The Real Language: The Concept of Morphology

Mohamed Osman Khatir

The concept of morphology generally refers to the study of form or forms of something, this can be found in three different fields which are biology, geology and linguistics. According to Francis Katamba (1993) in his book English morphology the term has been borrowed from biological contexts by students of linguistics. Its origin is Greek which means ‘shape or form’ and–ology means the study of something. Aronoff and Fudeman( 2011,p.2) stated that it is first coined or invented by the German poet, playwright, novelist and philosopher Johann wolfang Von Goethe(1749-1832) in early nineteenth century in biological contexts. Now it is being used in these three fields, In biology it refers to the study of the structure and organisms of living things, in geology it refers the study of the Earth configuration and land evolution and in linguistics, which is the scientific study of a language, morphology refers to the study of word formation, their internal structure and their relations in the same language, or the branch of linguistics that deals with the study of word formation and how words are put together to make different forms. The term morphology also defined in “The study of structure of words and how words are formed.”According to Aronoff and Fudeman (2011,p.1) “The branch of linguistics that deals with word formation, internal structure and their relations in the same language.”
If you look at every single word, it is not free of morphology. The study of word formation is like building a high rise building, which needs a good grounding in order to stand on it. In fact, it is the same for any linguist or language learner, they have to think about a good grounding for their knowledge, which is morphology. Word formation has to do with all branches of linguistics. It is a major level of linguistic analysis and plays an important role in producing and building thousands of new words with different forms, meanings and structure. On the other hand English derives a huge number of words from the major languages of the world which are used on daily basis and morphology gives us an idea about the source of the words with rules and regulations on how to form new words. Studying any of the branches of linguistics is part of studying morphology For example, studying the sound system which is phonology, studying how words are produced which is phonetics or rules of words which is grammar, because all of these can be done according to the different forms a word can have or lexemes which are morphological processes. Studying English is not simply reading words and sentences, but it is really how words are formed in a language and it is a must because, it breaks down words into parts.
Since morphology is the study of language and language is made up of words and words are made up of morphemes these terms should be outlined in details.
Language has been defined as ‘A method of human communication by using spoken or written words.’
According to:
Oxford Advanced Lerner’s Dictionary defines it as (The system of communication in speech and writing that’s used by people of a particular country or area.”
1-1The origins of language
Many argues and points of views have been said about the origins of language, the main point is the (divine source) which the God’s gift to the mankind. The linguist George Yule has argued his famous book – The Study of Language- “ The basic idea of the theory is that, if infants were allowed to grow up without hearing any language, then they would spontaneously begin using the original God-given language.”
www.Wikitionary online dictionary “A body of words, and sets of methods of combining them (called a grammar), understood by a community and used as a form of communication.”
1.2 The importance of language:
Language is at the heart of human life, without it most of our daily activities are inconceivable, there are so many things we want to tell the world, some of them are important and some are not, but anyway we talk. A life without words is really horrendous privation. It will not take a long time to stop for a while and think about how important is a language, think about what is going on now around you or even around the world, think about commercial deals, doctor- patient interactions, newspapers, what is written or being written now or what has taught or being taught now at schools universities etc..
1.3language functions
There are a number of the interpersonal functions for a language, this refers to the grammatical choices that enable speakers to enact in their complex and diverse relations, for example:
a- informative function: language serves as an informative function when it used to tell what the speaker believes, to give information about facts or to reason things out. This can be done by declarative sentences. i.e. not interrogative sentences.
b- Interrogative function: when language is used to get information from others, it serves an interrogative function..
c- Directive function: when language is used to get the hearer do something, then it serves as directive function.
d- Emotive function: when language is used to create certain feelings in the hearer.
e- Directive function: when language is used to get the hearer do something, it serves as directive function. As in the most imperative sentences. Language is really a vast subject.
1.4 Spoken and written language
1.4.1 Spoken language or sometimes called ‘oral language’ is language produced in its spontaneous form and is being used as opposed to a written language Spoken language is a major method of communication for people. Many languages have no written form, and so are only spoken. It’s been said in an online website “Spoken language contains many interesting features that are unique to this form of discourse that allow to convey meaning that goes words.”
