpheme (partial
>> English doesn‟t use this, but other languages make much more extensive use of reduplication.
In Indonesian, for example, total reduplication is used to form plurals:
• rumah „house‟
• Rumah-rumah „houses‟
• ibu „mother‟
• Ibu-ibu „mothers‟
• lalat „fly‟
• Lalat-lalat „flies‟
A fourth type of word-formation process is known as Blending, where two words merge
into each other, such as:
brunch from breakfast and lunch
smog from smoke and fog
In conclusion, morphollogy is the study of the way words are built up from smaller meaning-
bearing units, that is morphemes. It has some benefits such as morphology allows us to identify,
analyze and describe the structure of the morpheme, and give the explanation of how a word is
formed. We also have seen that words fall into two general classes: simple and complex. Simple
words are single free morphemes that cannot be broken down further into recognisable or
meaningful parts. Complex words consist of two or more morphemes in combination. Finally,
morphology has made us easily to learn all about the word, how to analize and describe it.