Morphology Essay

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MORPHOLOGY Morphology is a sub discipline of linguistics that studies word structure. While words are generally accepted as being the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules. For example, any English speaker can see that the words dog, dogs and dog-catcher are closely related. English speakers can also recognize that these relations can be formulated as rules that can apply to many, many other pairs of words. Dog is to dogs just as cat is to cats, or encyclopedia is to encyclopedias; dog is to dogcatcher as dish is to dishwasher. The rule in the first case is plural formation; in the second case, a transitive verb and a noun playing the role of its object can form a word. Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies such rules across and within languages. The use of morphology dates back to the ancient Indian linguist Panini who formulated the 3,959 rules of Sanskrit morphology in the text Ashtadhyayi. The term morphology was coined by August Schleicher in 1859. IMPORTANT CONCEPTS Lexemes and Word forms The word "word" is ambiguous in common usage. To take up again the example of dog vs. dogs, there is one sense in which these two are the same "word" (they are both nouns that refer to the same kind of animal, differing only in number), and another sense in which they are different words (they can't generally be used in the same sentences without altering other words to fit; for example, the verbs is and are in The dog is happy and The dogs are happy). The distinction between these two senses of "word" is probably the most important one in morphology. The first sense of "word," the one in which dog and dogs are "the same word," is called lexeme. The second sense is called word form. We thus say that dog and dogs are different forms of the same lexeme. Dog and dog-catcher,

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