Introducing Morphology (Cambridge Introductions to Language and Linguistics)

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Unlike other textbooks it anticipates the question 'is it a real word? This second edition has been thoroughly updated, including new examples and exercises as well as a detailed introduction to using linguistic corpora to find and analyze morphological data.

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Review of previous edition: ' Its hands-on approach is well suited to getting undergraduates interested in the subject. Hannahs, Newcastle University Review of previous edition: 'The ideal textbook, pedagogically sound, taking beginning students all the way from the basics to advanced theoretical questions. The 'how-to' sections, the 'challenges' and the end-of-chapter exercises are all designed to encourage students to do morphology for themselves. A lively introduction to morphology how words are put together , this textbook is intended for undergraduates with relatively little background in linguistics.

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Introducing Morphology (Cambridge Introductions to Language and Linguistics)

Add to Basket. Book Description Cambridge UP, Condition: New. Seller Inventory More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Cambridge University Press, New Book. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory FM Language: English. Brand new Book. Seller Inventory AAA Book Description Cambridge University Press , They will not assume that zorch refers to a part of the object, to its color or shape, or to a superordinate category of objects to which it might belong.

See Bloom for an extensive discussion of this subject. In the second experiment above, there are only familiar objects for which subjects already have names. When asked to point out the plitz, experimental subjects typically do one of two things: they might first look around the room for something else that might be called a plitz, or they might assume that the word plitz refers to a part of one of the familiar objects or a special type of one of them. Subjects, in other words, will assume that if an object already has a word for it, the word plitz cannot be synonymous with those words.

These experiments are of course not just hypothetical. Paul Bloom, Susan Carey, and many other psycholinguists have conducted them both with children of various ages and with adults, and have obtained the results described above.

Indeed, there is evidence that English-speaking children as young as to months old are able to create new compound words that is, words like wind mill or dog bed and to turn nouns into verbs, a process which is called conversion see chapter 3. Not too long after this, children will begin to use prefixes and suffixes, both for inflection and lexeme formation.

We know that they have learned the rules when they produce words that are novel and therefore that they could not have learned from the language spoken around them. Rather, it is a complex web composed of stored items morphemes, words, idiomatic phrases that may be related to each other by the sounds that form them and by their meanings.

Along with these stored items we also have rules that allow us to combine morphemes in different ways. Our evidence for this organization comes from experiments using both normal subjects and subjects with some sort of genetic disorder or trauma to the brain. There is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that speakers do not merely learn and store complex words although they may store some complex words which are used frequently , but rather construct complex words using rules of word formation.

We will take as our example the rule for forming past tenses of verbs in English. At this point, if I asked you how to form the past tense of a verb Words, dictionaries, and the mental lexicon in English, you would probably say that you usually add an -ed. We will look first at the regular past tense rule.

While it is true that in writing we add an -ed to form the past tense of a verb, in terms of spoken speech, the situation is a bit more complicated. Consider the next Challenge: Challenge Consider how you pronounce the past tenses of these verbs: 1. We do not choose the pronunciation of the past tense at random. Rather, the choice of which of the three endings to use depends on the final sound of the verb. The words that end in voiceless with the exception of [t] sounds get the [t] pronunciation. And all the rest get the [d] pronunciation. As for irregular forms like sang and flew, we must assume that English speakers simply learn them as exceptions.

We know that speakers of English have an unconscious knowledge of the past tense rule because we can automatically create the past tense of novel verbs. For example, if I coin a verb blick, you know that the past tense morpheme is pronounced [t]. We can even form the past tense of verbs that contain final sounds that do not occur at all in English, and when we do, we still follow the rule.


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For example, if we imagine that there are many composers imitating the style of Johann Sebastian Bach, and we coin the verb to bach to denote the action of imitating Bach, we will automatically form the past tense with the past tense variant pronounced [t], because the final sound of Bach is [x], a voiceless velar fricative.

