Morpheme-based morphology

Morpheme-based morphology is a view on morphology with the following three basic axioms:

  1. Baudoin’s SINGLE MORPHEME HYPOTHESIS: Roots and affixes have the same status in the theory, they are MORPHEMES.
  2. Bloomfield’s SIGN BASE MORPHEME HYPOTHESIS: As morphemes, they are dualistic signs, since they have both (phonological) form and meaning.
  3. Bloomfield’s LEXICAL MORPHEME HYPOTHESIS: The morphemes, affixes and roots alike, are stored in the lexicon.

Morpheme-based morphology comes in two flavours, one Bloomfieldian and one Hockettian.

The Bloomfieldian tradition

For Bloomfield, the morpheme was the minimal form with meaning, but it was not meaning itself.

Level Lexical form Grammatical form
minimal signalling units phonetic form tactic form
form without meaning phoneme taxemes
form with meaning morpheme tagmeme
meaning sememe episememe

The Hockettian tradition

For Hockett, morphemes are meaning elements, not form elements. For him, there is a morpheme plural, with the allomorphs -s, -en, -ren etc.

Later traditions

Within much morpheme-based morphological theory, these two views are mixed in unsystematic ways, so that a writer may talk about "the morpheme plural" and "the morpheme -s" in the same sentence, although these are different things.

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