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Main notions of Grammar. The morpheme.
Morpheme– the smallest meaningful part of a word.
Morphemes can be classified differently.
a) Analyzing the morphemes table- and -s we immediately see that table' is directly associated with a certain object in reality, though -s is not. It adds the meaning of plurality to the part expressed by table-, as well as it does combined with any other part of the table- type. Table- expresses the material part of meaning, -s expresses the specific (grammatico-semantic) meaning. So, they differ in their relations to reality.(function)
b) There can be free and bound morphemes according to their relations to the word they are part of. Table- is more independent than -s. A morpheme like this, which can function alone is called free. A bound morpheme is detached to other morphemes and cannot function independently.
c) According to their fundamental meaning we classify morphemes in the following way: lexical, lexico-grammatical and grammatical morphemes.
A word has at least one lexical morpheme that is regarded as the root of the word. Roots are most numerous in English. All the other bound morphemes are affixes. Affixes fall into several types according to their position relative to the stem – the form to which an affix is added. So, a prefix is an affix attached to the front of its stem, suffix is an affix attached to its end.
Grammatical morphemes can be called functional as they create new forms. English is not a highly inflected language, it has only eight functional endings: the plural ending -s, the possessive ending -'s, the third person singular presents inflexion -s, the progressive form ending -ing, the past tense inflexion -ed, past participle ending -en or -ed, the comparative suffix -er and the superlative suffix -est.
Lexico-grammatical morphemes constitute a special derivational type of morphemes that create new words. In English prefixes are always derivational. Morphemes like de- (to depart), for- (to forgive), er- (reader), -less (helpless), -ful (helpful) belong to the latter type as they determine the lexical meaning of words like lexical morphemes and resemble grammatical morphemes in their dependence on lexical morphemes, but unlike grammatical morphemes they are not relative.
Morphs are material expressions of morphemes.Allomorphs are the positional variants of morphemes.
Morphemic distribution (co-occurrence with other morphs) can be of three types:
1) contrastive – when the position of morphs is the same, but their meanings are different.
e. g. works – working
2) non-contrastive – when the position of morphs is the same as well as their meaning. Morphs contrasted in such a way are free variants of the morpheme.
e. g. learned – learnt
3) complementary – when the positions of morphs are different but their meaning is the same.
e. g. working – teaching
Complementary distribution helps establish the identity of outwardly different elements of language.