Table of Contents

Introduction: Inflectional Morphemes in English

Inflectional Morphemes: Examples

Inflectional Morphemes: Main Features

Morphological Composition

8 Inflectional Morphemes & Second Language Phonology

Phonological Processes

Parameters of English Consonants

Conclusion: Inflectional Morphemes in English

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Works Cited

Term Paper on 8 Inflectional Morphemes in English: Full List & Examples

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Introduction: Inflectional Morphemes in English

According to the Cambridge dictionary , the meaning of inflection in grammar is “a change in or addition to the form of a word that shows a change in the way it is used in sentences.” Inflectional morphemes system in English is regarded as quite “poor” since it has quite “little inflectional morphology” as compared to other languages (Denham & Lobeck 158). Thus, there are only 8 inflectional morphemes that indicate at the form and the tense of a word.

The list of inflectional morphemes includes:

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s – is an indicator of a plural form of nouns

s’ – marks the possessive form of nouns

s – is attached to verbs in the third person singular

ed – is an indicator of the past tense of verbs

ing – indicates the present participle

en – marks past participle

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er – is attached to adjectives to show a comparative form

est – is an indicator of the superlative form of adjectives

Inflectional Morphemes: Examples

Here are some examples of inflectional morphemes using in English. The verb “to mark” has many forms: mark (basic form), marking (present continuous), marked (past simple), etc. We add the inflectional morphemes (the endings) like -ed and -ing to the basic form of the verb to indicate its tense.

Inflectional Morphemes: Main Features

It is worth mentioning that inflectional morphemes do not create new words. They only change the form of a word indicating “grammatical function” of a word (Denham & Lobeck 69). Thus, certain inflectional affixes serve their purpose to create specific forms of the word. That’s their main difference from another morphemes type – derivational morphemes that are used to create new words in English. Due to the peculiarities of the English morphology, morphemes indicating plural form and past tense form can vary in pronunciations. So, some inflectional morphemes can have several allomorphs.

For instance, the choice of allomorph in English morphology may depend on phonetic or grammatical conditions (Brinton & Brinton 91). Allomorphs that are phonetically determined indicate plural forms and present tense form [s], [z], [iz], and signs of the past tense form [t] and [d] in inflectional morphemes. Examples of this can be found when a word ends in a voiceless consonant or a fricative (cat, map). In these cases, the speaker should choose allomorph [s]. Whereas for words ending in voiced consonants or vowels, it is necessary to use allomorph [z], in case a word ends in affricate allomorph [iz] should be used.

As for grammatically conditioned allomorphs, some of them are fish, sheep, mice, children, oxen, criteria, stimuli. They are formed by not productive endings, which are “linguistic fossils” or borrowings (Brinton & Brinton 92).

Morphological Composition

In terms of the concept of inflectional morphemes, it is also important to single out the concept of morphs. According to Brinton and Brinton, a lexical morph is “the concrete realization of a morpheme,” i.e., it is the way the word is actually pronounced (Brinton & Brinton 83).

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For instance, such words as fish or sheep, do not have the definite realization of plural form, they are written and pronounced in the same way as in singular. However, the word is used in the plural form (due to context). In English morphology, words have zero morphs, which do not have a phonetic or written realization.

There are two types of morphs, free and bound. Bound morphs cannot occur as separate words; they can be only components of a word, whereas free morphs can be a separate word; they are usually roots. It is necessary to point out that a morph can contain several lexical affixes in English. Thus, a simple word can have quite complicated morphological composition. This can be illustrated by the morphological analysis of the words me and his :

me 2 morphemes { I } + paper writing reviews

his 2 morphemes { he } +

Thus, there are no inflectional morphemes, and no allomorphs are used. Instead, new stems are created. In this case, such change is determined by the historical aspect. These forms were developed from the word form from Old English.

8 Inflectional Morphemes & Second Language Phonology

Phonology is one of the first important aspects that influence affixation in English (Brinton & Brinton 11). It is the study of sounds in English. Reputedly, the range of sound which people can produce is extensive. People do not use in their native language every sound they can produce; the scope of sounds in each language is quite limited.

Thus, in different languages occur sounds not used in other languages. For instance, such sounds as [Δ] can be quite confusing for learners of English as the second language, especially when there is no such sound in their native language. The sound [Δ] is often substituted by [d]. One can explain this by the parallel distribution of these sounds.

