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Inflections

Inflection is the name for the extra letter or letters added to nouns, verbs and adjectives in their different
grammatical forms. Nouns are inflected in the plural, verbs are inflected in the various tenses, and adjectives are
inflected in the comparative/superlative. Here are some of the most important inflection rules:

Original word type Inflection Rule Examples


Words ending with a Add -es in the plural noun or bus buses (n) / busses (v)
sibilant:-s/-ss/-sh/-ch/x. 3rd person singular verb. miss misses
wish wishes
watch watches
fox foxes
potato potatoes
Words ending with the do does
letter -o.
Words ending consonant Change the -y to ie before party parties
- y. the ending -s. study studies
cry cries
Words ending consonant Change the -y to i before the try tried
- y. endings -ed/-er/-est/-ly. happy happier
easy easiest
Words ending consonant Do NOT change the -y before the carry carrying
- y. ending -ing. try trying
Words ending vowel - y. Do NOT change the -y. buy buys
play played
Words ending with the Change the -ie to a - y before the die dying
letters -ie. ending -ing. lie lying
Verbs ending consonant Omit the -e before the ending ride riding
-e. -ing. love loving
write writing
provide providing
One-syllable words Double the last consonant before hit hitting
endingconsonant-vowel- the endings -ing/-ed/-er/-est. stop stopped
consonant. wet wetter
fat fattest
begin beginning
prefer preferred
Two or more syllable
words
ending consonant-
vowel-consonant that
are stressed on the last
syllable.
Two or more syllable Do NOT double the last happen happening
words consonant before the endings visit visited
ending consonant- -ing/-ed/-er/-est.
vowel-consonant that
are stressed on the first
syllable.

Inflectional morphology
Inflectional morphology is one of the two main branches of morphology. In a nutshell, inflectional
morphology distinguishes different inflections of the same lexeme, whereas derivational morphology
distinguishes different lexemes that are related to one another; but they both use much the same range
of morphological resources to do it. For example, the -ing of painting is inflectional in (1) and
derivational in (2).

(1) He was painting a picture.

(2) We bought a painting.

In (1), painting is just one of the four distinct forms of the lexeme PAINTv (the verb PAINT), contrasting
with paints, painted and paint. In (2) it is a distinct lexeme, the noun PAINTING, whose two inflected
forms arepainting and paintings.

Here are the main differences between inflectional and derivational morphology:

Inflectional morphology relates forms of the same lexeme


Inflections are distinct word classes with distinct grammar (e.g. there are rules that mention
`singular' and `plural'

Inflectional morphemes are always 'outside' derivational ones; e.g. the plural of PAINTING is
{paintings}, not {paintsing}.

In WG the difference between derivational and inflectional morphology lies in the relation 'whole',
which is reserved for inflectional morphology. A word's whole is its fully inflected form, so this can only
be produced by inflectional morphology; so what inflectional morphology has to explain is whatever
differences there may be between the word's whole and its `stem' - e.g. the difference between the
stem {dog} and the whole {dogs}. This difference is a matter of inflectional morphology because it is
due to the inflection Plural.

In contrast, derivational morphology is only concerned with stems, not wholes. It explains the
relations between the stems of different lexemes, for example, the relation between {dog} and {doggy},
which are stems of different lexemes.

Inflectional morphology may use the same morphemes and morphological patterns as derivational,
so these are best described separately. In WG they are described in terms of x-forms; e.g. the 'ing-
form' of an English word may be used as:

the whole of an active participle (e.g. He was walking.) - inflectional


the stem of an adjective (e.g. an interesting book) - derivational

the stem of a noun (e.g. a drawing) - derivational


Values of Map 26A. Prefixing vs. Suffixing in Inflectional Morphology

Value Representation

141

Predominantly 406
suffixing

Moderate 123
preference for
suffixing

Approximately 147
equal amounts
of suffixing and
prefixing

Moderate 94
preference for
prefixing

Predominantly 58
prefixing

Total: 969

The first value shown on the map is for languages which have little or no inflectional prefixing or
suffixing. A language is classified as a language of this type if its affixing index is 2 or less. An example
of a language of this type is Thai, which is completely lacking in inflectional affixes of the categories
examined. A more borderline case of this type is Vai (Mande; Liberia; Welmers 1976), in which the only
inflectional affixes I record are suffixes for tense-aspect, which gives the language an affixing index of
only 2. Other less frequent inflectional methods like infixation, tonal affixes, and stem changes were
ignored, so that a language might count as a language with little inflectional prefixing or suffixing but
still have affixation of these other types. For example, Dinka (Nilotic; Sudan; Nebel 1948) employs stem
changes for case and for plural, but the only suffixes or prefixes I record are a definite suffix and
possessive suffixes, which give the language an affixing index of only 2, which means that it is shown
as having little or no inflectional prefixing or suffixing.
For all the remaining types, the affixing index must be greater than 2. The differ from each other in the
relative amount of prefixing and suffixing.