1.4.2 A written language is defined as ‘The representation of a spoken gestural language by means of a writing system.’ It is any communication involves any type of message that makes use of the written word and it is the most important and effective of any mode of business communication. Writing is a medium of human communication that represents language and emotion with signs and symbols. It is the invention the must be taught to the children or true beginners of a language. Some people say, writing is not a language, but a tool used to make languages be read.
Everyone has an idea about what the word is. But if you ask them to define it, many of them should be surprised or puzzled! It word has been defined as in Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary “As a single unit of language which means something and be written or spoken.”-so you could say to somebody whom you want to stop talking, (don’t say a word), or you could say to them ( please, could write a word here).
2.1 types of words
There are two types of words in English, open class words and 2.1.1closed class words.
Open class words are nouns, full verb (not auxiliary verbs), adverbs and adjectives in other words they remain open to additions, large in number and extended. Words in open category usually divided into simple and complex. Simple words are words that have just one morpheme (house, sit, slow or green), whereas complex words contain more than (houses, sitting, slowly and greenest)
2.1.2Closed class words
On the other hand closed words refer to the category of function words which are belonging to the grammatical classes (parts of speech) and they are pronouns, determiners, conjunctions and prepositions.for example, ( they, the, a, this, these, at and in), or consider the following noun phrase. The man and the woman. Words of this category don’t accept prefixes or affixes. These words are limit in number contrasting to open class words.
There are two types of morphology which are inflectional and derivational morphology. They are bound morphemes which are attached to words’ beginnings and endings to form several lexemes with new meanings and play an important role not only in orthographic shape but also in constructing and forming a meaningful text. The most noticeable difference between inflectional and derivational morphology is that inflectional morphemes never change the grammatical category (part of speech) and they always come at the end of the words. For instance, tall and taller are both adjectives and a verb like (write,) in the following sentences -I always write a letter, she writes a letter, I am writing a letter, I wrote a letter, and I have written a letter. All these inflectional suffixes have never changed the grammatical category of the words and they seal off the words’ endings. Whereas derivational morphemes always change the word category or (part of speech) take for example, a verb like (employ)could be changed to a noun (employer, employee, employment) or adjective (employable) these words have changed the word grammatical category. In the following section both inflectional and derivational morphemes should be outlined in details.
2.3.1 Inflectional morphology
Inflectional morphology is the study of the processes such as affixation and vowel change(in nouns and verbs or the sort of morphology that expresses grammatical distinction. e.g. man -men- go -went) that distinguishes the forms of words in certain grammatical categories or inflectional morphemes which are suffixes that could be added to a word to assign a particular property to that word. These grammatical morphemes serve as grammatical markers that indicate tense, number, gender, etc….
Inflectional morphology has been defined as in :
Oxford advanced Learner’s Dictionary Inflectional morphology is” a change in the form of a word, especially the endings according its grammatical function in a sentence.”
+Rochelle Lieber (2009,p.88) defines it as ” inflection refers to word formation that does not change category and does not change new lexemes, but rather changes the form of lexemes so they fit into different grammatical contexts.”
Khalil, A. (1999,p.32) defines morphology “English is divided into two major fields: inflectional and derivational morphology the former is concerned with inflectional categories that reflect grammatical processes .”
wikipedia website “In grammar, inflectional morphology is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person number, gender, and mood.
Unlike other languages, it has been stated by linguists and books that, inflectional morphology has a minor role in English. it has only eight inflectional suffixes, which can be added to the word roots or stems, and as mentioned previously, they have two characteristics in common. First, they never change the grammatical category to the words which they are attached to. For example the word ” tree” and ” trees” both are nouns. Second, they always come final in the words, that is, they always seal off the word, if a word has both derivational and inflectional suffix, the latter follows the former, e.g. judge-ment-s.
Unlike other languages, English language has only eight inflectional suffixes which play a minor role and considered less and non-productive in contrast to derivational morphemes which can produce uncountable number of new words.
