Mark Aronoff

in Linguistics

ISBN: 9780199772810
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:

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  • Linguistics
  • Anthropological Linguistics
  • Language Families
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Morphology, the study of forms, is the branch of linguistics that deals with the internal structure of complex words. The term was first used in linguistics by August Schleicher in 1859. Linguists distinguish between simple words, such as soon, which have no internal structure apart from sound, and complex words, such as sooner, which can be analyzed into meaningful parts (in this case soon and the English comparative suffix –er). Morphology addresses the latter. The world’s languages differ greatly in the complexity of their morphology. At one extreme, such languages as Vietnamese have very few ways to form complex words, while at the other, languages such as Chukchi (spoken in Siberia) may have very long words, constructed by adding many affixes one after another, that are equivalent in meaning to entire sentences. Languages also differ in the devices that are used to form complex words and the functions that this complexity serves. The study of morphology is one of the oldest branches of linguistics. The oldest known linguistic work, Panini’s grammar of Sanskrit, consisted entirely of morphology, and the classical Greek, Latin, and Semitic grammarians also concerned themselves largely with morphology. In modern-day linguistics, which began in the 19th century, morphology is one of the core areas of grammar, along with phonetics, phonology, syntax, and semantics/pragmatics.

Article.  9453 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Language Families ; Psycholinguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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