The second type is languages which are predominantly suffixing, defined for the purposes of this
map as languages with a suffixing index which is more than 80% of its affixing index. The highest
suffixing index in the sample is 11, represented by two languages, West
Greenlandic (Eskimo; Fortescue 1984) and Central Yupik (Eskimo; Alaska; Reed et al. 1977); both of
these languages are exclusively suffixing for the affix categories examined. This type also includes
languages with considerably less affixation, but what affixation they have is largely if not entirely
suffixing, as long as the affixing index is greater than 2. For example, Korana (Central Khoisan; South
Africa;Meinhof 1930) has an affixing index of 3, with suffixes for case (2 points) and plural (1 point) and
no inflectional prefixes.

The third type is languages with a moderate preference for suffixes, defined as languages in which
the suffixing index is more than 60% of the affixing index but not more than 80%. An example of such a
language is Beja (Cushitic; Sudan; Reinisch 1893), which has a suffixing index of 10 and a prefixing
index of 3 (so that its suffixing index is 77% of its affixing index). An example of a language of this type
with less morphology is Mokilese (Oceanic; Micronesia; Harrison and Albert 1976), which has a
suffixing index of 2 and a prefixing index of 1.

The fourth type is languages with approximately equal amounts of suffixing and prefixing, defined
here as languages with a suffixing index that is greater than or equal to 40% of the affixing index and
less than or equal to 60% of the affixing index. An example of a language of this type with considerable
inflectional morphology is Ubykh (Northwest Caucasian; Turkey; Charachidze 1989), whose suffixing
index and prefixing index are both 5.5. An example of a language of this type with less inflectional
morphology is Kiribati(Oceanic; Kiribati; Groves et al. 1985), whose suffixing index and prefixing index
are both 2.

The fifth type is languages with a moderate preference for prefixes, where the prefixing index is
more than 60% of the affixing index but not more than 80%. An example of such a language
is Mohawk (Iroquoian; New York state, Ontario; Bonvillain 1973), which has a prefixing index of 6 and a
suffixing index of 3. An example of this type with less morphology is Au (Torricelli; Papua New
Guinea; Scorza 1985), which has a prefixing index of 2 and a suffixing index of 1. Nuaulu, used above
to illustrate the calculation of the indices, is also a language of this type.

The last type is languages which are predominantly prefixing in their inflectional morphology,
defined here as languages with a prefixing index that is more than 80% of its affixing index. The highest
prefixing index in the sample is 9.5 and is found in Hunde (Bantu;Democratic Republic of
Congo; Kahombo 1992). Kihunde is not exclusively prefixing; it has a suffixing index of 0.5, due to its
having both possessive prefixes and possessive suffixes, with neither dominant. Again, this type
includes languages with less morphology, as long as their affixing index is greater than 2 and their
affixes are primarily prefixes. For example, Sango (Adamawa-Ubangi, Niger-Congo; Central African
Republic; Samarin 1967b) has an affixing index of 3, with pronominal prefixes on verbs (2 points) and
plural prefixes on nouns (1 point).

Theoretical issues

Perhaps the largest theoretical question is why suffixes are more frequent than prefixes. Various
hypotheses have been offered. Among them is the idea that prefixes make lexical recognition more
difficult, especially if it is more difficult to identify the beginning of stems (Cutler et al. 1986). Suffixes do
not present a problem, since identifying the ends of stems is less important for lexical recognition.
Further discussion is found in Greenberg (1957), Hall (1988), and Bybee et al. (1990). It should be
noted that different categories of affixes exhibit different degrees of preference for suffixes. For
example, case affixes exhibit a particularly strong suffixing preference; case prefixes are fairly rare (see
Map 51A). On the other hand, pronominal possessive prefixes are approximately as common as
suffixes (see Map 57A).
http://books.google.mk/books?
hl=en&lr=&id=cQg4AAAAIAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=inflectional+morphology+examples&ots=MZdYlHT
ZVI&sig=V2bdMOvx-s-V-Dp8E2YaggElMIA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=inflectional%20morphology
%20examples&f=false

http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam031/00031177.pdf

http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/Inflectional-Morpheme.htm

Inflectional Morphemes and Meanings


"[W]hereas a derivational morpheme relates more to the identity of a word itself (in that it more directly
affects the meaning of the stem), an inflectional morpheme relates the word to the rest of the
construction, motivating a position on the very periphery of the word. . . .

"An inflectional morpheme does not have the capacity to change the meaning or the syntactic class of
the words it is bound to and will have a predictable meaning for all such words. Thus, the present
tense will mean the same thing regardless of the verb that is inflected, and the dative case will have the
same value for all nouns. Semantic abstraction and relativity do not mean that there is little or simple
meaning involved; inflectional categories are never merely automatic or semantically empty. The
meanings of inflectional categories are certainly notoriously difficult to describe, but they exhibit all the
normal behavior we expect from cognitive categories, such as grounding in embodied experience and
radial structured polysemy (see Janda 1993)."