Here are some examples of the inflectional suffixes.
a-s/-es 3rd person present simple tense of the verb, .e.g. work-s, go-es, and judge-s. e.g. she works for a bank. It goes slowly. He judges the criminal.
b-(e)d past tense of the verb. E.g. jump-ed, hear-d, paint-ed. I jumped over the wall. We heard someone reciting Quraan. You painted a nice picture.
c- (e)d past participle of the walk-ed, hunt-ed, call-ed. Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. They hunted a lion. He called me yesterday.
d—ing present participle of the verb. E.g. writing. I am writing a research paper.
e- -s/-es plural marker of the nouns. E.g. cat-s, dog-s, church-es./ Cats and dogs are one family. Churches are places of worship for christians.
All of the above five suffixes have three different allomorphs. E.g. cats/s/, dogs /z/, and churches /iz/.
F- -S genitive (possessive) case, Adam’s, woman’s, lion’s, teacher’s. Adam’s apple. Woman’s bracelet. Lion’s mane. Teacher’s book.
G-er comparative form of the adjective. E.g. quicker, taller.I am quicker and taller than my brother.
H-est comparative form of adjective. E.g. the highest. Khalifa tower is the highest building in world. For the adjectives that have more than one syllable we use – more – to form comparative adjective and –most- to form superlative adjective. E.g. more beautiful and the most beautiful. And these types of inflectional suffixes have grammatical meaning and differences according to:
a- Number
Number and also called -grammatical number- is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives or form of a word, showing whether one or more than one person or thing is talked about. In other words, the subject of a sentence and its verb must agree in number.
Also it is a word, phrase, or the state of being singular, dual, or plural shown by inflection and adjectives and nouns should agree in gender, number, and case.
According to:
1- “In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, verb agreement, and adjectives that express count distinctions.”
perhaps the most familiar inflectional category for English language speakers and writers is number. That’s nouns,pronouns,verbs, and adjectives can be marked as singular or plural. Subject verb agreement simply means must agree in number. This means both need to be singular or plural.
Most English nouns are pluralized by adding -S or- ES to a singular noun.e.g. cat- cats – cow- cows – girl- girls- country- countries –wife- wives- leaf –leaves, but some English nouns can form their plurals irregularly’. E.g. man-men –woman-women-ox-oxen –child-children- deer- deer.
2-as in English Erudite .com website: “An adjective of number is an adjective that shows the exact number of persons or things denoted by a noun or pronoun. Adjectives of number are the adjectives that are used to depict either the number of nouns or their position or place in a certain order.”
www.Youtube. Com “ In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinction.”
For example:
There are ten students in the classroom (number)
I stood first in class. (place).
Friday is the last day of the week (order)
The brilliant one of you can be the leader of the group (position)
3-As in the website of: www.twoson. com “ Subject verb agreement simply means the subject and verb must agree in number” This means both need to be singular or both need to be plural.
My brother loves playing football.(both my brother and loves are singular).
We are human and well-equipped to learn the languages. ( both we and are, are plural)
I am a teacher and teaching the language for ages. (both I and am are singular).
He offers me a great opportunity to be a language learner. (both she and offers are singular).
She is a real supervisor. ( both she and is are singular)
They are suffering of how to get bread. (Both they and are are plural).
You are Sudanese, no wonder you are generous. (there is an agreement between both verb and subject, regardless you and are singular or plural).
It is my destiny to face all these difficulties throughout my life. Both it and is are plural)
b- Person
In grammar, person refers to: first, second, and third person and is used to denote any of the three classes of personal pronouns.
speakers and writers of English always inflect verbs according to the subject of the verb. when we talk about ourselves, our opinions, and things that happen to us, we generally speak in the first person.
According to:
Oxford online Dictionary of English “A category used in the classification of pronouns, possessive determiners, and verb forms, according to whether they indicate the speaker ( first person ), the addressee (second person), or third party ( third person).”
Wikipedia encyclopedia “ In grammar, a person is the way of referring to someone taking part in an event, such as the person talking, the person taking to, the person being talked about.”
The following sentences are examples for (person).
First person ( I-me –my-mine-myself) I am happy. It makes me sad. My research paper is about to finish. This book is mine. I will do it myself.
( we – our –us- ours- ourselves) we are friends. Our country is suffering. You will be visiting us. These pens are ours. We have to do it ourselves.
Second person ( you-you –your- yours- yourself/yourselves ) You are writing.
