INFLECTION

INFLECTION

Inflection is a process, which never change the syntactic category of the words or morphemes to which they are attached. They are always attached the complete words. In contrast with derivation, inflection does not result in a change of word classes and the result is a predictable word. The example is the word table become tables and jump into jump-ed. The word table after add –s showh the plurality. It does not change the meaning or category of the word table.

Further examples of inflection are number, noun class, and case.

Number

Number is the morphological category that expresses contrast involving countable quantities. It comprises singular and plural. Noun class can be marked is a variety of ways.

Gender

The gender (kind) classes of the noun are masculine, feminine and neuter.

Case

Case is a category that encodes information about an element’s grammatical role (subject, direct object, and so on) that has nominal paradigm or declension. There are Nominative Case (the subject), Accusative Case (the direct object), Dative Case (the recipient), Genitive Case (the possessor), Locative Case (a place or location), and Abative Case (direction away from somewhere).

Tense

Tense is a category that encodes the time of an event with reference to the moment of speaking

 

Inflection and derivation are the two main processes of word formation. They are two kinds of morphosyntactic operation.

 

Compare: Inflection and derivation

 

Inflectional operations create forms that are fully grounded and able to be integrated into discourse, whereas derivational operations create stems that are not necessarily fully grounded and which may still require inflectional operations before they can be integrated into discourse.

 

Here is a table that compares and contrasts inflection and derivation:

 

 

Inflectional operations

Derivational operations

Lexical category

Do not change the lexical category of the word.

Often change the lexical category of the word

Location

Tend to occur outside derivational affixes.

Tend to occur next to the root

Type of meaning

Contribute syntactically conditioned information, such as number, gender, or aspect.

Contribute lexical meaning

Affixes used

Occur with all or most members of a class of stems.

Are restricted to some, but not all members of a class of stems

Productivity

May be used to coin new words of the same type.

May eventually lose their meaning and usually cannot be used to coin new terms

Grounding

Create forms that are fully-grounded and able to be integrated into discourse.

Create forms that are not necessarily fully grounded and may require inflectional operations before they can be integrated into discourse

 

Note:

Inflection versus derivation is more a continuum than a strict distinction. Some operations fall in between the prototypical extremes. Operations tend to migrate diachronically from inflection to derivation. (Very rarely do they migrate in the opposite direction.)

Derivational Vs. Inflectional Morpheme

As discussed in class, there are two types of morpheme: FREE morpheme, and BOUND morpheme. FREE morpheme is then further divided into two: LEXICAL and FUNCTIONAL morpheme. BOUND morpheme is also further divided into two categories: DERIVATIONAL and INFLECTIONAL morpheme.

DERIVATIONAL morpheme changes the root’s class of words OR its meaning, OR BOTH. The word ‘unhappy’ derives from the root HAPPY added with a prefix UN. Both ‘happy’ and ‘unhappy’ are adjectives. The meaning, however, is totally different. “I am unhappy” is totally different from “I am happy”. In this case, the prefix UN is called DERIVATIONAL MORPHEME.

INFLECTIONAL morpheme, on the other hand, does not change either the root’s class of words or the meaning. The word ‘books’, for example, derives from the root BOOK added with a suffix –S. Both ‘book’ and ‘books’ are NOUN. The meaning is still the same. The suffix –S only indicates the plural form. In this case, the suffix –S is INFLECTIONAL.

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