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Flashcards in LFNLP: Morphology Deck (19)
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What is a "morpheme"?

Morphemes are the smallest meaningful units of language, usually
consisting of a sequence of phones paired with concrete meaning


What is "morphotactics"

which morphemes are allowed to combine
within a word and in what order


What is "morphophonology"

how the form of morphemes is conditioned
by other morphemes they combine with


What is "morphosyntax"

how the morphemes in a word affect
its combinatoric potential


Give an example of a language with a non-contiguous morphemes

Hebrew. It has pattern morphemes


If you are told that C represents a consonant and there are word-forms "CaCaC", "hiCCiC", "miCCaC" and "CCaC". What type of morphemes are these?

Pattern morphemes

The ones in the example come from Hebrew.


"morphemes do not have to be phones".

Is this statement true? Prove why or give an example to justify your position


Tones are also morphemes.


What is a "zero" morpheme?

Because the absence of a morphological inflection may imply a particular meaning to a word, the very absence itself is also a morpheme.

For example: "cat" is understood as singular while "cats" is plural, there is a distinction between the two meanings because of the absence of an 's'.

Some roots have several meanings despite not changing, "Google" exists as a noun and a verb (to google something), "fish" is both plural and singular.


What do root morphemes convey about a word-form?

Its lexical meaning


What is a word in its "canonical" form?

Its dictionary form. This consists of its root morpheme with zero or more affixes.


What is "compounding", give an example

Forming words using multiple other roots. This process is recursive and allows compound words to be formed from other compound words.

"sunset", "beam-width"


Difference between derivational affixes and inflectional affixes?

Broadly speaking, derivational affixes
can change the part of speech, argument structure or meaning of the stem they combine with.

Inflectional affixes, on the other hand, typically provide syntactically or semantically relevant features, without changing information already present in the stem.


This is just an interesting piece of text on derivational affixes

When linguists identify a part of a word as a derivational affix, they are making the analytical claim that that affix has (or had, at some prior point in the development of the language) the ability to attach productively to any stem of some appropriately defined class. However, as with all other parts of a language, morphological systems can change over time. Existing affixes can lose their productivity and new productive affixes can enter the language, such as -gate ‘scandal’ in English
[Lehrer, 1988].

When a derivational affix loses its productivity, however, it doesn’t immediately disappear from the language, but rather persists in a set of forms until further language change causes enough of those words to become archaic (cease to be used) or change their pronunciation enough that the affix is no longer identifiable. The upshot for automatic processing of language is that in derivational morphology (as in many other linguistic subsystems) there will be many
patterns of varying generality


Give an example of a problem that can occur when trying to analyse the meaning of words by using prior knowledge about the meanings of its roots and derivational affixes?

Some words have multiple meanings, due to semantic-drift so they can be compositional (productive, their meaning can be derived from their morphemes) or non-compositional (idiosyncratic with the original use due to semantic drift)

an example is a "transmission" in a car vs "transmission" to transmit something. The later is compositional while the former is non-compositional as the morphemes "transmit+tion" convey the meaning of in the sense of ‘something which is sent’ or ‘the sending of something’


Give examples of inflectional affixes in English

-s for plural
-ed for past tense
-'s for possessive
-er for comparative
-est for superlative
-ing for progressive


What is the "cline of grammaticality"?

over time, a word that was originally an independent word (like back or go ) acquires a grammatical use in which its meaning shifts and/or is bleached
(e.g., going to/gonna as a marker of near future)

content item > grammatical word > clitic > inflectional affix


What is a "clitic"?

Clitics are pronounced as part of an adjacent word even though they are still syntactically

For example:

a. Jesse met the president of the university’s cousin.
b. Don’t touch that plant growing by the trail’s leaves.
c. The person you were talking to’s pants are torn.

The point of these examples is that the ’s attaches not to the noun understood to be the
possessor (president, plant, and person, respectively) but to the right edge of the noun phrase.


What is a "synthetic" language and what is an "analytic" language, where does English fall on the scale?

A synthetic language is one with a high morpheme per word count and thus has many affixes. While an analytic language has a low morpheme per word count.

English is more of an analytic language, there are more languages that have higher usage of affixes and morphemes.


What is an "agglutinative" language and what is a "fusional" language?

Languages with clear morpheme
boundaries are agglutinating while those with morphologically complex forms that nonetheless
aren’t easily broken down into prefix*+root+suffix* sequences are called fusional.