I like you. It is your own opinion. This mobile is yours. you must upgrade yourself/yourselves.
Third person ( HE- SHE- IT-they ). He- she- it is writing. They are writing.
In English, gender refers to a system of grammatical categorization, whereby every noun treated as either masculine, feminine or neuter.
Oxford Research Encyclopedias has defined (gender) as “ Gender is a grammatical feature, in a family with person, number, and case.” It has been said and maintained in many researches and by many linguists that: The word gender is with biological and social differences between men and women. In addition, many of the world languages have masculine and feminine words.
And as in : “ English had a system of grammatical gender similar to that modern German, with three genders: masculine, feminine, neuter. Determiners and attributive adjectives showed gender inflection in agreement with the noun they modified.”
Here are some examples for these three genders.
Masculine feminine Neuter
man woman person
father mother parent
boy girl child
Uncle aunt
husband wife spouse
actor actress
waiter waitress server
rooster hen chicken
Martha is my friend. She is a female doctor. Adam is my cousin. He is a doctor. Ahmed is a student. He is student. Fatima is my cousin. She is a student.
It is possible to the distinction for these neutral words by adding the words ( Male-female). Mona is a female doctor . I have three cousins and two male cousins. Infrequently, nouns describing things without a gender are referred to with a gendered pronouns to show familiarity. It is also correct to use gender-neutral pronoun( it). E.g. I love my car. She (the car) is my great passion. France is popular with her (France’s) neighbours at the moment. I travelled from Port Sudan to Jeddah on the ship Nyala. She ( the ship Nyala) is great ship.
D- voice
In English the voice is used to describe the form of the verb that shows whether the subject of a sentence performs the action ( the active voice) or is affected by it ( the passive voice) Or it is a particular mode of inflecting or conjugating verbs, or particular form of a verb, by means of which indicated the relation of the subject of the verb to the action which the verb expresses.
Sentences written in active voice are easier to understand than sentences written in the passive voice. Switching the passive voice into the active voice is straightforward, but it requires a bit of practice. Here are some examples written in both active and passive voice.
There are two basic rules for converting sentences from active to passive voice, which are common for all tenses. The places and of subject and object will be interchanged in the sentence and only past participle will be used in the passive voice.
E.g. write- written :-
Simple tense
He writes a letter.
A letter is written by him.
He does not write a letter.
A letter is not written by him.
Does he write a letter ?
Is a letter written by him?
Progressive tense
She is singing a song.
A Song is being sung by her.
She is not singing a song.
A song is not being sung by her.
Is she singing a song?
Is a song sung by her?
Present perfect tense
They have completed the work.
The work has completed by them.
They have not completed the work.
The work has completed by them.
Have they completed the work ?
Has the work completed by them?
Past simple tense
I bought a car.
A car was bought by me.
I didn’t buy a car.
A car wasn’t bought by me.
Did I buy a car?
Was a car bought by me?
Past progressive tense
You were washing a shirt.
A shirt was being washed by you.
You weren’t washing a shirt.
A shirt was not being washed by you.
Were you washing a shirt?
Was the shirt being washed by you?
Future simple tense
We will write a poem.
A poem will be written by us.
We will not write a poem.
A poet will not be written us.
We will not write a poem .
A letter will not a poem.
Future perfect tense
you will have receive the letter.
The will have been received by you.You
will not have received the letter.
The letter will not have received by
you.Will you have received the letter?
Will the letter have been received by you?
There are some types of sentences which can’t be converted into passive voice.
The sentences of the following tenses which are known as ( non-convertible sentences) cannot be converted into passive voice:
1- Present perfect continuous(or progressive)tense.
2- Past perfect continuous( or progressive)tense.
3- Future perfect continuous(or progressive)tense.
4- Future continuous(or progressive)tense.
5- Sentences having intransitive verbs.
In addition to these sentences, sentences having transitive verbs cannot be changed into passive voice. A verb that does not require an object in the sentence and can give a complete meaning (without an object), is called intransitive verb.
e.g. He laughs.
” laugh” is intransitive verb. It doesn’t require an object in sentence. Even without an object in sentence, it can express a complete idea. According to www.Study and “Go, sleep, sit, reach, die” are few examples of the intransitive verbs

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