Generative Morphology

July 27, 2017 | Author: Fida Cliquers | Category: Morphology (Linguistics), Word, Linguistics, Grammar, Morphology
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Morphology is the field within linguistics that studies the internal structure of words. (Words as units in the lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules. For example, English speakers recognize that the words dog, dogs, and dog-catcher are closely related. English speakers recognize these relations from their tacit knowledge of the rules of word-formation in English. They intuit that dog is to dogs as cat is to cats; similarly, dog is to dog-catcher as dish is to dishwasher. The rules understood by the speaker reflect specific patterns (or regularities) in the way words are formed from smaller units and how those smaller units interact in speech. In this way, morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word-formation within and across languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.


The term 'morphology' has been taken over from biology where it is used to denote the study of the forms of plants and animals. It was first used for linguistic purposes in 1859 by the German linguist August Schleicher (Salmon 2000), to refer to the study of the form of words. In present-day linguistics, the term 'morphology' refers to the study of the internal structure of words, and of the systematic form-meaning correspondences between words.

“The notion 'systematic' in the definition of morphology

given above is important. For instance, we might observe a form difference and a corresponding meaning difference between the English noun ear and the verb hear. However, this pattern is not systematic: there are no similar word pairs, and we cannot form new English verbs by adding h- to a noun." In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of morphemes and other units of meaning in a language such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context. (words in a lexicon are the subject






represents a way of classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a language —from the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the agglutinative ("stuck-


together") and fusional languages that use bound morphemes (affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress lots of separate morphemes into single words.


A. Generative Morphology The Principles of Generative Morphology

1. According








assumptions underlying generative transformational grammar in general and generative morphology in particular can stated as follows : First,







competence. Chomsky distinguishes between competence and performance. Competence is the native speaker’s knowledge of his


language, while performance is the real language use by native speaker in real situations. Generative transformational grammar starts from competence, not from performance. In this connection, Chomsky states that linguistic theory is metalistic, because this theory attempts to find out the mental reality underlying real behavior. Furthermore, it is stated that linguistics is the study of competence. The real object of linguistic study is the homogeneous speech community in which all people use the same language and study that language properly. The linguistic data are not the utterance of the individual that must be studied, but his intuition of his language, particularly his judgment on what sentence are grammatical and what sentences are ungrammatical and his judgment on the interrelationship of sentence, which means what sentences have the same meaning. The theory of language should be formed to explain this intuition. Second, language has creative innovative characteristic. The creativity of language is meant the ability of the native speaker to generate new sentences, that is, sentences that have no similarities with usual sentences. The native speaker has the capability of


generating and understanding new sentences or he has the capability of making judgments of their grammaticality. Third, generative transformational grammar is the set of rules that gives structural description to the sentence. The aims of the linguist who attempts to explain the creative aspect of grammatical competence are to formulate a set of sentence formation rules (syntactic rules), sentence interpretation rules (semantic rules) and pronunciation rules (phonological rules). Thus studying a language means studying a set of syntactic rules, semantic rule, and phonological rules. Fourth, language is the mirror of mind. Chomsky (1972:103) atates that there is a number of questions that cause someone to study language. By studying language in detail, we will know the inherent features of human mind. In other words, we can achieve better understanding on how human mind produces and processes language. Akmajian et. Al, (1984:5-7) complete the basic assumtions of generative transformational grammar as follows : First, human language in all levels in governed by rules. Every language that we know has syntactic rules governing pronunciation, word formation, and grammatical constructions.


What is meant by rules here are descriptive rule, namely, rules that describe real language of certain groups of speakers. The descriptive rules actually express the generalization and regularity of various aspects of language. Second, various human language from unified phenomena. The linguist assume that it is possible to study human language in general and certain languages to express universal language features. From the point of view of surface structure, human languages are very different from each other, but from the point of view of deep structure, those languages have universal features. Next, the assumtions underlying generative morphology are stated as follows: First, generative morphology is an integral part of the syntactic component. In standard generative transformational grammar, morphology is not an autonomous component, but a part of syntactic component. Second, morphology analysis is carried out in two levels, namely, the level of deep structure and the level of surface structure. Based on this assumption, we first trace the deep structure







construction. Then we see the process that occur to that underlying representation in order to be able to determine its derived or surface structure.