Now that we know something about the English past tense rule, we can return to the question of how the mental lexicon is organized. In other words, we might assume that once a past tense has been formed, it is entered whole in our mental lexicon, and we retrieve it whole just as we would the present tense form. This hypothesis, however, may not be correct. Badecker and Caramazza describe how we can know this. Some aphasics display agrammatism; this means that they have difficulty in producing or processing function words in sentences, but can still produce and understand content words.

Interestingly, agrammatic aphasics have difficulty producing or processing both regularly inflected forms like the English past tenses , and also productively derived words those with suffixes that we use frequently in making up new words — for example, -less as in shoeless or -ly as in darkly , whereas they have far less trouble with irregular forms like sang and flew. Other aphasics display jargon aphasia; these aphasics produce fluent sentences using function words, but have trouble producing and understanding content words.

Instead, they have a tendency to produce nonsense words. Interestingly, jargon aphasics will use regular inflections appropriately on their nonsense words, but they have difficulty processing and producing irregular forms. We can explain the differential behavior of agrammatical and jargon aphasics if we postulate that we have rules for producing regularly inflected and productively derived forms, and only store irregular forms, and that rules and stored items are located in different parts of the brain.

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For agrammatic aphasics, the rule is unavailable, presumably because the part of the brain has been damaged that apparently allows us to apply morphological rules, but the irregular forms are still accessible from an undamaged part of the brain. For jargon aphasics, the irregular forms have been lost because the part of the brain that apparently allows access to stored forms has been damaged, but the regular rule is still intact.

PET scans measure the level of blood flow to different parts of the brain, which in turn shows us areas of activation in those parts. Jaeger et al. Individuals with SLI are generally of normal intelligence and have no hearing impairment. But they are slow to produce and understand language, and their speech is characterized by the omission of various inflectional morphemes. Individuals with Williams Syndrome have a genetic disorder linked to various heart problems, elevated levels of calcium in their blood, and a characteristic appearance short stature, an upturned nose, a long neck, among other things.

Their language and social skills are in the normal range, but in other respects such as motor control and spatial perception they display mild or moderate developmental delay. What is significant for our purposes is that these disorders provide more evidence for the organization of our mental lexicon. Individuals with SLI find it difficult to create the past tenses of novel verbs, and often fail to inflect unfamiliar regular verbs correctly; they have less difficulty with irregular verbs, though.

In spontaneous speech, they may leave the regular past tense off verbs Redmond and Rice In contrast, individuals with Williams Syndrome speak fluently and produce sentences with correct regular past tenses, but have more trouble with irregular ones; indeed they seem to use regular past tense marking even where control subjects or individuals with SLI would not, for example, overgeneralizing the regular -ed ending on irregular verbs for example, falled Clahsen, Ring, and Temple Assuming that the genetic anomalies associated with these disorders affect different parts of the brain, we can explain this pattern of behavior.

Most morphologists would say that xyz is a word if it can be formed by the rules of word formation in a particular language. They are words because they follow the rules of English word formation. It is the rules of word formation that we know that most distinguish our mental lexicon from the dictionary. The dictionary does not need to list all the words that we know or that we could create, because once we know word formation rules we can produce and understand potentially infinite numbers of new words from the morphemes available to us. The remainder of this book will be an attempt to work out in some detail what those rules are.

Look at the next Challenge. Challenge Suppose that a great catastrophe has occurred and every single written or on-line dictionary has disappeared from the face of the earth. You and your classmates have survived the catastrophe perhaps in a hidden concrete tunnel beneath the building in which you are now sitting , and have been delegated the task by other survivors of creating the first post-catastrophe dictionary of your language. How would you start?

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Your first instinct would probably be to make a list of words that you would need to define. Assuming that there were no surviving books to use as dictionary-fodder, a good way to begin would be by thinking of categories, and listing everything you could in each one. Second, you and your classmates would get into constant arguments over this word or that: is it worth putting the word mullet in the dictionary as the name of a hairstyle? Does slang go in the dictionary? What IS slang, anyway? What about really raunchy words?

What this thought experiment does is to put you in the shoes of a lexicographer.