Monday, June 17, 2013


In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language's morphemes and other linguistic units, such as root words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). Morphological typology represents a method for classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a language—from the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the agglutinative ("stuck-together") and fusional languages that use bound morphemes (affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress many separate morphemes into single words.(One of the definitions for Morphology)
While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most languages, if not all, words can be related to other words by rules (grammars). For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog and dogs are closely related—differentiated only by the plurality morpheme "-s", which is only found bound to nouns, and is never separate. Speakers of English (a fusional language) recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word formation in English. They infer intuitively that dog is to dogs as cat is to cats; similarly, dog is to dog catcher as dish is to dishwasher, in one sense. The rules understood by the speaker reflect specific patterns, or regularities, in the way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation within and across languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.
A language like Classical Chinese instead uses unbound ("free") morphemes, but depends on post-phrase affixes, and word order to convey meaning. However, this cannot be said of present-day Mandarin, in which most words are compounds (around 80%), and most roots are bound.
In the Chinese languages, these are understood as grammars that represent the morphology of the language. Beyond the agglutinative languages, a polysynthetic language like Chukchi will have words composed of many morphemes: The word "təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən" is composed of eight morphemes t-ə-meyŋ-ə-levt-pəγt-ə-rkən, that can be glossed 1.SG.SUBJ-great-head-hurt-PRES.1, meaning 'I have a fierce headache.' The morphology of such languages allows for each consonant and vowel to be understood as morphemes, just as the grammars of the language key the usage and understanding of each morpheme.
The discipline that deals specifically with the sound changes occurring within morphemes is called morphophonology.

