Morphology

 
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Hi. In the previous video, we have seen that
we can distinguish syntax and morphology. One is the study of sentences. The other is the study of words. In this video, we are going to start with
morphology, with the study of words. Suppose we have some scholar
from Mars visiting the Earth and he wants to know about human language. And he asks you, what does human
language actually consist of? The first thing you might say is,
well, it consists of words. It seems very trivial even. We have a sentence: the sun is shining. That's four words. The sun is shining. But the next question your martian
may ask you is how do you know? Why is sun a word? Why isn't the sun a word? Why isn't sun is a word or nis a word? It seems trivial, but think about it,
maybe stop the video and think about it. What makes the sun is and
shining four words? Okay, here are three criteria
you might have thought of. The first criterion is words are those
things which occur between spaces. You may have thought of that. So we write a sentence
like the sun is shining. We put spaces between the, sun, sun,
is, is, shining, gives us four words. Trivial. Very easy. However, it works only for
written language. It doesn't work for spoken language. And most languages in the world
are spoken and not written at all. And even English is spoken most
of the time and not written. So how does that work then? Passion fruit. Is that one word? When we write it we put a space there. Does it make it into one word in English? Ice cream, same question. So, we may need a second criteria. Meaning, one word is one concept. Passion fruit is one thing. Passion fruit is not about feeling
passion and then eating a fruit, it's one thing a passion fruit. It's one concept. But that leaves us with a question, what does it mean to say one concept,
what's that? And that's not very trivial either. So there's a third criterion which is
about pronunciation we cannot just really interrupt the word passion fruit,
we pronounce it together as one word. That's what we call prosody,
the way in which we pronounce words and sentences together. So this prosodic criterion maybe
gives us an idea of saying passion fruit as one word although of
course I can say pass sion fruit. And I have some space even right in
between pass and sion, and pass and sion definitely are not
two different words. So we have three criteria, and
they don't really work each one of them, and linguistics are still quarreling about
what is the right definition of a word? But for us, we're going to just make do,
so these three criteria, that's what we are going to use. So words are hard to define and at the same time we know a word
whenever we see one or hear one. Take, for example,
an English word like uncovering. That consists of three parts. There's a base, cover. We call it a base because cover is an
independent word in its own right. We can say, I cover you. Something like that. And there's two additions, un and ing. These are not words in their own right. You cannot use them independently
from some other word. You cannot say I'm very un-,
or I'm ing'ing. These things which are not
independent are called affixes. As a matter of fact un,
is called a prefix. Things occurring before
the base are called prefixes. And ing is called a suffix,
things after the base are called suffixes. All of these bits, the base and
the affixes, are called morphemes. Different languages use morphemes, the system of putting morphemes together,
to different degrees. And that turns out to be very useful for
classifying languages. There are different kind of languages,
the first type is called isolating. In isolating languages,
most words are exactly one morpheme, and there are very few or no
combinations of morphemes to make words. A relevant example of this is Chinese. In Chinese, there's a one to one, almost a one to one relationship
between morpheme and meaning. Here you see an example of
four Chinese sentences. And what you can see is that between I
have one book, and I have two books, two things change in English,
one changes into two, and book changes into books, but
in Chinese only one things changes. Similarly, between I have one book and he has one book only one thing changes,
although two things change in English. And two things change in Chinese. But only between I have one book,
and he has two books. When two parts of the idea change. The second type of language
is called agglutinative. Agglutinative languages use
a lot of morphemes, but put those morphemes together
in a very transparent way. Turkish is an example of that,
you see it here. You take hand as a base. You put one morpheme to make the plural,
you get hands. You have another morpheme to give
the possessive as we call it, my hand. That's one morpheme, but
you can also put both together. And you can see that they
stay in the same shape. The third type of language
is called fusional. And a famous example of that is Arabic. In Arabic, you don't just have affixes
put before or after the base. But there are also things happening
within the base, internal to the base. Here you see some examples. You see, that to make books from
book you don't add a suffix or a prefix, but you change the vowels. And you can make another change of
the vowels and you get writer or to write, well actually to write also has an affix. The final type
of language is called polysynthetic. In these you can combine bases and
affixes almost endlessly. You can have enormous words which express
a lot of different kinds of meaning. An example of that is from Mohawk. Mohawk is still spoken by Native American
people in the state of New York in the United States. Here you see an example word in Mohawk. This one word in Mohawk means she made
the thing that one puts on one's body, ugly for him, one word for
saying that thing but a very long word. So, speakers of Mohawk must
have a very different concept of what a word really is. Now, it would obviously be great if we
could subdivide all languages in the world easily into these classes. But usually, it's not that easy. English, for example, seems to be
somewhere in between fusional and isolating languages. And actually also something
of an agglutinative language. It's a bit agglutinative. We have seen that it has words like
uncovering, so it has prefixes, suffixes and has affixes. But it doesn't have very many, and
in that respect it's also isolating. And it's even a little bit fusional, because it has words like,
sing, sang, sung. We change the time, and
we change the vowel, just like in Arabic. In summary, we have seen that we can
distinguish four types of languages. And you can do this according
to their morphology, the way in which they treat morphemes. And this gives us isolating,
fusional, agglutinative, and polysynthetic languages. We are going to see much more
of this in the next video.

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