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This afternoon I and my students (in NTPU) had a sharp argue over what a bound root truely is.

Here’s the source of trouble: a root may or may NOT stand alone.

According to what i know about a root, it should be something that can be the base of a morphologically complex word. Since it is called as a root, it usually carries the core meaning of a word. Sometimes, the root is a word itself if there is no other constituent (like an affix or a free morpheme) attached to it. In this sense, a root is equal to a word.

Then, what is a BOUND root?

A bound root is a bound morpheme which acts more like as a root than an affix. However, unlike the free roots, the bound roots have no meaning in isolation. They can only be attached to specific morpheme to acquire meaning. For example, the word lukewarm is composed of two roots — one is the word warm, the other is a bound root luke. Other than lukewarm, we can hardly find any word made up with luke. (One thing to be set clear here is, it is not the same word as the name Luke)

The same situation can be found in the morphological structure of huckleberry and boysenberry.

Other than this type of morpheme, we have an even tough one.

Some bound roots do occur in many words, but they don’t seem to have a consistant meaning.per-ceivere-ceivecon-ceivede-ceive

And if the word televise can be divided into tele and vise, a prefix and a (free) root, then in what way may we analyze the above examples? Two different morphemes(free and bound) in the same form? Getting to the heart of the matter, if a morpheme is a root, then it is always a root. If it is not, it will never be in any case, not even in the name of BOUND. Agree?

Root Word Lig – to tie / bind

The root word lig comes from Latin and means to tie or bind something. There are many words in English that use the root word lig, and many of them talk about relationships, responsibilities, and beliefs. In other words, things that tie us to others.

Check out some of our favorite words using the root word lig, along with some definitions from Merriam-Webster and helpful examples!


(Noun) an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods


(Noun) loyalty to a person, country, or group


(Noun) something that you must do because of a law, rule, promise, or because it is morally right


(Noun) a tough piece of tissue in your body that holds bones together or keeps organs in place


(Noun) something that is used to tie or bind, such as a thread, particularly in a medical context


(Noun) an association of people or groups with common interests or goals; a class or category of a certain quality


(Adj) required by rule or by law

Love root words? Check out these great blogs:

Check out these other popular blogs: Dating Vocabulary in English, Why You Could Use a Bespeaking Proofreader, Italian Loan Words in English, or these 5 Great Antonyms in English!


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Morphemes may be classified from the semantic point of view and from the structural point of view.

Semantically morphemes fall into two types: 1) root-morphemes and 2) non-root morphemes.

Root-morphemes (or radicals) are the lexical nucleus of words. For example, in the words remake, glassful, disorder the root-morphemes -make, glass- and -order are understood as the lexical centres of the words. The root-morpheme is isolated as the morpheme common to a set of words making up a word-cluster, e.g. the morpheme teach- in to teach, teacher, teaching.

Structurally morphemes fall into three types: 1) free morphemes; 2) bound morphemes; 3) semi-bound (semi-free) morphemes.

A free morpheme is defined as one that coincides with the stem or a word form. For example, the root-morpheme friend- of the noun friendship is naturally qualified as a free morpheme because it coincides with one of the forms of the word friend.

A bound morpheme occurs only as a constituent part of a word. Affixes are bound morphemes for they always make part of a word. For example, the suffixes -ness, -ship, -ize in the words darkness, friendsh ip, to activize, the prefixes im-, dis-, de- in the words impolite, to demobilize.

Some root-morphemes also belong to the class of bound morphemes. These are, as a rule, roots which are found in quite a limited number of words andnever independently or pseudo-roots, i.e. root-morphemes which have lost most of the properties of «full» roots. Such are the root-morphemes goose- in gooseberry, -ceive in conceive. Combining forms, or morphemes borrowed namely from Greek or Latin in which they existed as free forms, are considered to be bound roots. For example, the word tele-phone consists of two bound roots, whereas the word

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cyclic — of a bound root and an affix.

Semi-bound (semi-free) morphemes are morphemes that can function in a morphemic sequence both as an affix and as a free morpheme. For example, the morphemes well and half on the one hand occur as free morphemes that coincide with the stem and the word-form in the utterances to sleep well, half an hour, on the other hand well and half occur as bound morphemes in the words well-known, half- done.


In morphemes different types of meaning can be singled out depending on the semantic class morphemes belong to. Root-morphemes possess lexical, differential and distributional types of meaning. Affixational morphemes have lexical, part-of-speech, differential and distributional types of meaning. Both root-morphemes and affixational morphemes are devoid of grammatical meaning.

As in words lexical meaning in morphemes may also be analyzed into denotational and connotational components. The connotational component of meaning may be found not only in root-morphemes but in affixational morphemes as well. Endearing and diminutive suffixes, such as -ette (kitchenette, leaflette); -ie(y) (dearie, girlie); -ling (duckling, wolfling) bear a heavy emotive charge. The affixational morphemes with the same denotational meaning sometimes differ only in connotation. For example, the morphemes -ly, -like, -ish in the words womanly, womanlike, womanish have the same denotational meaning of similarity but differ in the connotational component (cf. the Russian equivalents: женственный — женский — 6a6ий). Stylistic reference may also be found in morphemes of different types. For example, the affixational morphemes –ine (chlorine)’,-oid (rhomboid) are bookish.

