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How the English Language is Formed?

Languages are formed when people living in groups begin to find certain behaviors, bodily movements, or gestures as symbols. People in different groups would use different sounds and body movements which would explain some six thousand languages spoken in our world today. We have never found a group of people that have not had a spoken language. Of all languages English language is called international and worldwide spoken language, therefore we must know how the English language is formed, read in the article below about the formation of the English language.

How the English Language is Formed?
How the English Language is Formed?

How the English Language is Formed?

Linguistics: non-count noun: the scientific study of language, especially its form and structure. “The UN interpreter was a specialist in linguistics.”

Linguistic: adjective: of or relating to language or the field of linguistics “I am interested in the linguistic differences between English and Farsi.”;

“The linguistic study involves all forms of language, including codes and pictorial symbols.”

Morphology: non-count noun: the study and description of how words are formed in language. “I learned morphology in my college grammar class.”

Morpheme: noun: linguistics: a word or a part of a word that has a meaning and that contains no smaller part that has a meaning. “Identifying morphemes will help you understand unfamiliar words.”

What is a Morpheme?

Morphemes are what make up words. It is not always true that morphemes are words. Some single morphemes can be words, while other words have two or more morphemes within them. It is also incorrect to think of morphemes as syllables. Many words have two or more syllables but only one morpheme. “Banana”, “apple”, “papaya” and “nanny” are just a few examples. On the other hand, many words have two morphemes and only one syllable; examples include “cats”, “runs,” and “barked”.

The word “pins” contains two morphemes: “pin” and the plural suffix “-s.”

In so-called isolating languages, like Vietnamese, each word contains a single morpheme; in languages such as English, words often contain multiple morphemes.

Types of Morphemes:

  • Free morpheme: a morpheme that can stand alone as a word without another morpheme. It does not need anything attached to it to make a word. “Cat” is a free morpheme.
  • Bound morpheme: a sound or a combination of sounds that cannot stand alone as a word. The “s” in “cats” is a bound morpheme, and it does not have any meaning without the free morpheme “cat”.
  • Inflectional morpheme: this morpheme is always a suffix. The “s” in “cats” is an inflectional morpheme. An inflectional morpheme creates a change in the function of the word. Example: the “d” in “invited” indicates past tense. English has only seven inflectional morphemes:  “-s” (plural) and “-s” (possessive) are noun inflections; “-s” (3rd-person singular), “-ed” (past tense), “-en” (past participle), and “-ing” (present participle) are verb inflections; “-er” (comparative) and “-est” (superlative) are adjective and adverb inflections.
  • Derivational morpheme: this type of morpheme changes the meaning of the word or the part of speech or both. Derivational morphemes often create new words. Example: the prefix and derivational morpheme “un” added to “invited” changes the meaning of the word.
  • Allomorphs: different phonetic forms or variations of a morpheme. Example: The final morphemes in the following words are pronounced differently, but they all indicate plurality: dogs, cats, and horses.
  • Base: a morpheme that gives a word its meaning. The base morpheme “cat” gives the word “cats” its meaning.
  • Affix: a morpheme that comes at the beginning (prefix) or the ending (suffix) of a base morpheme.

Note:An affix usually is a morpheme that cannot stand alone. Examples: “-ful,” “-ly”, “-ity,” “-ness.” A few exceptions, namely “-able,” “-like” and “-less” can also stand alone as words.

  • Prefix: an affix that comes before a base morpheme. “The ‘in’ in the word ‘inspect’ is a prefix.”

Examples of prefixes:

  • Ab-: away from (absent, abnormal)
  • Ad-: to, toward (advance, addition)
  • After-: later, behind (aftermath, afterward)
  • Anti-: against, opposed (antibiotic, antigravity)
  • Auto-: self (automobile, autobiography)
  • Bi-: two (bicycle, biceps)
  • Com, con, co-: with, together (commune, concrete)
  • Contra-: against (contradict, contrary)
  • De-: downward, undo (deflate, defect)
  • Dis-: not (dislike, distrust)
  • Extra-: outside (extravagant, extraterrestrial)
  • Im-: not (impose, imply)
  • In-: (into, not include, incurable)
  • Inter-: among (interact, international)
  • Macro-: large (macroeconomics, macrobiotics)
  • Magni-: great (magnify, magnificent)
  • Mega-: huge (megaphone, megabucks)
  • Micro-: small (microscope, microbe)
  • Mis-: wrongly (mistake, mislead)
  • Non-: not (nonsense, nonviolent)
  • Over-: above, beyond (overflow, overdue)
  • Post-: after (postdate, postmark)
  • Pre-: before, prior to (preheat, prehistoric)
  • Pro-: in favor of (protect, probiotic, pro-survival)
  • Re-: again (repeat, revise)
  • Sub-: under, beneath (submarine, subject)
  • Super-: above, beyond superior (supernatural)
  • Tele-: far (telescope, telephone)

Note: Types of Morphemes By Kirsten Mills University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 1998 edited by Mark Canada, Ph.D.

  • Suffix: an affix that comes after a base morpheme. “The ‘s’ in ‘cats’ is a suffix.”

Examples of suffixes:

  •       –ant: one who (assistant)
  •       –ar: one who (liar)
  •       –arium: place for (aquarium)
  •       –ble: inclined to (gullible)
  •       -ent: one who (resident)
  •       –er: one who (teacher)
  •       -er: more (brighter)
  •       -ery, ry: (products pottery, bakery)
  •       -ess: one who [female] (actress)
  •       -est: most (hottest)
  •       -ful: full of (mouthful)
  •       -ing: [present tense] (smiling)
  •       -less: without (motherless)
  •       -ling: small (fledgling)
  •       -ly: every (weekly)
  •       -ly: (adverb) happily
  •       -ness: state of being (happiness)
  •       -ology: study of (biology)
  •       -ous: full of (wondrous)
  •       -s, es: more than one (boxes)
  •       -y: state of (sunny)

Homonyms: morphemes that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Examples: “bear” (an animal) and “bear” (to carry); “plain” (simple) and “plain” ( a level area of land).

Heteronym: one of two or more words (not necessarily single morphemes) that have identical spellings but different meanings and pronunciations, such as “row” (a series of objects arranged in a line), pronounced (rō), and “row” (a fight), pronounced (rou).

Homophones: morphemes that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. Examples: “bear” / “bare”, “plain” / “plane”, “cite” / “sight” / “site”.

Note: You can find more about Homonyms, Homophones and Heteronyms in here:Homonyms, Homophones and Heteronyms,

Examples of morphemes in Words:

One morpheme:

  • One syllable: boy
  • Two syllables: desire, lady, water
  • Three syllables: crocodile
  • Four syllables: salamander

Two morphemes:

  • Boy + ish
  • Desire + able

Three morphemes:

  • Boy + ish + ness
  • Desire + able + ity

Four morphemes:

  • Gentle + man + li + ness
  • Un + desire + able + ity

More than four morphemes:

  • Un + gentle + man + li + ness
  • Anti + dis + establish + ment + ari + an + ism

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