The history of morphological analysis dates back to the ancient Indian linguist ini, who formulated the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology in the text Aṣṭādhyāyī by using a constituency grammar. The Greco-Roman grammatical tradition also engaged in morphological analysis. Studies in Arabic morphology, conducted by Marā al-arwā and Amad b. ‘alī Mas‘ūd, date back to at least 1200 CE.[1]
The term morphology was coined by August Schleicher in 1859.[2]
Fundamental concepts
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.
Inflection vs. word formation
Given the notion of a lexeme, it is possible to distinguish two kinds of morphological rules. Some morphological rules relate to different forms of the same lexeme; while other rules relate to different lexemes. Rules of the first kind are called inflectional rules, while those of the second kind are called word formation. The English plural, as illustrated by dog and dogs, is an inflectional rule; compound phrases and words like dog catcher or dishwasher provide an example of a word formation rule. Informally, word formation rules form "new words" (that is, new lexemes), while inflection rules yield variant forms of the "same" word (lexeme).
The distinction between inflection and word formation is not at all clear cut. There are many examples where linguists fail to agree whether a given rule is inflection or word formation. The next section will attempt to clarify this distinction.
Word formation is a process, as we have said, where one combines two complete words, whereas with inflection you can combine a suffix with some verb to change its form to subject of the sentence. For example: in the present indefinite, we use ‘go’ with subject I/we/you/they and plural nouns, whereas for third person singular pronouns (he/she/it) and singular nouns we use ‘goes’. So this ‘-es’ is an inflectional marker and is used to match with its subject. A further difference is that in word formation, the resultant word may differ from its source word’s grammatical category whereas in the process of inflection the word never changes its grammatical category.
Types of Word Formation
There is a further distinction between two kinds of morphological word formation: derivation and compounding. Compounding is a process of word formation that involves combining complete word forms into a single compound form; dog catcher is therefore a compound, because both dog and catcher are complete word forms in their own right before the compounding process has been applied, and are subsequently treated as one form. Derivation involves affixing bound (non-independent) forms to existing lexemes, whereby the addition of the affix derives a new lexeme. One example of derivation is clear in this case: the word independent is derived from the word dependent by prefixing it with the derivational prefix in-, while dependent itself is derived from the verb depend.
A linguistic paradigm is the complete set of related word forms associated with a given lexeme. The familiar examples of paradigms are the conjugations of verbs, and the declensions of nouns. Accordingly, the word forms of a lexeme may be arranged conveniently into tables, by classifying them according to shared inflectional categories such as tense, aspect, mood, number, gender or case. For example, the personal pronouns in English can be organized into tables, using the categories of person (first, second, third), number (singular vs. plural), gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), and case (nominative, oblique, genitive). See English personal pronouns for the details.
The inflectional categories used to group word forms into paradigms cannot be chosen arbitrarily; they must be categories that are relevant to stating the syntactic rules of the language. For example, person and number are categories that can be used to define paradigms in English, because English has grammatical agreement rules that require the verb in a sentence to appear in an inflectional form that matches the person and number of the subject. In other words, the syntactic rules of English care about the difference between dog and dogs, because the choice between these two forms determines which form of the verb is to be used. In contrast, however, no syntactic rule of English cares about the difference between dog and dog catcher, or dependent and independent. The first two are just nouns, and the second two just adjectives, and they generally behave like any other noun or adjective behaves.
An important difference between inflection and word formation is that inflected word forms of lexemes are organized into paradigms, which are defined by the requirements of syntactic rules, whereas the rules of word formation are not restricted by any corresponding requirements of syntax. Inflection is therefore said to be relevant to syntax, and word formation is not. The part of morphology that covers the relationship between syntax and morphology is called morphosyntax, and it concerns itself with inflection and paradigms, but not with word formation or compounding.
In the exposition above, morphological rules are described as analogies between word forms: dog is to dogs as cat is to cats, and as dish is to dishes. In this case, the analogy applies both to the form of the words and to their meaning: in each pair, the first word means "one of X", while the second "two or more of X", and the difference is always the plural form -s affixed to the second word, signaling the key distinction between singular and plural entities.
One of the largest sources of complexity in morphology is that this one-to-one correspondence between meaning and form scarcely applies to every case in the language. In English, there are word form pairs like ox/oxen, goose/geese, and sheep/sheep, where the difference between the singular and the plural is signaled in a way that departs from the regular pattern, or is not signaled at all. Even cases considered "regular", with the final -s, are not so simple; the -s in dogs is not pronounced the same way as the -s in cats, and in a plural like dishes, an "extra" vowel appears before the -s. These cases, where the same distinction is effected by alternative forms of a "word", are called allomorphy.
Phonological rules constrain which sounds can appear next to each other in a language, and morphological rules, when applied blindly, would often violate phonological rules, by resulting in sound sequences that are prohibited in the language in question. For example, to form the plural of dish by simply appending an -s to the end of the word would result in the form *[dɪʃs], which is not permitted by the phonotactics of English. In order to "rescue" the word, a vowel sound is inserted between the root and the plural marker, and [dɪʃɪz] results. Similar rules apply to the pronunciation of the -s in dogs and cats: it depends on the quality (voiced vs. unvoiced) of the final preceding phoneme.
