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Morphophonology
Bipasha Patgiri
Assistant Professor, (Program for Linguistics)
EFL Department, TU
Introduction to Sub-fields of Linguistics
• Phonetics: Study of sounds and their physical
properties: Articulatory, Acoustic and Auditory
• Phonology: Study of linguistically significant
sound patterns.
• Morphology: Study of word-formation
processes.
• Syntax: Study of sentence structure.
Sub-fields of Linguistics (cont..)
• Semantics: Study of meaning of linguistic
expression.
• Pragmatics: Study of contextual meaning of
linguistic expressions.
• Discourse analysis: Study of language in texts.
• Semiotics: Study of signs and sign processes.
Computational Linguistics
• It refers to the study of linguistic issues in a way
that is 'computationally responsible', i.e., taking
careful note of computational consideration of
algorithmic specification and computational
complexity, so that the linguistic theories devised
can be shown to exhibit certain desirable
computational properties implementations.
• It is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the
statistical or rule-based modelling of natural
language from a computational perspective.
Some Interfaces of Linguistic Sub-fields
• Phonetics and phonology are interrelated and
both focus on the sounds used in human
language.
• Morphophonology: It deals with the phonetic
alternations of phonemes/morphemes across
morpheme boundary.
• Morphosyntax: It deals with morphological
alternations due to sentence formation.
Morphophonology
• It deals with the phonetic alternations of
morphemes across morpheme boundary.
• It is also termed as morphophonemics.
• A morphophonemic rule has the form of a
phonological rule, but is restricted to a particular
morphological environment.
• Morphophonemic variation occur at morpheme
boundaries
• And it involves sounds that are associated with
separate phonemes.
Morphophonology
• A word’s pronunciation can be sensitive to
morphological factors. For example, in English,
‘electric’ /elektrik/ (the final sound is a
voiceless velar stop)
but when added with an /-ity/ suffix,
‘electricity’ /elektrisity/ (the /k/ changes to
/s/, a voiceless alveolar fricative)
What is a Phoneme?
• Phoneme is the smallest unit of sound.
• Phonemes combine together to form morpheme
or word.
• For example, in English, the word ‘psychology’ is
transcribed as /saikələʤi/
• And it consists of 9 phonemes.
• Mind that, the spelling contains 10 symbols.
• Spelling and pronunciation may not match in a
language.
What is a Phoneme?
• Phoneme is the smallest unit of sound.
• Phonemes combine together to form
morpheme or word.
• Find out how many phonemes are in the word
‘Ptolemy’ and ‘Christmas’
What is a Morpheme?
• Morpheme is the minimal meaningful unit of
word.
• Morphemes combine to form words.
• For example, in English, the word
‘disestablishment’ consists of 3 morphemes:
dis-, establish and –ment
• Out of these, only ‘establish’ can stand on its
own. Rest, cannot.
What is a Morpheme?
• Morpheme is the minimal meaningful unit of
word.
• Morphemes combine to form words.
• Find out the number of morphemes in
‘incapability’ and ‘antilogarithm’.
Morphonology of English Plural Suffix
• The selection of the correct form of the
English plural suffix and the other involving
plurals in which the final consonant of the
root changes (as in thief-thieves).
• [-s]
tops
mitts
backs
puffs
batʰs
/taps/
/mits/
/bɛks/
/pafs/
/batʰs/
Environment: The final sound of the base is a
voiceless obstruent or non-strident (p, t, k, f, tʰ
etc).
• [-z]
cobs
lids
bugs
wifes
pins
wings
peas
days
/kabz/
/lidz/
/bagz/
/waivz/
/pinz/
/wiŋz/
/piz/
/deiz/
Environment: The final sound of the base is vowel,
diphthong or a voiced consonant.
• [-əz]
hisses
buzzes
judges
wishes
/hisəz/
/bʌzəz/
/ʤʌʤəz/
/wiʃəz/
Environment: The final sound of the base is a
consonant that is strident (s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ)
Plural allomorphy in English
• State the distribution:
• /-z/
[-s] occurs after a voiceless
obstruent
[-z] occurs a vowel, a diphthong
or a voiced consonant
[-əz] occurs after a strident
Plural allomorphy in English
• The choice of plural allomorph is determined
by the final sound of the base word.
• The underlying form is the one which happens
to be at the widest distribution.
• This process, in terms of phonological
terminology, is called assimilation. The
neighbouring segments assimilates to certain
feature to become similar.
Morphophonlogical rule
• Definition:
A morphophonemic rule has the form of a
phonological rule, but is restricted to a particular
morphological environment.
• Discussion:
Morphophonemic rules are sensitive to their
environment,
unlike
phonological
rules.
Whenever morphological information is required
to specify the environment for an allophonic rule,
the rule is morphophonemic.
English negative prefixation
• The negative prefix /in-/ has the following
allomorphs:
/in-/ + respective = irrespective
/in-/ + literate =
illiterate
Counter Examples
• These rules are morphophonemic and not
phonological. Because, if they were so, the
prefixes /un-/ and /non-/ would also exhibit
this pattern in the same way. But it is not so as
• /un-/ + romantic =
unromantic
• /un-/ + limited =
unlimited
• /non-/ + resident =
non-resident
• /non-/ + lethal =
nonlethal
English negative prefixation
• Hence, the morphophonemic rule which
determines the allomorphs of prefix /in-/ to
be [il-] and [ir-] is different from the rules
which determine prefix forms of /un-/ and
/non-/ prefixes.
• Mind that, all these morphemes mean
negation.
English negative prefixation
• The other allomorphs of English negative
prefix:
• Impossible
• Intolerant
• Incapable
• Irresistible
• Illegal
English negative prefixation
• More examples:
English negative prefixation
• State the distribution:
English negative prefixation
• State the rule:

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