Basic Concepts of Generative Morphology

a. Competence and Performance Crystal (1980:73) states that competence is a term used in linguistics, particularly generative transformational grammar, to refer to someone’s knowledge of his language, that is, the system of rules which he has mastered, so that he is able to generate and understand an infinite number of sentences, and to recognize grammatical mistakes and ambiguities. According to Bechert (1976:18), competence covers the following abilities: 1. The ability to generate and understand the infinite number of sentences. 2. The ability to determine whether an utterance or expression belongs to the language concerned. 3. The ability to give meanings to utterance or expression belonging to a certain language.


4. The ability to determine the level of derivation from those utterances. 5. The ability to determine the different kinds of derivation. 6. The ability to determine the identities of the expression concerning their membership on one utterance. 7. The ability

to give judgments concerning the formal

similarities among various utterances. 8. The ability to determine the similarities of meaning of those utterances. 9. The ability to determine the variability of meaning of an utterance. b. Deep Structure and Surface Structure Crystal (1980:102) states that deep structure is a theoretical term central in generative transformational grammar, contrasted with surface structure. Deep structure is an abstract syntactical representation of a sentence, that is, a basic level of structural organization explaining all factors that govern the way how sentences should be interpreted. Furthermore, Crystal (1980:341) states that the surface structure of a sentence is the final stage in the syntactical representation










phonological component, which is very in accord with the structure of sentence which we articulate or hear. 3.








Organization There are two models of generative used in the word of linguistic, namely: a. Halle’s Model and its organization Hale’s Model consist of four component : 1) List of morpheme According to Halle, the basic unit of lexicon are morpheme. Every morpheme is indicated as a sequence of phonological segments and it is put between labeled brackets. The representation by nouns, verb and affixes for example: a) [home]N b) [discuss]v c) [-ty]Suf 2) Word formation rules


There are two kinds of Word Formulation Rules namely, (1) Word Formulation Rules which apply to stems and form the linear sequence “ stem + one or more morpheme” with or without the internal structure, and (2) Word formulation rules which apply to words. Example: (i) [STEM + I + ty]N [STEM + an]Adj

(ii) [verb] + a] N [Adjective + (i) +

(Ty)]N [STEM + al]N


[be + STEM]N

[NOUN + ish]Adj

The two kinds of word formulation rules above generate two kinds of derived words, as can be seen in the following example: (i) Srendip + i + ty Vac + ant Tot + al Be + lieve

(ii) arrive + al obes + ity dark + en child + ish


All word formulation rules perform a number of tasks, and have the following features: a) Word formulation Rules specify sequences in which morphemes must be arranged to form words of language. b) Word formulation rules specify (i) the syntactic category of the base, example: Noun, Verb, (ii) the syntactic category of the output. Example: noun, Verb), (iii) the internal boundary in the output example: “+” and (iv) regular semantic information c) Word formation rules specify the semantic and syntactic features of the derived words that are not in accord with the features of the base. d) Word formation rules operate in the same way as derivational morphology and inflectional morphology. e) Word


phonological rules.







f) Since word formulation rules that create new words, then they also function to analysis the existing words.

3) Filter The filter component is a mechanism tat handles the idiosyncrasies occurring in a language. Not all words can be derived by word formulation rules. Word formulation rules can form words that are phonologically, syntactically, and semantically, but not occur in surface structure. The filter functions to mark such formation wit the features [LI], that means that those formation cannot enter the dictionary. 4) Dictionary The words that have gone the filter form the dictionary of a given








morphological model. The dictionary covers either regular formation that have not been modified by the filter by



or deleting certain features, or idiosyncratic

formation have been modified in certain ways by filter. b. Arronof’s Model 1) Criticism on Halle’s Model Scalise (1984: 34) state that the researches carried out later shows a number of problems concerning generative morphology of Halle’s model. The problems are related to every subcomponent of this model, namely the list of morpheme, word formulation rules, filter and dictionary. 2) The component of Arronof’s Model a) Word- based Hypothesis i) The bases of the word formulation rules are word ii) These words are the existing words. Thus possible but non existent iii) The word formulation rules can take single words as bases, not more like phrases and less like bound morpheme


iv) The input and output of the major the WFR must be the members of the major lexical categories. b) Word formulation rules The word formulation rule is a specific mechanism that create new words in a language that lies wholly in lexicon. Example : [W]x

