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Lecture Summary (11/16 & 23/2006)

These sessions were held by Mr Trippel because of Mr Gibbon's absence. The topic was called "Words and their parts". This includes the different components of words as well as word formation (consisting of simplex words, derived words and compound words).

At the start we tried to define the word "word" wich was a really hard task. We dealt with many different hypotheses and finally concluded that words make up sentences, are pronounced with speech sounds and carry meaning (including the fact that they have a meaningful strcuture).

We moved on to the definition of morphology. Morphology is the study of the formation of words. Morphemes are the smallest meaningful units of a language. One or more morphemes form a word.

After this general introduction we dealt with the basic concepts in morphology. A simple word consists of only one morpheme (e.g. boy, man, house, book, etc.). A complex word contains at least two morphemes (e.g. boys, bookshelf, etc.). A free morpheme can occur as a simple word (e.g. boy, man) whereas a bound morpheme can only occur in connection with other morphemes (e.g. suffixes like the plural -s). An allomoprh is a variant form of a morpheme (e.g. a - an).

Next we analysed the different parts of a word. The root carries the meaning (for example: the root of unbelievable is believe). Affixes are bound morphemes wich occur in most cases before the root (prefixes) or after the root (suffixes). In the word unbelievable "un" is a prefix while "able" is a suffix. Other forms of affixes are circumfixes and infixes.  The form to which an affix is attached is called base.

The next aspect were the different kinds of word formation, especially compounding and derivation (we also mentioned inflection but did not analyse it explicitly). Compounds consist of at least two roots. The second part is the head of the compound and defines its word class whereas the modifier specifies the compound. Derivation is the process of adding a morpheme to a base by which the meaning and/or wordclass of the base changes (e.g. write (verb) plus -er becomes writer (noun)).

Finally we discussed the zero derivation, a special phenomenon in English. In this case words can change their class by adding an empty morpheme (e.g. house (noun) -> to house (verb)).

31.1.07 12:13

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