Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the nature and history of the notion of the morpheme in linguistic analysis, and the suitability of that concept to linguistic analysis. The historical origins of the term are traced, especially as it was used in American Structuralist work, and a range of problems with the literal application of the traditional concept to actual languages sketched. The role played by a notion of morpheme in a range of recent theories is then outlined. It is argued that although the re-emergence of an interest in morphology in the 1970s brought with it an assumption that morphemes of a classical sort are the fundamental building blocks of the structure of words, the facts of actual languages argue for a rather different conception of the relation between the form and content of words from that grounded in their division into units of this sort.

Keywords: morpheme, Ferdinand de Saussure, Jan Baudouin de Courtenay, American Structuralism, phonaesthemes, word-based morphology, non-concatenative morphology, Distributed Morphology, Inferential-Realizational theories

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.