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Diagram of one version of the derivation of the Arabic word muslim, with root consonants associating (shown by dotted grey lines).

Nonconcatenative morphology is a form of word-formation in which the root is modified in a way other than by stringing morphemes together.[1] In English, for example, plurals are usually formed by adding the suffix /z/:

dog ↔ dog+/z/

However, certain words bear the remnants of older non-concatenative processes in their plural forms:

foot ↔ feet

This specific form of non-concatenative morphology is known as base modification, a form in which part of the root undergoes a phonological change without necessarily adding new phonological material. Other forms of base modification include lengthening of a vowel, as in Hindi:

/mar-/ "die" ↔ /maːr-/ "kill"

or tonal change, as in Chalcatongo Mixtec:

/káʔba/ "filth" ↔ /káʔbá/ "dirty".

Another form of non-concatenative morphology is known as transfixation, in which vowel and consonant morphemes are interdigitized. For example, depending on the vowels, the Arabic consonantal root k-t-b can have different but semantically-related meanings. Thus, [katab] 'he wrote' and [kita:b] 'book' both come from the root k-t-b. In the analysis provided by McCarthy's account of nonconcatenative morphology, the consonantal root is assigned to one tier, and the vowel pattern to another.[2]

Yet another common type of non-concatenative morphology is reduplication, a process in which all or part of the root is reduplicated. In Sakha, this process is used to form intensified adjectives:

/k̠ɨhɨl/ "red" ↔ /k̠ɨp-k̠ɨhɨl/ "flaming red".

A final common type of non-concatenative morphology is variously referred to as truncation, deletion, or subtraction. This process removes phonological material from the root, as in Murle:

/oɳiːt/ "rib" ↔ /oɳiː/ "ribs".

See also

References & Bibliography

  1. Haspelmath, Martin (2002). Understanding Morphology, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-340-76026-5.
  2. McCarthy, John J. (1981). A Prosodic Theory of Nonconcatenative Morphology. Linguistic Inquiry 12: 373-418.

External links

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