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  1. #1
    angel-girl1 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Hi,

    My textbook states,

    "If we consider the word morbid, we will immediately notice that we cannot break it down into mor and bid because although bid has a constant meaning in a variety of contexts, it does not have that meaning in morbid. Further, mor in the word in question does not have any meaning of its own although it recurs in words like moral and mordant."

    According to the explanation above, the word 'morbid' has one morph, so it is a free morpheme.

    However,

    "Roots are also occasionally bound morphs. These are called bound roots. Bound roots are often foreign borrowings that were free in the source language, but not free in English. For example, in the following sets of words, we would all intuitively identify the root {-vert}, {-mit}, or {-ceive} (in part because it occurs in a number of words, as do the prefixes). However -vert, -mit, and -ceive cannot stand alone as independent words, and we would also find it very difficult to state the meaning of any of these roots, unless we know Latin, from
    which these words derive."
    The structure of modern language, Laurel J. Brinton.

    According to the explanation above, the word conceive has two morphs.

    I am confused. Should I follow my textbook or the the other book?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Quote Originally Posted by angel-girl1 View Post
    Hi,

    My textbook states,

    "If we consider the word morbid, we will immediately notice that we cannot break it down into mor and bid because although bid has a constant meaning in a variety of contexts, it does not have that meaning in morbid. Further, mor in the word in question does not have any meaning of its own although it recurs in words like moral and mordant."

    According to the explanation above, the word 'morbid' has one morph, so it is a free morpheme.

    However,

    "Roots are also occasionally bound morphs. These are called bound roots. Bound roots are often foreign borrowings that were free in the source language, but not free in English. For example, in the following sets of words, we would all intuitively identify the root {-vert}, {-mit}, or {-ceive} (in part because it occurs in a number of words, as do the prefixes). However -vert, -mit, and -ceive cannot stand alone as independent words, and we would also find it very difficult to state the meaning of any of these roots, unless we know Latin, from
    which these words derive."
    The structure of modern language, Laurel J. Brinton.

    According to the explanation above, the word conceive has two morphs.

    I am confused. Should I follow my textbook or the the other book?

    Thanks.
    Unless I've missed something (and that's possible), the advice from the two sources is consistent. If you could identify string 'mor' as a word with English or other language meaning, and that meaning was used in the full word, 'mor' would be a morpheme. But you can't, in any language. 'The words starting with 'mor' seem to have no connection leading you to think of 'mor' as being a morpheme.
    A string of letters doesn't necessarily make a morpheme simply because more than one word starts with it. eg. "Fresh, free, freckle" don't start with a morpheme 'fre', but "freedom, freeman, freeloader" do start with a morpheme, "free".
    Moving to the non-English words, -vert, (to turn) -mit, (with) and -ceive (?), we do get an idea that they have similar meanings.
    Consider "conceive, receive, perceive". 'ceive' appears to mean "getting something" a conception is something you get in your mind; reception obviously related to receiving/getting; perceive is to get something through perception, etc. So that is a separate morpheme.

    Is there a difference between the texts that I've missed, and that you think is important. Or any follow-up question?

    There's sometimes a bit of guessing you have to do. Whereas 'mor' is not a morpheme, 'mort' is, as in, 'mortuary, 'mortician', 'mortified'.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Well put I've always had trouble distinguishing morphemes from roots, and I think you've done it.

  4. #4
    angel-girl1 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Thanks a lot, Raymott.

    I have another question if you don't mind.
    How can 'receive' be divided into morphemes?

    I would divide it as follows: {re-}+{-ceive}
    {re-} is a bound root, not a prefix.

    Correct me, please.

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Quote Originally Posted by angel-girl1 View Post
    Thanks a lot, Raymott.

    I have another question if you don't mind.
    How can 'receive' be divided into morphemes?

    I would divide it as follows: {re-}+{-ceive}
    {re-} is a bound root, not a prefix.

    Correct me, please.
    A prefix is a morpheme. They are both bound morphemes because they can't occur alone (like say, 'free' can).
    All affixes (prefixes, suffixes, infixes) are bound morphemes, but not all bound morphemes are affixes.
    I would call 'ceive' the bound root, not 're'. I don't think you could call 'ceive' a suffix here.
    (I hope I'm not doing your homework for you!)

  6. #6
    angel-girl1 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Thanks, Raymott.

    I meant even though {re} sounds like the prefix 're', it doesn't have the meaning of 'again'.

    That I am trying to understand one word and not many implies it is not a homework.

  7. #7
    Route21's Avatar
    Route21 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Sorry, but I've only just seen this thread.

    One reason why the word "morbid" can't be broken down into "mor" and "bid" is simply that it comes from the Latin "morbus/morbidus". If anything then, it would be "morb" (the Latin root?) + "id" (a contraction of the Latin way of forming adjectives from nouns)

    morbid - definition of morbid by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
    [from Latin morbidus sickly, from morbus illness]

    "Idem" is also Latin for "same"

    Regards
    R21
    Last edited by Route21; 04-May-2013 at 11:36. Reason: *'s tend appear randomly in items I cut and paste from elsewhere. BB code problem?

  8. #8
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Quote Originally Posted by angel-girl1 View Post
    Hi,

    My textbook states,

    "If we consider the word morbid, we will immediately notice that we cannot break it down into mor and bid because although bid has a constant meaning in a variety of contexts, it does not have that meaning in morbid. Further, mor in the word in question does not have any meaning of its own although it recurs in words like moral and mordant."

    According to the explanation above, the word 'morbid' has one morph, so it is a free morpheme.

    However,

    "Roots are also occasionally bound morphs. These are called bound roots. Bound roots are often foreign borrowings that were free in the source language, but not free in English. For example, in the following sets of words, we would all intuitively identify the root {-vert}, {-mit}, or {-ceive} (in part because it occurs in a number of words, as do the prefixes). However -vert, -mit, and -ceive cannot stand alone as independent words, and we would also find it very difficult to state the meaning of any of these roots, unless we know Latin, from
    which these words derive."
    The structure of modern language, Laurel J. Brinton.

    According to the explanation above, the word conceive has two morphs.

    I am confused. Should I follow my textbook or the the other book?

    Thanks.
    The first source seems amateurish and naive to me. How can a so-called lexicographer mistake the roots for death, bite and morals? They look alike but are unrelated:

    mordant < F mordre < Vulgar Latin *mordĕre (cf. ital. mordere, cat., esp., port. morder), class. mordēre «entamer avec les dents», p. ext. en parlant du froid ou de paroles «tourmenter, piquer, chagriner» (grasp, seize).

    morbid < F morbide < Lat. morbidus «malade, malsain», dér. de morbus «maladie» (sick, ill).

    moral < F moral < Lat. moralis «relatif aux moeurs» (relating to mores, morals).

    Personally I would give the first text zero credibility.

  9. #9
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    The first source seems amateurish and naive to me. How can a so-called lexicographer mistake the roots for death, bite and morals? They look alike but are unrelated:
    Um, aren't you agreeing with the first source, as it's presented here? They say that 'morbid' can't be broken down further. Therefore 'morbid' is one morpheme. It doesn't say that words starting with 'mor' are related.
    Last edited by Raymott; 04-May-2013 at 15:55. Reason: typo

  10. #10
    konungursvia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Morphemes of words with 'mor' moral, morbid, mordant...

    Maybe, if it's a text for absolute beginners, demonstrating a sort of counter-example of how not to read roots as they appear. But asserting that 'mor' recurs in the words given implies, to me, that the author thinks the same thing is appearing in each. Maybe, as you imply, he is adopting that position for didactic reasons.

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