Lexical morphology
Lexical morphology is the branch of morphology that deals with the lexicon, which, morphologically conceived, is the collection of lexemes in a language. As such, it concerns itself primarily with word formation: derivation and compounding.
There are three principal approaches to morphology, which each try to capture the distinctions above in different ways. These are,
Note that while the associations indicated between the concepts in each item in that list is very strong, it is not absolute.
Morpheme-based morphology
In morpheme-based morphology, word forms are analyzed as arrangements of morphemes. A morpheme is defined as the minimal meaningful unit of a language. In a word like independently, we say that the morphemes are in-, depend, -ent, and ly; depend is the root and the other morphemes are, in this case, derivational affixes.[5] In a word like dogs, we say that dog is the root, and that -s is an inflectional morpheme. In its simplest (and most naïve) form, this way of analyzing word forms treats words as if they were made of morphemes put after each other like beads on a string, is called Item-and-Arrangement. More modern and sophisticated approaches (among them, Distributed Morphology) seek to maintain the idea of the morpheme while accommodating non-concatenative, analogical, and other processes that have proven problematic for Item-and-Arrangement theories and similar approaches.
Morpheme-based morphology presumes three basic axioms (cf. Beard 1995 for an overview and references):
  • Baudoin’s single morpheme hypothesis: Roots and affixes have the same status as morphemes.
  • Bloomfield’s sign base morpheme hypothesis: As morphemes, they are dualistic signs, since they have both (phonological) form and meaning.
  • Bloomfield’s lexical morpheme hypothesis: The morphemes, affixes and roots alike, are stored in the lexicon.
Morpheme-based morphology comes in two flavours, one Bloomfieldian and one Hockettian. (cf. Bloomfield 1933 and Charles F. Hockett 1947). For Bloomfield, the morpheme was the minimal form with meaning, but it was not meaning itself. For Hockett, morphemes are meaning elements, not form elements. For him, there is a morpheme plural, with the allomorphs -s, -en, -ren etc. Within much morpheme-based morphological theory, these two views are mixed in unsystematic ways, so that a writer may talk about "the morpheme plural" and "the morpheme -s" in the same sentence, although these are different things.
Lexeme-based morphology
Lexeme-based morphology is (usually) an Item-and-Process approach. Instead of analyzing a word form as a set of morphemes arranged in sequence, a word form is said to be the result of applying rules that alter a word form or stem in order to produce a new one. An inflectional rule takes a stem, changes it as is required by the rule, and outputs a word form; a derivational rule takes a stem, changes it as per its own requirements, and outputs a derived stem; a compounding rule takes word forms, and similarly outputs a compound stem.
Word-based morphology
Word-based morphology is (usually) a Word-and-paradigm approach. This theory takes paradigms as a central notion. Instead of stating rules to combine morphemes into word forms, or to generate word forms from stems, word-based morphology states generalizations that hold between the forms of inflectional paradigms. The major point behind this approach is that many such generalizations are hard to state with either of the other approaches. The examples are usually drawn from fusional languages, where a given "piece" of a word, which a morpheme-based theory would call an inflectional morpheme, corresponds to a combination of grammatical categories, for example, "third person plural." Morpheme-based theories usually have no problems with this situation, since one just says that a given morpheme has two categories. Item-and-Process theories, on the other hand, often break down in cases like these, because they all too often assume that there will be two separate rules here, one for third person, and the other for plural, but the distinction between them turns out to be artificial. Word-and-Paradigm approaches treat these as whole words that are related to each other by analogical rules. Words can be categorized based on the pattern they fit into. This applies both to existing words and to new ones. Application of a pattern different from the one that has been used historically can give rise to a new word, such as older replacing elder (where older follows the normal pattern of adjectival superlatives) and cows replacing kine (where cows fits the regular pattern of plural formation).
Morphological typology
In the 19th century, philologists devised a now classic classification of languages according to their morphology. According to this typology, some languages are isolating, and have little to no morphology; others are agglutinative, and their words tend to have lots of easily separable morphemes; while others yet are inflectional or fusional, because their inflectional morphemes are "fused" together. This leads to one bound morpheme conveying multiple pieces of information. The classic example of an isolating language is Chinese; the classic example of an agglutinative language is Turkish; both Latin and Greek are classic examples of fusional languages.
Considering the variability of the world's languages, it becomes clear that this classification is not at all clear cut, and many languages do not neatly fit any one of these types, and some fit in more than one way. A continuum of complex morphology of language may be adapted when considering languages.
The three models of morphology stem from attempts to analyze languages that more or less match different categories in this typology. The Item-and-Arrangement approach fits very naturally with agglutinative languages; while the Item-and-Process and Word-and-Paradigm approaches usually address fusional languages.
The reader should also note that the classical typology mostly applies to inflectional morphology. There is very little fusion going on with word formation. Languages may be classified as synthetic or analytic in their word formation, depending on the preferred way of expressing notions that are not inflectional: either by using word formation (synthetic), or by using syntactic phrases (analytic).

