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Thread: morphemes

  1. #1
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    Question morphemes

    Dear all;

    Would ya please determine the number of morphemes in the structure of the following phrase? (Specially the underlined one),

    women’s association”

    Thanks amillion

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    Donbelid's Avatar
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    Re: morphemes

    I believe "women's" is made up of two morphemes:
    1) women
    2) 's

    association
    1) associate
    2) -tion

    What do you think?!!

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    Question Re: morphemes

    Quote Originally Posted by Donbelid
    I believe "women's" is made up of two morphemes:
    1) women
    2) 's
    association
    1) associate
    2) -tion
    What do you think?!!
    Hi Doubled;
    Welcome, thanks for your reply. But my problem is: I wonder if women’s has two morphemes or three? (And also consider that women is plural)

    (1)Women’s: /women/ /’s/ →2

    (2)Women’s : /women/ {pl} /’s/ → 3


    Which one? I’m really confused

    Regards

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: morphemes

    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'?

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    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Re: morphemes

    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.

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    Re: 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

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: morphemes

    Quote Originally Posted by JJM Ballantyne

    But there are those who would argue Old English "wo-" cannot be a morpheme because it has no stand-alone meaning in modern English.
    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. .

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    Re: morphemes

    Quote Originally Posted by Donbelid
    AND there is no infix in English language.
    The existence of infixes in English:

    "Denning and Leben don’t discuss infixes. (They are
    fairly rare, but they exist in English."
    web.ics.purdue.edu/~baxters/227_f02_note4_shorter.pdf
    "English infixes are rare"
    www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~pxc/nlpa/2005/NLPA-Morph.pdf


    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:
    http://www.ling.udel.edu/arena/morphology.html
    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

    kiri.ling.cam.ac.uk/mark/2005SOE2.pdf
    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.

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    Question Re: morphemes

    Quote Originally Posted by Donbelid
    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
    Hi;

    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/)
    woman→ women
    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

  10. #10
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    Re: morphemes

    When in doubt, ask, "Is it productive?"

    EX: wo-, "women"

    "wo-" isn't a minimal unit of meaning.

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