Morphology: The Importance of Morpheme for Teacher

The Importance of Morpheme for Teacher
Submitted to fulfill Morphology Final Assignment

Lecturer: Uci Sanusi Drs.

Arranged by:

Dian Rosdiana
NIM 2009041068
Class 2 F

Faculty of Teacher Training and Education


1. Definition of Morphology
Morphology is the study of morphemes or the formation, internal structures or composition of words and how they can be modified. Or in another word we can say that morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of morphemes and other units of meaning in a language like words, affixes, and parts of speech and intonation/stress, implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). Or in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, ASHornby,: “morphology is a study of the morphemes of a language and how they are combined to make word”.
Whereas morphemes, we can identify it by three criteria:
a. It is a word or part of a word that has meaning.
b. It cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts without violation of its meaning or without meaningless remainders.
c. It recurs in differing word environments with a relatively stable meaning.
For instance; smuggle, bear, doll, and the other words are the example of morphemes. Or, childish, dangerous, unfortunately, disagreement, etc are also the example of morphemes. But, it contains of the part of words such as –ish, -ous, -ly, dis-, etc and it can’t stand alone. We can take the word straight /stret/. It is obviously recognized as a word by English speakers. Although we can divide it up in all sorts of ways (trait /tret/, rate /ret/, ate /et/), they all mean something different and leave us with meaningless remainders like /s-/, /st-/, and /str-/. The unit /stret/ occurs with relatively stable meaning in words like straighten, a straight line, and straightedge.
We can divide the morphemes into free and bound morphemes. Free morphemes are morphemes that can stand alone and have meaning as a word. For examples are key, board, carry, air, etc or we can say that all ‘pure’ words are free morpheme. Then another morpheme is bound morphemes or morphemes that can’t stand alone, but must be attached to another morpheme to have meaning. For examples are straighten, inactive, seriousness, etc.

The morphemes –en, in-, -ness are bound morphemes. But if the morphemes are not attached with another morphemes, so it will not create a meaning. We can take an example, if –en is alone, it doesn’t have any meaning. But when it is connected with dark, become darken, it can be accepted and it has a meaning (verb).
We also often hear a base. It is the part of a word that carries its principal
meaning. Often it can be a free morpheme, such as {bright}, but it can also be bound. Most bases that are bound morphemes come in words of foreign origin. For example, the {sent} in consent and dissent has nothing to do with “sending”; it comes from the Latin word sentire “to feel”.
A word must contain one base and may contain one or more bound morphemes called affixes. An affix is a generic term for a bound morpheme that is not a base. If it occurs before the base it is called a prefix. If it occurs after the base, it is called a suffix. There is also a type of affix called an infix, which actually goes in the middle of the base. But these are very rare in English.
2. Derivational and Inflectional Affixes
a. Derivational affixes
Some affixes have the effect of creating new words, although the end result may or may not have a closely related meaning. For instance, the affix
{-en} added to {gold} will produce golden, the adjective form of gold. The prefix {con} added to {sent} will produce consent, whereas the prefix {dis} added to {sent} will produce dissent, quite a different meaning! Affixes of these types are called derivational morphemes. Sometimes derivational morphemes change the part of speech, converting, say a verb to a noun (like break/breakage), or a noun to an adjective (like day/daily). Sometimes they derive a new word of the same part of speech like camp/camper. They can even have feminine meaning, like fiancé/fiancée or baron/baroness. Sometimes they have diminutive meanings like dog/doggy, cat/kitten. English has a great variety of derivational suffixes, in part because it has borrowed many from other languages.
• has the permanent effect of changing the word.
• creating different lexical item.
b. Inflectional affixes (or just inflections)
are morphemes which supplement the meaning of the base with information about the grammatical significance of the word in a particular sentence. Hence the introduction of the underlined inflections in the following sentences does not change the basic meanings of the words but does give us essential information such as “How many?”, “When?”, and “How much?”. Let see:
1. The boy played with the dog/dogs.
3. The boy plays/played with the dog.
4. The boy is happy/happier/happiest when playing with the dog.
• it’s effect is temporary in that it changes the form of the word.
• It doesn’t create new word but adapts existing word so that they operate effectively in sentence.
The inflectional system in English can be summarized as follows:
Inflection Name Examples
Noun Inflections
{-s pl} Noun plural dogs, bushes
{-s poss} Noun possessive boy’s, boys’, Ariel’s
Verb Inflections
{-s 3rd singular pres} 3rd person singular present: runs, catches
{-ing vb} present participle: discussing, laughing
{-ed past} past tense: chewed, considered
{-d past part} past participle: chewed, eaten, seen
Adjective Inflections
{-er comp} comparative bolder, sooner, nearer
{-est super} superlative boldest, soonest, nearest
• derivational morphemes are always prefixes or suffixes
• inflectional morphemes are always suffixes or infixes. Suffixes that do not have one of the inflectional meanings listed above are not inflectional; they are derivational. Inflections often have allomorphs such as /s/ and /z/ for {-s pl}, or even the so-called zeroallomorph.

