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Lecture Summary (12/05/2006)

The topic of this session was called "Types of lexical information: morphology (inflection and word formation)".

As an introduction to the field of word formation we asked ourselves why and by whom it is used. It is an essential aspect of any language because new concepts, ideas or technical devices require new words. It also happens that new words are invented on the spot. Consequently word formation is of importance to scientists, engineers, product branding companies (for the purpose of illustration we looked at the website of nomen) and poets. But off course it is also a part of everybody's every day life.

Afterwards Mr Gibbon introduced the poem "Jabberwocky" to us. It was written by Lewis Carroll and appeared in his book "Alice Through the Looking Glass". It is full of pseudowords which look like english words but in fact are inventions of the author. Therefore "Jabberwocky" is a good example of word formation.

The next aspect being dealt with in the lecture was morphological structure which includes inflection and word formation. Inflection marks the relation of words to their contexts. For this purpose a grammatical morpheme (in English in form of a suffix) is added. Thus the class of the word and its central meaning does not change. Word formation is either done with derivation (a stem plus an affix) or with compounds (at least two stems are combined). This might change the part of speech and the meaning.

Morphemes are defined as the smallest meaningful parts of words. They can be divided in two main types. Lexical morphemes (content morphemes, roots) are an open set including free words like boy, girl, man, etc. Grammatical morphemes (structural morphemes) are a closed set and either free (prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs) or bound (affixes in word formation and inflection).

Finally we talked about allomorphs. Allomorphs means that one morpheme is realized in different variants. As an example we chose the plural morpheme of nouns. In this case the same morpheme can be realized for example with an -s (e.g. dog -> dogs) or -en (ox -> oxen) or a stem vowel change (man -> men).

25.1.07 14:34

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