Comparison of American and British English

Written forms of British and American English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media[1] (comparing American newspapers with British newspapers, for example). This kind of formal English, particularly written English, is often called "standard English".[2][3]
The spoken forms of British English vary considerably, reflecting a long history of dialect development amid isolated populations. In the United Kingdom, dialects, word use and accents vary not only between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also within them. Received Pronunciation (RP) refers to a way of pronouncing Standard English that is actually used by about two percent of the UK population.[4] It remains the accent upon which dictionary pronunciation guides are based, and for teaching English as a foreign language. It is referred to colloquially as "the Queen's English", "Oxford English" and "BBC English", although by no means all who live in Oxford speak with such accent and the BBC does not require or use it exclusively.[5]
An unofficial standard for spoken American English has also developed, as a result of mass media and geographic and social mobility, and broadly describes the English typically heard from network newscasters, commonly referred to as non-regional diction, although local newscasters tend toward more parochial forms of speech.[6] Despite this unofficial standard, regional variations of American English have not only persisted but have actually intensified, according to linguist William Labov.[citation needed]
Regional dialects in the United States typically reflect some elements of the language of the main immigrant groups in any particular region of the country, especially in terms of pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary. Scholars have mapped at least four major regional variations of spoken American English: Northern, Southern, Midland, and Western.[7] After the American Civil War, the settlement of the western territories by migrants from the east led to dialect mixing and levelling, so that regional dialects are most strongly differentiated in the eastern parts of the country that were settled earlier. Localized dialects also exist with quite distinct variations, such as in Southern Appalachia and New York.
British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world. For instance member nations of the Commonwealth where English is not spoken natively, such as India, often closely follow British English forms, while many American English usages are followed in other countries which have been historically influenced by the United States, such as the Philippines. Although most dialects of English used in the former British Empire outside of North America and Australia are, to various extents, based on British English, most of the countries concerned have developed their own unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms and vocabulary. Chief among other English dialects are Canadian English (based on the English of United Empire Loyalists who left the 13 Colonies),[8] and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in number of native speakers.
For the most part American vocabulary, phonology and syntax are used, to various extents, in Canada; therefore many prefer to refer to North American English rather than American English.[9] Nonetheless Canadian English also features many British English items and is often described as a unique blend of the two larger varieties alongside several distinctive Canadianisms. Australian English likewise blends American and British alongside native usages, but retains a significantly higher degree of distinctiveness from both of the larger varieties than does Canadian English, particularly in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.

Historical background

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The English language was first introduced to the Americas by British colonization, beginning in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. Similarly, the language spread to numerous other parts of the world as a result of British trade and colonization elsewhere and the spread of the former British Empire, which, by 1921, held sway over a population of 470–570 million people, approximately a quarter of the world's population at that time.
Over the past 400 years the form of the language used in the Americas—especially in the United States—and that used in the United Kingdom have diverged in a few minor ways, leading to the versions now occasionally referred to as American English and British English. Differences between the two include pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary (lexis), spelling, punctuation, idioms, formatting of dates and numbers, although the differences in written and most spoken grammar structure tend to be much less than those of other aspects of the language in terms of mutual intelligibility. A small number of words have completely different meanings in the two versions or are even unknown or not used in one of the versions. One particular contribution towards formalizing these differences came from Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary (published 1828) with the intention of showing that people in the United States spoke a different dialect from Britain, much like a regional accent.
This divergence between American English and British English has provided opportunities for humorous comment, e.g. George Bernard Shaw said that the United States and United Kingdom are "two countries divided by a common language";[10] and Oscar Wilde wrote "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language" (The Canterville Ghost, 1888). Henry Sweet incorrectly predicted in 1877 that within a century American English, Australian English and British English would be mutually unintelligible. It may be the case that increased worldwide communication through radio, television, the Internet and globalization has reduced the tendency of regional variation. This can result either in some variations becoming extinct (for instance, the wireless, being progressively superseded by the radio) or in the acceptance of wide variations as "perfectly good English" everywhere. Often at the core of the dialect though, the idiosyncrasies remain.
Although spoken American and British English are generally mutually intelligible, there are occasional differences which might cause embarrassment—for example, in American English a rubber is usually interpreted as a condom rather than an eraser; and a British fanny refers to the female pubic area, while the American fanny refers to an ass (US) or an arse (UK).