Differential meaning. Differential meaning is the semantic component that serves to distinguish one word from all others containing identical morphemes. In words consisting of two or more morphemes, one of the constituent morphemes always has differential meaning. For example, in the word bookshelf the morpheme – shelf serves to distinguish the word from other words containing the morpheme book-: bookcase, bookstall.

Distributional Meaning. Distributional meaning is the meaning of the order and arrangement of morphemes making up the word. It is found in all words containing more than one morpheme. For example, the word singer is composed of two morphemes sing- and -er both of which possess the denotational meaning — ‘to make musical sounds’ and ‘the doer of the action’. A different arrangement of the same morphemes *ersing would make the word meaningless.

Part-of-speech meaning. In most cases affixational morphemes are indicative of the part of speech to which a derivational word belongs. For example, the affixational morpheme -ment (movement) is used to form nouns, while the affixational morpheme -less (careless) forms adjectives. Sometimes the part-of-speech meaning of morphemes predominates. For example, the morpheme -ice in the word justice se rves principally to transfer the part-of-speech meaning of the morpheme just- into another class and namely that of the noun.

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§ 1. Segmentation of Words into Morphemes. Close observation and comparison of word clearly shows that a great many words nave a composite nature and are made up of smaller units, each possessing sound-form and meaning. These are generally referred to as morphemes defined as the smallest indivisible two-facet language units. For instance, words like boiler, driller fall into the morphemes boil-, drill- and -er by virtue of the recurrence of the morpheme -er in these and other similar words and of the morphemes boil- and drill- in to boil, a boil, boiling and to drill, a drill, drilling, a drill-press, etc. Likewise, words like flower-pot and shoe-lace are segmented into the morphemes flower-, pot-, shoe- and lace- (cf. flower-show, flowerful, etc., shoe-brush, shoeless, etc., on the one band; and pot-lid, pottery, etc., lace-boots, lacing, etc., on the other).

Like a word a morpheme is a two-facet language unit, an association of a certain meaning with a certain sound-pattern. Unlike a word a morpheme is not an autonomous unit and can occur in speech only as a constituent part of the word.

Identification of morphemes in various texts shows that morphemes may have different phonemic shapes.

§ 2 Principles of Morphemic Analysis. Types of Words Segmentability

As far as the complexity of the morphemic structure of the word is concerned all English words fall into two large classes.

To G1ass I belong segmentable words, i.e. those allowing of segmentation into morphemes, e.g. agreement, information, fearless, quickly, door-handle, etc. To С1ass II belong non-segmentable words, i.e. those not allowing of such segmentation, e.g. house, girl, woman, husband, etc.

The operation of breaking a segmentable word into the constituent morphemes is referred to in present-day linguistic literature as the analy-

sis of word-structure on the morphemic level. The morphemic analysis aims at splitting a segmentable word into its constituent morphemes—the basic units at this level of word-structure analysis—and at determining their number and types. The degree of morphemic segment-ability is not the same for different words.

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Complete segmentability is characteristic of a great many words the morphemic structure of which is transparent enough, as their individual morphemes clearly stand out within the word lending themselves easily to isolation.

As can be easily seen from the examples analysed above, the transparent morphemic structure of a segmentable word is conditioned by the fact that its constituent morphemes recur with the same meaning in a number of other words. There are, however, numerous words in the English vocabulary the morphemic structure of which is not so transparent and easy to establish as in the cases mentioned above.

Defective morphemic segmentability is the property of words whose component morphemes seldom or never recur in other words. One

of the component morphemes is a unique morpheme in the sense that it does not, as a rule, recur in a different linguistic environment.

The morphemic analysis of words like cranberry, gooseberry, strawberry shows that they also possess defective morphemic segmentability: the morphemes cran-, goose-, straw- are unique morphemes.

The oppositions that the different types of morphemic segmentability are involved in hardly require any comments with the exception of complete and conditional segmentability versus defective segmentability. This opposition is based on the ability of the constituent morphemes to occur in a unique or a non-unique environment. In the former case the linguist deals with defective, in the latter with complete and conditional segmentability. The distinction between complete and conditional segmentability is based on semantic features of morphemes proper and pseudo-morphemes.

Thus on the level of morphemic analysis the linguist has to operate with two types of elementary units, namely full morphemes and pseudo-(quasi-)morphemes. It is only full morphemes that are genuine structural elements of the language system so that the linguist must primarily focus his attention on words of complete morphemic segmentability. On the other hand, a considerable percentage of words of conditional and

defective segmentability signals a relatively complex character of the morphological system of the language in question, reveals the existence of various heterogeneous layers in its vocabulary.

