Would ya please determine the number of morphemes in the structure of the following phrase? (Specially the underlined one),
I believe "women's" is made up of two morphemes:
What do you think?!!
Tricky one. I think it's three- the noun, the plural infix and the possessive suffix. If you had a regular plural, you say three and there is a change. Now, how many morphemes in the past participle of 'put'?
I for one am not really too convinced about the linguistic concept of "morphemes." Breaking words down this way always tends to ignore etymology. This example serves to highlight those misgivings.
Arguably, "women's" could actually be said to be made up of four morphemes:
1. "man" meaning "adult male person"
2. "wo-" meaning "wife of" therefore "adult female person"
3. plural form
4. possessive inflection/clitic "'s"
But there are those who would argue Old English "wo-" cannot be a morpheme because it has no stand-alone meaning in modern English.
Still, they would argue "association" has two morphemes even though "association" was never formed from "associate." Both came into English together fully formed from Latin via Norman French. Most "-ate/-tion" English words came into the language this way.
So in effect, we're playing fast and loose with morphemes.
At university we had an instructor who used to insist that "kind" is made up of two morphemes because "kin" itself meant relative in the past and "d" is added to this word!!! It was ridiculous of course. Morpheme has a fixed definition: "the smallest meaningful element of speech or writing". So what is the meaning of "d" in the word kind?!!!
Now we cannot cut women into smaller parts. AND there is no infix in English language. Infix is available in Tagalog where "-mu-" is seen here:
sulat = a writing
sumulat = one who wrote
It is hard to know where to draw the line. I remember seeing somewhere that wo- meant 'out of' and was a reference to the biblical creation myth- I think it was a piece of dodgy medieval morpheme study. .
Originally Posted by JJM Ballantyne
The existence of infixes in English:
Originally Posted by Donbelid
"Denning and Leben don’t discuss infixes. (They are
fairly rare, but they exist in English."
"English infixes are rare"
So, having established the existence, albeit rare, of the infix, we then look at what the infix is- it is a bound morpheme denoting plurality; therefore, while you may disagree with Curious Cat's feeling that there are three morphemes in 'women's', your claim that it is wrong to say so does not work, as a number of acceptable linguistic analyses would disagree with you. It is fine to regard it as an infix and, consequently, a bound morpheme:
Infix as bound morpheme:
This is not a simple question ad there are many ways of analysing internal and other spelling changes. Take the way this author deals with 'took':
There are various ways we could deal with these forms. Taking ‘took’, the past tense of ‘take’ as an
example (Spencer 1991: 49-50):
1) single morpheme
2) portmanteau morph, i.e. a single morph representing a combination of morphemes ‘take’ + ‘-ed’
3) ‘took’ allomorph of ‘take’ + zero allomorph of ‘-ed’
4) ‘took’ is discontinuous allomorph /t...k/ with infix allomorph /u/ of ‘-ed’
5) ‘took’ is ‘take’ with a replacive morph
Note the use of the term 'infix'. The Cat's analysis of 3 is fine and can be argued coherently and logically. In this case, I believe there are a number or ways to, err, skin a cat.
JJM does have a point about 'wo-', but I think he is right that this is more about the validity of such exercises rather than ancient etymology. There can be a number of ways of viewing the same issue.
Last edited by Tdol; 20-Dec-2005 at 04:30.
Originally Posted by Donbelid
Thanks guy,well let me first ask ya which university do ya attend? ,because it was too surprising that a university master made such a harsh mistake!fortunately we don’t have any problems ,our masters are really professional & expert specially in the course of linguistics.by the way, let me clarify the situation for you:
We have some exceptions to the pluralization rule (I just wanna describe this rule)
Change in the base without a suffix: “mutation” : a change in the vowel of the word:
foot→ feet (/u/ → /i/)
so we don’t cut women into smaller parts , just consider the plural morpheme!
Or another example “fish” in this sentence has 2 morphemes:
/There/ /are/ /some/ /fish//Ø/ /in/ /the/ /pool/.
Hope that helps
All the best
When in doubt, ask, "Is it productive?"
EX: wo-, "women"
"wo-" isn't a minimal unit of meaning.
By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
Last Post: 11-Jun-2003, 17:18
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