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Thus, [Δ] is produced at the upper teeth, and [d] is produced at the upper gum. This can be an explanation of why these sounds sounds often substitute each other. For example, the following group of words can illustrate this phenomenon: that [dat], dog [dɑɡ], head [hεd], leather [lεΔə] leader [liΔə].

Other examples of commonly substituted sounds are the following: [s] and [ʃ]. This set of sounds can also be characterized by parallel distribution; both sounds are produced approximately likewise, at the upper gum. These sounds confusion may be exemplified by the following sets: sing [ʃɪŋ], sat [sat], loss [lɑs], fish [fɪʃ], miss [mɪʃ], push [pus].

Of course, native speakers differentiate easily between these sounds and, in fact, such sounds can be characterized by complementary distribution for them. However, a learner for English can confuse these sets of sounds due to their similar place of articulation, especially if there are no such sounds in the native language of this learner.

In case if similar sounds occur in the native language, a learner of English will differentiate between these sounds as well, and they are in the complementary distribution for this learner. However, if there are no such sounds in the native language the pairs [Δ] and [d], [s] and [ʃ] will be in parallel distribution and, for example, such pairs as [Δ] and [b], [s] and [k] will be in complementary distribution.

Thus, for such learners (not accustomed to such sounds) the following words will be pronounced as follows: D a dd y [dædi], ei th er [aidə], loa th e [ləud], sh ip [sip], pa ss [pɑʃ], di sh [diʃ], u sh er [ʌsə].

Phonological Processes

There are several major phonological processes in English. One of the most common phonological processes is assimilation. Assimilation is a process when one sound influences the other sound. This rule can be illustrated by the impact of nasal consonants on vowels.

For instance, the sound [æ] (like in words cat [kæt], sat [sæt]) will be pronounced like [ã] before nasal sounds: Pam [pãm], Sam [sãm], pan [pãn]. Another important phonological process is aspiration. In English voiceless consonants are aspirated when they occur at the beginning of the word or at the end of the word.

It is necessary to tell that such kinds of consonants are not aspirated when they are preceded by s. So the pattern /t/ – [t˺] illustrates this phonological process. It can be exemplified by: sat [sat˺], met [me t˺], let [le t˺].

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Of course, many words can be characterized by several phonological processes. For instance, such set like /tɛnpeɪʤz/ – [tʰɛmpʰeɪʤəz] displays such processes as assimilation [n] – [m], aspiration [tʰ], deletion [ʤz] – [ʤz]. Another phonological process, exchanging syllable onsets, is often displayed in children English (Denham and Lobeck 118).

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For instance, the word elephant can be pronounced as [ɛfəlɛnt]. Another phonological process is determined by dialectal varieties. For instance, in African American Vernacular English, final voiced consonants are often devoiced (Yavaş 62). This process can be illustrated by the following examples: [hɛp], [pik]. One more dialectal variety is Southern English, which is characterized by the substitution of [e] by [i] before nasal consonants (Yavaş 82).

Parameters of English Consonants

17 is between both 3s, 11 is vibrating, and 8-9 is closed. Sound: [Δ]

16 is completely touching 5, 11 is vibrating, and 8-9 is closed. Sound: [r]

16 is close to 5, 11 is open and 8-9 is open. Sound: [l]

14 is completely touching 8, 11 is open, and 8-9 is closed. Sound: [k]

14 is completely touching 8, 11 is vibrating, and 8-9 is open. Sound: [g]

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2 on the bottom is close to 3 on the top, 11 is vibrating, and 8-9 is closed. Sound: [v]

Both 2s are completely touching, 11 is open, and 8-9 is closed. Sound: [p]

Both 2s are completely touching, 11 is vibrating, and 8-9 is open. Sound: [b]

Conclusion: Inflectional Morphemes in English

Inflectional morphemes show whether a word has the plural, comparative, or possessive form, and whether it is in a past or present tense. Unlike derivational morphemes, they do not create new words. edubirdie This essay tells how many inflectional morphemes are there in English, provides the full list of them, and gives some examples of inflectional morphemes using.

Works Cited

Brinton, L. J. & Brinton, D. M. The Linguistic Structure of Modern English . Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2010.

Denham, K. Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction . Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2009.

Yavaş, M. S. Applied English Phonology. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.