3. Word Formation
It is the creation of a new word. It is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word’s meaning. The line between word formation and semantic change is sometimes a bit blurry; what one person views as a new use of an old word, another person might view as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form; conversion. Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expression, though sometimes words can form from multi-word phrases; compound and incorporation .
a. Simple
A simple word consists of a single free morpheme: like wheel, fly, long, night, old, or spirit, etc.
b. Complex
Complex words consist of either two bound morphemes (matricide, televise, exclude, cosmonaut), or a bound morpheme and a free morpheme (lioness, telephone, eraser, pyromania).
c. Compound
Compound words consist of two free morphemes. Compound words bear a strong resemblance to grammatical constructions consisting of more than one separate word. In fact, they often imply concepts that can be expressed by grammatical constructions:
1. subject + verb; earthquake (when the earth quakes)
2. verb + object; killjoy (someone who kills joy)
3. verb + adverbial; downpour (when something pours down)
4. subject + adjective; high chair (a chair that is high)
4. Word Etymologies

many words in English have been borrowed from other languages like French and Latin. Any good dictionary will give you the origin or etymology of a word, whether it goes back to Old English, the earliest form, or whether it has been borrowed from another language. But English speakers do not rely on the current stock of vocabulary and borrowing from other languages. There are a number of other processes by which new words are created. We’ll quickly go through a numbers of them:
a) Compounding (we have discussed it above)
b) Borrowing, or taking a word from one language and incorporating it into another, or we can mention it as loanwords . For examples, from Germany is yogurt, from Turkey is pistol, from Czech is robot, or from all over the world such as biology, boxer, ozone, etc.
c) Derivation: by adding derivational suffixes to word bases, new word can be created. Examples are: dis-advise, de-plane, tele-play, eco-system, counselor-ship, and Mc-Anything.
d) Invention: some words are totally made up by stringing together meaningless phonemes. Examples are Kodak, nylon, dingbat, goof, and blurb.
e) Echoism: words whose sound suggests their meaning. Examples such as hiss, peewee, clang, quack, whisper. This is often called onomatopoeia.
f) Clipping: words created by cutting off the beginning or the end of a word, or both, leaving a part to stand for the whole. Examples are: lab, dorm, prof, exam, plane, phone, flu, fridge, sitcom, math(s). Cf. Also US English pissed.
g) Acronym: acronyms are words formed from the initials or beginning sounds of a succession of words Examples are: MP (Member of Parliament or military police), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and radar (radio detecting and ranging).
h) Blending: words formed by fusing two words into one. Examples are: brunch, simulcast, motel, smog.
i) Eponym or coinage is creation of totally new word. This word formation process is not frequent, however large corporations attempt to outdo one another to invent short eye-catching names for their products. Some examples of these could include aspirin or Xerox. Sometimes the products that the companies want to sell simply take over the name of the creator or inventor. Some well known eponym include sandwich or hoover. They are very frequently used in science where units of measurement are named after people like hertz, volt, (degree) Celsius, etc.
j) Conversion (linguistics) is forming a new word from an existing identical one. For example; forming the verb green from the existing adjective, or forming the verb water from the existing noun, etc.
k) Agglutination is the process of forming new words from existing ones by adding affixes to them, like shame+less+ness= shamelessness.
l) Back-formation is removing seeming affixes from existing words, like write from writer, edit from editor, etc.

All linguistics lessons have function to help a teacher in teaching his or her students. In this case is morphology. Of course it also has several benefits for the teacher:
1. As we know that the teachers are facilitators in teaching and learning a lesson. It means they have to provide easiness for their students. Therefore, if they master morphology well, of course they will share it easily to their students. We can imagine if a teacher doesn’t master morphology, but he or she must share it to his or her students. Of course, it will not be effective. They will not get the ease to share it, but they will face some difficulties before.
2. The teachers also become the communicators in the class with their students. If they tell something with untrue grammar, pronunciation or structure, of course the students can’t see what they mean. Proven, morphology is one of important linguistic subject to support their communication in English.
3. The teachers are the model for their students. So that it is not something strange if the students imitate their teachers, including their way to spell, read or communicate. Then, the worst thing is they give wrong way in their communication and their students imitate it. Sure, it will be a big problem. It not only breaks the students’ understanding, but also the teachers will be shy because of their mistakes.
4. The teachers can give or check the students exercise very well. For instance, if the teachers master morphology well, of course they will know what the students’ mistake is. Then it can be implemented in all English skills. For example the teachers can find some students failure in writing ‘waited’ when they’re listening to /waited/ or ‘watch’ when they’re listening to /watches/. The teachers can identify that the students haven’t understood enough with morphology that differentiate derivational and inflectional, which one changes the word class, or just its spelling.
5. If the teachers master morphology well, they can evaluate the students’ failure or mistakes in understanding and using English. For example in pacing a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Proven, mastering morphology gives good effect in determining the students’ understanding and development.

After describing and explaining all about morphology and its function to English teachers, I conclude that:
1) Morphology explains and manages morphemes or the formation, internal structures or composition of words and how they can be modified.
2) Morphology explains about affixes, prefixes, derivational and inflectional affixes, word formation, etc.
3) Morphology is very important and useful for teachers as facilitator, communicators, models, supervisors and evaluators.
4) By using morphology, the teachers can determine the students understanding level in English.


• Hurry, J., Nunes, T., Bryant, P., Pretzlik, U., Parker, M., Curno, C., & Midgley, L. (2005) Transforming research on morphology into teacher practice Research Papers In Education 20(2), pp.187-206
• Dr. C. George Boeree, Morphology: 2003
• Aronoff, Mark. (1993). “Morphology by Itself”. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
• Bauer, Laurie. (2004). A glossary of morphology. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown UP.
• Bubenik, Vit. (1999). An introduction to the study of morphology. LINCON coursebooks

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