[[W]x + AF] y “

semantic of Y” The formulated : [read]v

[[read]v + able]A “

capable of being read” c) Readjustment rules According to Arronoff the readjustment rules are the rules that are limited to special morphemes and occur only in the environment of those special morphemes. And Arronoff divides into two part, namely: i) Truncation rules The general form of truncation rule is as follows: [[root + A]x +B]v 1







ii) Allomorphy rules Allomorphy







morphemes or formatives to the roots or bases when suffixes are added. The formulated [[root]x + Suf]y 1


1+Formative 2 In which X represents a lexical category of the root and Y represent takes a morpheme of formative when









4. The Analysis of Generative Morphology All identified morphemes are classified into two main groups, namely: a. Free morphemes


Free morphemes are morphemes that can stand alone as word. Free morphemes consist of class or content words, like: 1) Class or content words: Nouns

: fish, sea, house, shirt, drug, king ……………


: hit, go, cut, come, see, show, like ……………


: handsome, beautiful, cleaver, clean

………. Adverb : here, there, now, yesterday, tomorrow …… 2) Function words: Determiners (Det)

: the, a(n), one, two, many, some, my

……….. Auxiliaries (Aux)

: be, am, is, are, do, does, did, can,

may …….. Intensifiers (Int)

: very, rather, somewhat, so, too

……………….. Question words (QW) : who(m), what, where, when, why, how …..


b. Bound morphemes Bound morphemes are morpheme that cannot stand alone. Can be further divided into: Prefixes: a-, auto-, dis-, en-, for-, in-, inter-, mis-, re-, un-, ………….. Suffixes : -ion, -ty, -ment, -ness, -er, -ate, -en, -fy, -ize, -able, -al …….

The analysis of generative morphology divided into two, namely: a. The Analysis of Generative Morphology of Halle’s Model 1) List of morphemes All morphemes, either free morphemes or bound morphemes are listed in the list of morphemes by using labeled bracketing. Example a) Free morphemes [decorate]v


[active]adj [electric]adj b) Bound morphemes [-ion]suf [-ty]suf 2) Word formation After all morphemes are listed in the list of morphemes is to formulate a set of Word formation Rules (WFR). And tan every rule must be accompanied by its meaning or semantics. Word formation rules (WFR) Name


Noun Formation Rules


Verb Formation Rules


Adjective Formation Rules


Adverb Formation Rules


In English, nouns, for example, can be formed with the following rules:


(NFR-1) [[X]v + [-ion]suf]N Semantics: ‘the act of X-ing This rule states that some English nouns can be formed by adding the suffix- ion to the base consisting of verbs with the meaning the act of X- ing. (NFR-2) [[X]adj + [-ty]suf]N Semantics: ‘the state of being X’ This rule state that some nouns in English can be formed by adding the suffix-ty to the base with the meaning ‘the state of being X’. The application of (NFR-1) and (NFR-2) generate the following underlying representations: *[#[decorate] + [-ion]#] *[#[educate] + [-ion]#] *[#[nominate] + [-ion]#] *[#[active] + [-ty]#] *[#[electric] + [-ty]#] All of the above underlying representations are ungrammatical or unacceptable, so they cannot enter the dictionary. 3) Filter


The filter is the mechanism that can change unacceptable underlying representations into acceptable one. To be acceptable, they must go through phonological processes, namely, two assimilations and one syllable structure process. The phonological rule for these three phonological processes can be formulated as follows: (PR-1) C

C -sonorant +high -anterior

-sonorant +anterior

+strident _voice



/ ……. …

+ [-ion]


+ Syllabic Ø



- back

This rule state that the high vowel phoneme /i/ is inserted at the end of the base when the suffix –ty is added to te base.