Formal and notional agreement

In BrE, collective nouns can take either singular (formal agreement) or plural (notional agreement) verb forms, according to whether the emphasis is on the body as a whole or on the individual members respectively; compare a committee was appointed with the committee were unable to agree.[11][12] The term the Government always takes a plural verb in British civil service convention, perhaps to emphasize the principle of cabinet collective responsibility.[13] Compare also the following lines of Elvis Costello's song "Oliver's Army": Oliver's Army are on their way / Oliver's Army is here to stay. Some of these nouns, for example staff,[14] actually combine with plural verbs most of the time.
In AmE, collective nouns are almost always singular in construction: the committee was unable to agree. However, when a speaker wishes to emphasize that the individuals are acting separately, a plural pronoun may be employed with a singular or plural verb: the team takes their seats or the team take their seats, rather than the team takes its seats. However, such a sentence would most likely be recast as the team members take their seats.[15] Despite exceptions such as usage in The New York Times, the names of sports teams are usually treated as plurals even if the form of the name is singular.[16]
The difference occurs for all nouns of multitude, both general terms such as team and company and proper nouns (for example where a place name is used to refer to a sports team). For instance,
BrE: The Clash are a well-known band; AmE: The Clash is a well-known band.
BrE: Spain are the champions; AmE: Spain is the champion.
Proper nouns that are plural in form take a plural verb in both AmE and BrE; for example, The Beatles are a well-known band; The Saints are the champions, with one major exception: largely for historical reasons, in American English, the United States is is almost universal. This is due to the growth in federal control over state governments following the American Civil War (cf. the inclusion of the term "indivisible" in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag); before this, the construction "the United States are" was more common.[17]


Verb morphology

  • The past tense and past participle of the verbs learn, spoil, spell, burn, dream, smell, spill, leap, and others, can be either irregular (learnt, spoilt, etc.) or regular (learned, spoiled, etc.). In BrE, both irregular and regular forms are current, but for some words (such as smelt and leapt) there is a strong tendency towards the irregular forms, especially by users of Received Pronunciation. For other words (such as dreamed, leaned, and learned[18]) the regular forms are somewhat more common. In most accents of AmE, the irregular forms are never or rarely used (except for burnt, leapt and dreamt).[19]
    The t endings may be encountered frequently in older American texts. Usage may vary when the past participles are used as adjectives, as in burnt toast. (The two-syllable form learnèd /
    ˈlɜrnɪd/, usually written without the grave, is used as an adjective to mean "educated" or to refer to academic institutions in both BrE and AmE.) Finally, the past tense and past participle of dwell and kneel are more commonly dwelt and knelt in both standards, with dwelled and kneeled as common variants in the US but not in the UK.
Lit as the past tense of light is more common than lighted in the UK; American English uses lit to mean "set afire" / "kindled" / "made to emit light" but lighted to mean "cast light upon" (e.g., "The stagehand lighted the set and then lit a cigarette.").[20] Conversely, British English favours fitted as the past tense of fit generally, whereas the preference of American English is more complex: AmEng prefers fitted for the metaphorical sense of having made an object [adjective-]"fit" (i.e., suited) for a purpose; in spatial transitive contexts, AmEng uses fitted for the sense of having made an object conform to an unchanged object that it surrounds (e.g., "fitted X around Y") but fit for the sense of having made an object conform to an unchanged objec

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