, a bound morpheme
is a morpheme
(the elementary unit of morphosyntax) that can appear only as part of a larger expression; a free morpheme
(or unbound morpheme
) is one that can stand alone.
A bound morpheme is a type of bound form
, and a free morpheme is a type of free form
Roots and affixes
in English are free morphemes (e.g. ship-
in "shipment"), but others are bound (e.g. socio-
in "sociology"). Words like chairman
that contain two free morphemes (chair
) are referred to as compound
are a special form of bound morpheme whose independent meaning has been displaced and serves only to distinguish one word from another, like in cranberry,
in which the free morpheme berry
is preceded by the bound morpheme cran-,
meaning "crane" from the earlier name for the berry, "crane berry".
An Empty Morpheme is a special type of bound morpheme with no inherent meaning. Empty morphemes change the phonetics of a word but offer no semantic value to the word as a whole.
Words can be formed purely from bound morphemes, as in English permit,
ultimately from Latin per
"through" + mittō
"I send", where per-
are bound morphemes in English. However, they are often thought of as simply a single morpheme.
A similar example is given in Chinese
; most of its morphemes are monosyllabic and identified with a Chinese character
because of the largely morphosyllabic
script, but disyllabic words exist that cannot be analyzed into independent morphemes, such as 蝴蝶 húdié
'butterfly'. Then, the individual syllables and corresponding characters are used only in that word, and while they can be interpreted as bound morphemes 蝴 hú-
and 蝶 -dié,
it is more commonly considered a single disyllabic morpheme. See polysyllabic Chinese morphemes
for further discussion.
Linguists usually distinguish between productive
and unproductive forms when speaking about morphemes. For example, the morpheme ten-
was originally derived from the Latin word tenere
, "to hold", and the same basic meaning is seen in such words as "tenable" and "intention." But as ten-
is not used in English to form new words, most linguists would not consider it to be a morpheme at all.
Analytic and synthetic languages
A language with a very low ratio of morphemes to words is an isolating language
. Because such a language uses few bound morphemes, it expresses most grammatical relationships by word order
or helper words, so it is an analytic language
In contrast, a language that uses a substantial number of bound morphemes to express grammatical relationships is a synthetic language
- ^ Kroeger, Paul (2005). Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-521-01653-7.
- ^ Elson and Pickett, Beginning Morphology and Syntax, SIL, 1968, ISBN 0-88312-925-6, p6: "Morphemes which may occur alone are called free forms; morphemes which never occur alone are called bound forms."
- ^ "Word morphology". www.education.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
- ^ "L503: Morphology". cs.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
- ^ Matthews, P.H. (2014). The Concise Oxford English Dictionary of Linguistics (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191753060.
- ^ Khullar, Payal (2014-06-19). "Empty Morphemes in Linguistics". LanguageLinguistics. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
Last edited on 31 July 2021, at 21:25
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