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Language & Mind Summer 2011. Words Perhaps the most conspicuous, most easily extractable aspect of language. Cf. phone, phoneme, syllable NB word vis.

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Presentation on theme: "Language & Mind Summer 2011. Words Perhaps the most conspicuous, most easily extractable aspect of language. Cf. phone, phoneme, syllable NB word vis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language & Mind Summer 2011

2 Words Perhaps the most conspicuous, most easily extractable aspect of language. Cf. phone, phoneme, syllable NB word vis a vis speech stream (a la figure-ground in cognition), i.e. word’s are prominent are thus given primacy in common considerations of language; they’re also exalted (in religion, as well as in academia). Words are minimal free forms: independent from others in sentence; + no smaller bit has such freedom.

3 The structure of words Simple words Have no internal structure Farm, kill, duck Complex words Can be divided into smaller pieces AKA morphemes Farmer, kills, duckling English complex words are made up of relatively few morphemes. Cf. Yu’pik: kai-pia-llru-llini-u-k (‘the two of them were apparently really hungry’)

4 Morphemes & allomorphs Morphemes The smallest meaningful linguistic unit Allomorphs One of the alternative phonemic forms of a morpheme. The prefix ‘in-’ has 4 allomorphs 3 rd person sg present tense: kills, pats, touches Indefinite article: a,an

5 Allomorphs ‘allos’ don’t contrast (allo- = Greek for ‘other’) Complementary distribution a & an Cf. /p/ at beginning vs. end of word Free variation Cf. alternate realizations of ‘exit’ and ‘off’ However, cf. ‘exist’ vs. ‘excel’ (near minimal pairs)

6 Allomorphs E.g. Plural ‘s’ and he/she/it verb+’s’ Both have the same three phonological forms: …resulting in 6 morphs E.g. cap,bud,bush; fit,tag,kiss …which form 2 sets of allomorphs …of 2 morphemes

7 Morpheme types: by occurrence Free morphemes Simple words consist of a single morpheme, and thus they are free morphemes. ‘a potential to occur independently’ NB not all free morphemes in sentences are words. Bound morphemes (-er, -s, -ing, un-, re-…) Affixes: prefixes, suffixes, infixes A morpheme can have free & bound allomorphs: E.g. not - …n’t ‘deride’-’derision’

8 Morpheme types: by function Lexical morphemes Convey major content of message; Open set; Free lexical morphemes = Free roots (May serve as base for bound morphemes) Bound: Lexical roots & Derivational affixes Grammatical morphemes (‘function morphemes’) Mainly give info about grammatical structure; Closed set Free & Bound grammatical morphemes Bound: inflectional & clitics

9 Lexical morphemes Bound roots E.g. derision, submit, receive…(Latinate, ‘academic’ words) Derivational affixes Attach to a lexical root and make a new word (a complex lexeme called a ‘stem’) E.g. baker (-er), tearful (-ful), childish (-ish)… A new meaning and (sometimes) a new part of speech are derived

10 Grammatical morphemes ‘function morphemes’ Mainly give info about grammatical structure Generally demanded by the grammar Give abstract schematic meanings concerning the functions of lexical items Free grammatical morphemes Articles, pron, preps, conj, aux verbs And, but, if, or, the, on, that… Bound grammatical morphemes Inflectional affixes (8: -s, -s, -s, -ed, -ing, -en, -er, -est) They don’t change the meaning (much)

11 Grammatical morphemes Bound grammatical morphemes Inflectional affixes: give grammatical info relevant to the interpretation of sentence. Don’t give rise to new lexical words, but to diff forms of a single word, different forms appropriate for use of that word a sentence. Servi consulem audiunt vs. Consul servos audit The slaves hear the consul The consul hears the slaves noun+ /i/ = subject-pl; n+/em/=obj-sg; …-verb+/unt/; verb+/t/

12 Allomorphic conditioning Types of allomorphs Phonological allomorphs E.g. possessive and plural ‘s’ Suppletive allomorphs E.g. good, better, best; go,went,gone

13 Allomorphic conditioning Types of conditioning factors Phonological conditioning Indefinite article Possesive Lexical conditioning Depends on word: irregular plural nouns, past tense : irregular plural

14 Allomorphic conditioning Morphological rules Like identifying abstract phonemic forms that are realized by phones, it can be descriptively and conceptually useful to identify abstract forms for morphemes that are realized by different phonological allomorphs. Thus the Eng. regular past suffix has 3 allomorphs, which are in complementary distribution. We can presume they are alternative realizations of a more abstract form of the morpheme (cf. phonemes)

15 Morphological description Locative case in Turkish Four allomorphs – each influenced by its phonological environment

16 Morphological analysis Hungarian verbs p 72 Suppletive allomorphs 3 rd pers sg – unmarked (not uncommon) Nb zero morphs

17 Morphological analysis by speakers Kids learn L1 starting w/ words or larger units as unanalyzed wholes. Each word is a separate sign, unrelated to others By 4 yrs kids’ vocabularies = 1000+ words i.e. ‘too many’ to treat as unique entities Thus they divide them into meaningful parts NB ‘regularizing’ irregular words (pl & past tense)

18 Morphological analysis by speakers We continue to abstract elements of words throughout adulthood, performing ad hoc analyses At times we abstract ‘meaningless’ elements and imbue them with meaning (cf. faux etymology) At times we abstract ‘meaningful’ elements and create new ‘valid’ words (cf. etymology  any new academic term from ‘atom’ to ‘zoophobia’ NB: every word was made up at some point: what words are being made up now?

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