Definition of Morpheme, Allomorph, Root, and Base

A. morpheme
The smallest meaningful unit in a language. A morpheme cannot be divided without altering or destroying its meaning. For example, the English word kind is a morpheme. If the d is removed, it changes to kin, which has a different meaning. Some words consist of one morpheme, e.g. kind, others of more than one. For example, the English word unkindness consists of three morphemes: the STEM1 kind, the negative prefix un-, and the noun-forming suffix -ness. Morphemes can have grammatical functions. For example, in English the –s in she talks is a grammatical morpheme which shows that the verb is the third-person singular present-tense form.
B. allomorph
any of the different forms of a MORPHEME. For example, in English the plural morpheme is often shown in writing by adding -s to the end of a word, e.g. cat /kæt/ – cats /kæts/. Sometimes this plural morpheme is pronounced /z/, e.g. dog /díg/ – dogs /dígz/, and sometimes it is pronounced /Iz/, e.g. class /klæs/ – classes /`klæsız/. /s/, /z/, and /Iz/ all have the same grammatical function in these examples, they all show plural; they are all allomorphs of the plural morpheme.
C. root
also base form
a MORPHEME which is the basic part of a word and which may, in many languages, occur on its own (e.g. English: man, hold, cold, rhythm). Roots may be joined to other roots (e.g. English: house _ hold household) and/or take AFFIXes (e.g. manly, coldness) or COMBINING FORMs (e.g. biorhythm).
D. base form
another term for ROOT OR STEM1.
For example, the English word helpful has the base form help.
E.   stem1
also base form
that part of a word to which an inflectional AFFIX is or can be added. For example, in English the inflectional affix -s can be added to the stem work to form the plural works in the works of Shakespeare. The stem of a word may be:
a.  a simple stem consisting of only one morpheme (ROOT), e.g. work
b.  a root plus a derivational affix, e.g. work _ -er _ worker
c. two or more roots, e.g. work _ shop _ workshop.
Thus we can have work _ -s _ works, (work _ -er) _ workers, or
(work _ shop) _ -s _ workshops.
F.   Stem versus roots
       STEM and ROOT are used to refer to the ‘base’ of a word. The part to which affixes attach. The distinction between them is based on the distinction between inflectional and derivational.

  
    Consider a word like ‘kickers’, it contains two suffixes, one derivational (-er), the other inflectional (-s). strip both affixes off and you are left with kick, which we call a ROOT. Add back on the derivational suffix –er and you get kicker, we call the STEM.














More generally, a root is any single morpheme which is not an affix. Normally, you can find a root by removing all the affixes (both derivational and inflectional) from a word. The stem of a word, on other hand, is found by removing all the inflectional affixes, but leaving any derivational affixes in place.

       A root is always a single morpheme. A stem on the other hand, may consists of more than one morpheme. Many stems, like cat consists of only a single root. The stem and the root are identical.













other stems consists of two or more roots, as in view-point. Neither view nor point is an affix and both are single morphemes. So they are both considered to be roots.











a stem containing more than one root is called a COMPOUND STEM or simply a COMPOUND; the process of forming such stems is called COMPOUNDING.
      Compounding may, in some cases, involve derivational affixes too, as in rabble-rouser-r; this stem consists of two roots plus a derivational suffix.






and stem may contain more than one derivational affix, as in interlinearizer (a type of computer program that is used by linguists for inserting interlinear word-by-word or morpheme-by-morpheme glosses in a text)









thus, a stem consist of one or more roots, plus zero or more derivational affixes. A root, in contrast, is always a single morpheme.
      All stems serve as the base to which inflectional affixes attach. So, for example, all the nouns mentioned above have plural forms.
a.   cat-s
b.   kicker-s
c.   viewpoint-s
d.   rabble-rouser-s

e.   interlinearizer-s









virtually all roots are also stems and the simplest stems (those consisting of only one morpheme) are also roots.



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