§ 3. Classification of Morphemes Morphemes may be classified: a) from the semantic point of view, b) from the structural point of view.

a) Semantically morphemes fall into two classes: root-morphemes and non-root or affixationa1 morphemes. Roots and affixes make two distinct classes of morphemes due to the different roles they play in word-structure.

Roots and affixational morphemes are generally easily distinguished and the difference between them is clearly felt as, e.g., in the words helpless, handy, blackness, Londoner, refill, etc.: the root-morphemes help-, hand-, black-, London-, -fill are understood as the lexical centres of the words, as the basic constituent part of a word without which the word is inconceivable.

Non-root morphemes include inflectional morphemes or inflections and affixational morphemes or affixes. Inflections carry only grammatical meaning and are thus relevant only for the formation of word-forms, whereas affixes are relevant for building various types of stems—the part of a word that remains unchanged throughout its paradigm. Lexicology is concerned only with affixational morphemes.

b) Structurally morphemes fall into three types: free morphemes, bound morphemes, semi-free (semi-bound) morphemes.

A bound morpheme occurs only as a constituent part of a word. Affixes are, naturally, bound morphemes, for they always make part of a word, e.g. the-suffixes -ness, -ship, -ize, etc., the prefixes un-,

dis-, de-, etc. (e.g. readiness, comradeship, to activize; unnatural, to displease, to decipher).

Many root-morphemes also belong to the class of bound morphemes which always occur in morphemic sequences, i.e. in combinations with roots or affixes. All unique roots and pseudo-roots are bound morphemes. Such are the root-morphemes theor- in theory, theoretical, etc., barbar-in barbarism, barbarian, etc., -ceive in conceive, perceive, etc.

Speaking of word-structure on the morphemic level two groups of morphemes should be specially mentioned.

The second group embraces morphemes occupying a kind of intermediate position, morphemes that are changing their class membership.

§ 4. Procedure of Morphenic Analysis. The procedure generally employed for the purposes of segmenting words into the constituent morphemes is the method of Immediate and Ultimate Constituents. This method is based on a binary principle, i.e. each stage of the procedure involves two components the word immediately breaks into. At each stage these two components are referred to as the Immediate Constituents (ICs). Each IC at the next stage of analysis is in turn broken into two smaller meaningful elements. The analysis is completed when we arrive at constituents incapable of further division, i.e. morphemes. In terms of the method employed these are referred to as the Ultimate Constituents (UCs). For example the noun friendliness is first segmented into the IC friendly recurring in the adjectives friendly-looking and friendly and the -ness found in a countless number of nouns, such as happiness, darkness, unselfishness, etc. The IC -ness is at the same time a UC of the noun, as it cannot be broken into any smaller elements possessing both sound-form and meaning. The IC friendly is next broken into the ICs friend-and -ly recurring in friendship, unfriendly, etc. on the one hand, and wifely, brotherly, etc., on the other. Needless to say that the ICs friend-and -ly are both UCs of the word under analysis.


The procedure of segmenting a word into its Ultimate Constituent morphemes, may be conveniently presented with the help of a box-like diagram

In the diagram showing the segmentation of the noun friendliness the lower layer contains the ICs resulting from the first cut, the upper one those from the second, the shaded boxes representing the ICs which are at the same time the UCs of the noun.

The morphemic analysis according to the IC and UC may be carried out on the basis of two principles: the so-called root principle and the affix principle. According to the affix principle the segmentation of the word into its constituent morphemes is based on the identification of an affixational morpheme within a set of words; for example, the identification of the suffixational morpheme -less leads to the segmentation of words like useless, hopeless, merciless, etc., into the suffixational morpheme -less and the root-morphemes within a word-cluster; the identification of the root-morpheme agree- in the words agreeable, agreement, disagree makes it possible to split these words into the root -agree- and the affixational morphemes -able, -ment, dis-. As a rule, the application of one of these principles is sufficient for the morphemic segmentation of words.

§5. Morphemic Types of Words. According to the number of morphemes words are classified into monomorphic and polymorphic. Monomorphic or root-words consist of only one root-morpheme, e.g. small, dog, make, give, etc. All polymorphic words according to the number of root-morphemes are classified into two subgroups: monoradical (or one-root words) and polyradical words, i.e. words which consist of two or more roots. Monoradical words fall into two subtypes: 1) radical-suffixa1 words, i.e. words that consist of one root-morpheme and one or more suffixal morphemes, e.g. acceptable, acceptability, blackish, etc.; 2)radical-prefixal words, i.e. words that consist of one root-morpheme and a prefixal morpheme, e.g. outdo, rearrange, unbutton, etc. and З) рrefixo-radical-suffixal, i.e. words which consist of one root, a prefixal and suffixal morphemes, e.g. disagreeable, misinterpretation, etc.

Polyradical words fall into two types: 1) polyradical words which consist of two or more roots with no affixational morphemes, e.g. book-stand, eye-ball, lamp-shade, etc. and 2) words which contain at least two roots and one or more affixational morphemes, e.g. safety-pin, wedding-pie, class-consciousness, light-mindedness, pen-holder, etc.


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