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Chapter 04

Study guide for Chapter 04: Morphology

You should be able to simply explain the following terms, and provide an example:

Morphology Morpheme Root
Affix Prefix Infix
Suffix Circumfix Free/bound
Word Lexeme Allomorph
Derivational Inflectional Compounds
Case Nominative Accusative
Degree of synthesis Isolating/analytic Polysynthetic
Lexicalization Phonologically conditioned allomorphy
Degree of fusion Lexically conditioned allomorphy
Fusional Agglutinating  

You should be able to do the following:

  • Discuss how can you tell what counts as a word in a language.

  • Break words in English or other languages into composite morphemes.

  • Identify whether a morpheme is free/bound, its type (if an affix), and whether it is derivational or inflectional.

  • Understand the difference between a highly productive and a less productive morphological process, and give examples of each.

  • List allomorphs of a morpheme and their environments.

  • Make simple statements about distribution of allomorphs.

  • Make simple statements about the phonological processes that give rise to allomorphs.

  • State the morphological type of a language.

Hints for Conducting Morphological Analysis

  • Isolate and compare forms that are partially similar in form and meaning.

  • Basic Assumption: constancy of form means constancy of meaning.

  • Look for correspondences between sound and meaning, see how they line up.


  • If a single phonetic form has two distinct meanings, it must be analyzed as two morphemes. Example: English –er in rider versus colder.

  • If one meaning is associated with different phonetic forms, these different forms all represent the same morpheme, and are allomorphs.

  • Different languages have different morphological categories.

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