+consonantal + high +syllabic + back +high -voice back +continual -Delrel



-anterior +coronal -voice

/ …..




4) Dictionary All words have been formed through Word Formation Rule (WFR) and have gone through the filter are listed in the dictionary. In the dictionary, all words are accompanied their meanings and their semantic feature. b. The Analysis of Generative Morphology of Aronoff’s Model 1) Dictionary In the formation, the steps must be taken is to list sets of words used as bases of Word Formation Rule (WFR) in the dictionary as the first of Aronoff’s Model. Example : a) [active]Adj b) [decorate]v


c) [educate]v d) [electric] Adj e) [examine]v f) [nominate]v 2) Word Formation Rule a) The Rule for the formation of English Noun with the suffix –ion (NFR-1) [X]v

[[X]v + [-ion]suf ]N

Semantics: ‘the act or result of X-ing’ b) The Rule for the formation of English Noun with the suffix –ty (NFR-2) [X] Adj

[[X] Adj + [-ty]suf ]N

Semantic: ‘the state of being X’ 3) Underlying Representation The application of (NFR-1) and (NFR-2) can generate the following underlying representations: (a) *[#[active /æktive/]Adj + [-ty]suf#]N


(b)*[#[decorate /dekеreit/]v + [-ion]suf#]N (c) *[#[educate/ejucate/]v + [-ion]suf#]N (d)*[#[electric/ilektrik/]Adj + [-ty]suf#]N (e) *[#[examine/igzæmin/]v + [-ion]suf#]N (f) *[#[nominate/nomineit/]v + [-ion] suf]N All is underlying representation are ungrammatical or unacceptable. The underlying representation (a), (b), (c), (d), and (f) are phonologically unacceptable, while the underlying representation (e) is morphologically and phonologically unacceptable. 4) Phonological Rule The phonologically unacceptable underlying representations must go through certain phonological process. The following underlying representation: *[#[active/æktive/]Adj + [-ty]suf#]N To be acceptable must go trough one phonologically process. The syllable structure process in which the high


vowel phoneme /i/ is inserted at the end of the base when the suffix –ty is added to it. The process of derivation can be described in the following: UR

: *[#[active/æktive/]Adj + [-ty]suf#]N

(PR-2) insertion of /i/ : [#[æktiv +i/] adj + [-ty]suf#]N Output

: [activity/æktivity/]

5) Readjustment Rule The morphologically unacceptable underlying representation must go through the readjustment process. *[#[examine/igzæmin/]v + [-ion] suf#]N The rule for this readjustment process can be formulated as follows: (RR-1) *[[base]v + [-ion]suf]N 1


1+at 2 This rule states the formative –at is inserted at the end of the base when the suffix –ion is added to it. 6) Surface Representation


By applying (RR-1), the following unacceptable surface representation can be generated: *[#[examine + at /igzæmineit/]v + [-ion]suf#]N Because this surface representation is phonologically unacceptable, so it must go through a phonologically process. The process of derivation can be described as follows: SR (PR-1) /t/ Output

: *[#[/igzæmineit/]v + [-ion]suf#]N /š/: [#[/igzæmineiš/]v + [-ion] suf#]N : [examination/igzæmineišen/]



A. Conclusion Generative morphology is an integral part of the syntactic component. Morphology is not an autonomous component, but a part of the syntactic component. Nerveless, there have been efforts of making morphological component as autonomous component, called Word Formation Rule (WFR).

Beside that morphological

analysis is carried out in two levels namely the level of deep structure









morphology we know two model to analysis morphological manely, Hale’s model and Arronoff’s model.

B. Suggestion


Based on the explanation of this paper, we hope that all of the audience can get the point and more understand about generative morphology furthermore it can be applied in our daily life especially in learning morphology.


Ba’dulu, Abdul M. 2010. Morphosyntax. Makassar: Badan Penerbit universitas Negeri Makassar. Wikipedia. Morphology (linguistics). (Downloaded on 27th September 2011)

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