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A morpheme is an abstract entity that is a minimal meaning carrier (or syntactic role?) of a natural language.




  • (Wikipedia, 2014) ⇒ Retrieved:2014-1-6.
    • In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word, by definition, is freestanding. Every word comprises one or more morphemes.



  • (Hausser, 2001) ⇒ Roland Hausser. (2001). “Foundations of Computational Linguistics: Human-Computer Communication in Natural Language, 2nd edition. Springer.
    • Just as sentences are composed of word forms rather than words, words forms are composed of allomorphs rather than morphemes. By analogy to the definition of a words, a morpheme is defined as the name of the set of associated allomorphs.
    • Like words forms, allomorphs are formally analyzed as ordered triples, consisting of the surface, the category, and the semantic representation.
    • The number and variation of allomorphs of a given morphemedetermine the degree of regularity of the morpheme and - in the case of a free morpheme - the associated word. An example of a regular word is the verb to learn, the morpheme of which is defined as a set contains only one allomorph .
    • A comparatively irregular word, on the other hand, is the verb to swim, the morpheme of which has four allomorphs, namely swim, swimm, swam, and swum, the change of the stem vovel may be found also in other verbs, e.g. sing, sang, sung, and is called ablaut. … Thus we say that swam is an allomorph of the morpheme swim.
    • Cases in which there is no similarity at all between the allomorphs of a given morpheme are called suppletion.
    • Whiel the regular degree in, for example, fast, fast/er, fast/est uses only one allomorph for the stem, the irregular degree in, for examples, good, bett/er, b/est uses several (for practical purposes, one may analyze good, better, best as basic allomorphs without concatenation). Even in a suppletive form like bett, the associated morpheme is readily available as the third element of the ordered triple analysis.
    • In structuralism, morphemes of the open and closed classes are called free morphemes, in contradiction to bound morphemes. A morpheme is free if it can occur as an independent word form. e.g., book. Bound morphemes, on the other hand, are affixes such as the prefixes un-, pre-, dis-, etc. and the suffixes -s, -ed, -ing, etc., which can occur only in combination with free morphemes.


  • (Carter, 1998) ⇒ Ronald Carter. (1998). “Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives; 2nd edition." Routledge.
    • QUOTE:Finally, we should note that the term word has occurred again. Here it is used informally but also because lexical 'word' and grammatical 'word' are key terms and are extensively employed in the literature. But they are reproduced here with an awareness of the theoritical importance of the notion of lexeme. In fact, the distinction drawn above between lexemes and word-forms enables an important theoretical point to be made concerning grammatical and lexical 'words': there is a regular co-occurrence between a grammatical words and its lexeme; but lexical words take on many different forms. For example, different lexical word-forms 'sing', 'sang', 'signs', 'singing', 'sung', are realized by a single lexeme SING. But a grammatical word will normally have a single word-form realized by a lexeme. Thus, the lexemes BY and OF have 'by' and 'of' as their word-forms. This observation is extended in the next section which introduces the notion of morpheme.

      A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a word. The words 'inexpensive' comprises two morphemes in and expensive. Each morpheme has its own meaning. The addition of in to expensive, for example, gives the sense of not. Morphemes can be a single orthographic letter and yet still change meaning. For example, the [math]\displaystyle{ s }[/math] in cats is a morpheme and changes the first morpheme cat from singular to plural. Other examples would be laughed which is made up of two morphemes laugh and ed ; with the addition of ed altering the tense of the first morpheme and thus the time of occurrence of the process it denotes. Or indistinguishable, which has three morphemes; and antidisestablishmentarianism, which consists of six separate morphemes.

      Two observations can me made immediately. First, morphemes convey semantico-syntactic information. Secondly, there are two classes of morphemes: morphemes which occur independenly as words and are co-terminous with specific word-forms, and morphemes which occur only as part of a word and which could not stand on their own. The first class, which are called free morphemes, would include cat, distinguish, laugh. The second class, which are called bound morphemes, would include un, s, ed, able, anti, and ism. We should note, however, that some morphemes can have the same form but still be different morphemes, for example, the 's' in cats, cats and laughs or the 'er' in smaleer, winner, eraser. These variants are usually termed allomorphs. We should also recognize that like the term lexeme, morpheme is an abstraction. To be strict, morphemes do not actually occur in words. Morphemes are realized by forms which are called morphs.

      … bound affixes [math]\displaystyle{ s }[/math], ible, and in ; but, by comparison, it is arguable whether the grammatical words the operates with an entirely 'freer' lexicality than each of the bound affixes.