Sunday, December 29, 2019

Allomorph Word Forms and Sounds

In phonology, an allomorph is a variant form of a morpheme. (A morpheme is the smallest unit of a language.) For example, the plural in English has three different morphs, making plural an allomorph, because there are alternatives. Not all plurals are formed in the same way; theyre made in English with three different morphs: /s/, /z/, and  [É™z], as in kicks, cats, and sizes, respectively.   For example, when we find a group of different  morphs, all versions of one morpheme, we can use the prefix  allo-  ( one of a closely related set) and describe them as allomorphs of that morpheme. Take the morpheme plural. Note that it can be attached to a number of lexical morphemes to produce structures like cat   plural, bus   plural, sheep   plural, and man   plural. In each of these examples, the actual forms of the morphs that result from the morpheme plural are different. Yet they are all allomorphs of the one morpheme. So, in addition to /s/ and /É™z/, another allomorph of plural in English seems to be a zero-morph because the plural form of  sheep  is actually sheep   ∅. When we look at man   plural, we have a vowel change in the the morph that produces the irregular plural form  men. (George Yule, The Study of Language, 4th ed. Cambridge University Press, 2010) Past Tense Allomorphs Past tense is another morpheme that has multiple morphs and is thus an allomorph. When you form the past tense, you add the sounds /t/, /d/, and /É™d/ to words to put them in past tense, such as in talked, grabbed, and wanted, respectively. Completely arbitrary allomorphs, such as English  went  (go  Ã‚  past tense), are relatively rare in the  lexicon, and occur almost exclusively with a few very frequent words. This unpredictable kind of allomorphy is called  suppletion. (Paul Georg Meyer, Synchronic English Linguistics: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Gunter Narr Verlag, 2005) Pronunciation Can Change Depending on the context, allomorphs can vary in shape and pronunciation without changing meaning, and the formal relation between phonological allomorphs is called an  alternation.  [A]n underlying morpheme can have multiple surface level allomorphs (recall that the prefix allo means other). That is, what we think of as a single unit (a single morpheme) can actually have more than one  pronunciation  (multiple allomorphs)...We can use the following analogy:  phoneme:  allophone   morpheme: allomorph. (Paul W. Justice, Relevant Linguistics: An Introduction to the Structure and Use of English for Teachers, 2nd ed. CSLI, 2004) For example, [t]he  indefinite article  is a good example of a morpheme with more than one allomorph. It is  realized  by the two forms  a  and  an. The sound at the beginning of the following word determines the allomorph that is selected. If the word following the indefinite article begins with a  consonant, the allomorph  a  is selected, but if it begins with a  vowel  the allomorph  an  is used instead... [A]llomorphs of a morpheme are in  complementary distribution. This means that they cannot substitute for each other. Hence, we cannot replace one allomorph of a morpheme by another allomorph of that morpheme and change meaning. (Francis Katamba, English Words: Structure, History, Usage, 2nd ed. Routledge, 2004) More on the Term Itself   The terms adjectival use is  allomorphic. Its etymology derives from the Greek,  Ã‚  other form.

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