Dictionary of Arguments

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Morpheme: a morpheme is the smallest linguistic meaningful unit. A word may be divided into several morphemes.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
I 172
Def Morpheme/Lyons: units that cannot be further classified for distribution: Example "un" "accept" "able". ( See Distribution/Lyons).
I 184
Def Morpheme/Lyons: most authors: define the morpheme as the smallest unit of grammatical analysis. (Often, however, the word is also regarded as the smallest unit. Both, however, are not completely universal features).
Morpheme: must be distinguished from the phonological or orthographic form.
Morpheme: Is (other than the sound or the character) a distributional unit.
Decomposition: of words: is a gradual, non-principled matter.
Fixed segmentation: e.g. boy-s, jump-ed, jump-ing, tall-er,
I 185
Non-defined segmentation:
Example Some plurals: men, children, mice, sheep.
Example Strong verbs: went, took, came, run, cut,
Example Irregular comparatives and superlatives: better, best, worse, worst
Solution: there is a certain orthographic relationship between man and men and between mouse and mice.
Problem: Example bad - worse, Example go - went. These cannot be segmented.
Solution: Distribution, the Morpheme as a distributional unit:
I 186
Analogy: One can say that bad differs from worse as tall differs from tall-er.
Bad: worse: worst = tall: taller: tallest
Tradition: would say that these adjectives cannot occur in the same group of sentences, i.e. cannot qualify the same nouns.
Distribution: the different adjectives (here: also comparatives) do not have the same distributional distribution. (See Distribution/Lyons).
N.B.: then we can see morphemes as a distribution feature, and thus as a component of the adjective. ((s) taller is used in a context other than tall and must therefore have a feature that tall does not have and vice versa. And the same must apply to bad and worse).
First of all, then:

A : B : C = D : E : F

Then segmentation in factors:

Ax : bx : cx = ay : by : cy

Def Morpheme/Lyons: Morphemes are then the distributional factors or components of the words.
Distribution: of a word: is then the product of the distribution of the morpheme it consists of.
I 187
Morpheme/Lyons: is not itself a word segment! It has no position within the word!
Def Morph/Lyons: if a word can be divided into segments (these are not the morphemes!) then these segments are called morphs.
Example bigger: has two morphs: {big}, {er}. (Also Morphemes).
Notation: Morphs: curly bracket.
Irregular verbs/morpheme/morph/solution/Lyons: then we can say that e.g. went, that cannot be broken down into more morphs, consists of the two morphemes {go} and {ed}.
(Morpheme/((s): is therefore an abstract component of meaning - Morph/Lyons: a unit that can ultimately be found phonologically or orthographically in the word.)
Def Allomorph/Lyons: a certain morpheme can be represented by different morphs (in different environments).
I 188
Example: Plural morpheme of English: {s} is represented by the allomorphs /s/, /z/ and /iz/.
I 191
Def Insulating Language/Lyons: (also "analytical") (according to the 19th century classification system): is a language whose words are unchangeable, e.g. Vietnamese, then there is no distinction between word and morpheme. This also applies to Chinese, with some restrictions.
Def Agglutinating/Language/Lyons: here the words are mostly composed of a sequence of morphemes, each morph representing a morpheme.
I 192
Example Turkish:
Plural. {ler}
Possessive morph: {i} (be, you, etc)
Ablative morph: {den}.
They always retain their phonological identity.
In a word, each morph represents exactly one morpheme.
Def Inflecting/Language/Lyons: an inflectional language is present when words can only be arbitrarily and inconsistently broken down into morphs, whereby there is a variety of allomorphs,
Example Latin:
domus (nominative, singular)
domi (genitive, singular)
I 193
Tradition/Lyons: introduced the terms declination and conjugation because of the difficulty of decomposing Latin words into morphs.
I 194
Latin: there is no correspondence between the word segments and the morphemes. Even if we segment domus, domi etc. into the morph dom (or the allomorph dom domo) and segment a series of "endings", we could not say that a part of us (or s) represents {singular} and another part {nominal} etc. Instead: we would have to say that they represent it at the same time.
I 196
Morpheme/Morph/Lyons: the relationship between them is not purely grammatical. For example, Latin words can be divided into distributional factors just as well as Turkish words.
Inflecting/Agglutinating: the difference is not in the grammatical structure, but in the way in which the smallest grammatical units are represented in phonological or orthographic form.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

John Lyons
Semantics Cambridge, MA 1977

Lyons I
John Lyons
Introduction to Theoretical Lingustics, Cambridge/MA 1968
German Edition:
Einführung in die moderne Linguistik München 1995

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2019-03-21
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