Weekly outline

  • The basics

  • February 15: Introduction

    First, please watch the following video (it's roughly 11 minutes), which explains the very basic concepts of morphology, and make sure you understand everything. If you don't, use the forum to ask & discuss:

    Make sure you are familiar with the following concepts (listed in the order of their appearance in the video), and that you can give (your own) examples (from various languages that you speak): word, lexicon, lexical unit, (un)predictable meaning, morpheme, morphology, free morpheme, compound, bound root, root, affix, suffix, prefix, bound morpheme, infix, circumfix, fusional morphology, suppletion

    Second, please watch the following lecture by Martin Hilpert, who is a rather prominent cognitive linguist – with a linguistic YouTube channel! The lecture is roughly 34 minutes long, and it provides you with an overview of word-formation processes used in English that you will probably (mostly) have heard of. Again, this is a way for me to make sure that we all have the same baseline knowledge. Again, if you have any questions, comments, or interesting examples that you would like to add, please use the forum.

    Make sure you are familiar with the following concepts (listed in the order of their appearance in the video), and that you can give (your own) examples (from various languages that you speak): word, 3 ways of creating new words; compounding (compound, compound stress rule, endocentric × exocentric × copulative), affixation (inflectional × derivational suffixes, multiple affixation, allomorphy, stress shift in affixation), conversion, clipping, backformation (), acronymy (acronyms × initialisms), blending

    Finally, as a way for me to check that you know the material, please do the quick exercise below.

    If you do not know a word in the exercise, use a dictionary, e.g. Cambridge Dictionary. Also, if you are using Google in English, you can just type "define xxx" and "etymology xxx"! For instance, if you google "define scuba," this is what you get:


    If you type in "etymology scuba," this is what you get, and so you can easily find out how scuba was formed:


    Useful, innit?

  • February 22: Morpheme-based approaches

  • March 1: Problems with the morpheme

    This week,

    a) read the section 1.4 Termites in the Foundations of the Structuralist Morpheme of Anderson (2015)* [pages 6–12 of the pdf attached];

    b) based on his discussion and the examples he gives, find five examples of words / types of words in any languages of your choice that represent various problems that Anderson talks about (or, possibly, other problems with the morpheme, if you can think of any that he does not mention); submit your assignment via Moodle (here) by the end of the week (i.e., by March 7). For more information and an example, look here.

    *) Anderson, S. R. (2015): The Morpheme: Its Nature and Use. In: M. Baerman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Inflection, 11–33. Oxford University Press.

  • March 8: Word-based morphology

    This week, I have decided to strip things down a bit, and so the following written lecture slash exercise slash idk (which should not take more than an hour, I guess) will guide you through the basics of word-based models of morphology, asking you to fill in some slots as you go through it, to make sure you pay attention, and then asking you to provide one short written answer on the final page. If you don't understand anything, ask.

  • March 15: Morphology in cognitive linguistics

    This week, we will look at a relatively recent approach to word-formation, one couched within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics.

    Especially if you are not familiar with the framework, watch this video which should give you some rough idea of what Cognitive Linguistics is (and isn't) – it's Martin Hilpert once again:

    Then, I would like you to read an overview paper by John Taylor (from 2015) that introduces you to the cognitivist way of thinking about forming new words (more precisely, it is based on Langacker's Cognitive Grammar, which is an important approach in Cognitive Linguistics, but not the only one – we will talk about this a bit more next week when we talk about Construction Grammar).

    Based on the reading, complete the review below (Word-formation in cognitive grammar). The reading might be somewhat challenging, but focusing on what you need to fill in in the review migt help you to focus your attention on what matters in the text. Next week, we will explain any issues that might arise & have a look at some examples of how cognitive linguists/grammarians have analyzed complex words.

  • March 29: Relational Morphology

    This week I would like you to get acquainted with the framework of Relational Morphology. The framework is very similar to Construction Morphology (aka morphology within Construction Grammar), which we talked about last week. For all practical purposes, you can basically assume that the theories are in fact the one and the same theory (and, in fact, their authors have collaborated and cowritten papers together). The two main people associated with Relational Morphology are Ray Jackendoff, whom you will meet this week (well, kind of), and Jenny Audring. The framework is sort of the "new hot thing," and it seems to be a very promising framework, and we will be coming back to it throughout the rest of the semester.

    I would like you to basically watch the following lecture of Ray Jackendoff. Based on the lecture, I would like you to summarize the main principles of the theory of Relational Morphology, which is the third assignment. The assignment should not exceed two pages. Since there is no class next week because of Easter, the assignment is due April 11.

  • April 12: Psycholinguistics

    This week, based on the syllabus, we were supposed to focus on language acquisition, which is part of psycholinguistics. Instead, I have decided to look at psycholinguistics per se first, and from a slightly different perspective than what I planned. Your task for this week is very simple: Read carefully the attached paper. It is very short (five pages), but it might be a bit of a challenge, and you might need to go through it more than once. The paper relies a lot on psycholinguistic research that you should get somehow acquainted with. There is no assignment for this week, and neither are there any control questions on Moodle or anything else, but throughout the rest of the semester, I will expect you to be familiar with this paper, so please, do read it, and try to think about how the paper squares with the various approaches to morphology that we discussed in the first half of the semester.

    Next week (April 19), you will again find instructions on Moodle, and on April 26, I would like us to meet on Zoom.

  • April 19: Language acquisition

    First, watch this short introductory video on language acquisition and focus especially on what is said about the acquisition of morphology. You should be able to explain a) high amplitude sucking; b) when first words appear; c) one/two word phase; d) the wug test.

    Second, look at this one-minute video of Jean Berko, the author of the wug test, using it, so you get an idea of what it looks like and how it can be used to study the acquisition of derivational morphology (cf. the final example):

    Third, read the part attached of the famous paper by Jean Berko (the full text can be downloaded here if you are interested), the source of the famous wug test. The first five pages describe the methodology, the rest of the pages (i.e., three pages) discuss the results which concern word-formation.

    Finally, have a look at the overview paper on Word-formation in language acquisition; I would like you to read a) section 3; b) section 4.1 (on German) or 4.2 (on English) or 4.3 (on French); and c) section 5. Focus especially on what this tells you about the various approaches to morphology that we've talked about and their plausibility. We will talk about this at the beginning on next week's class.

  • April 26: Neurolinguistics

    Note: next week, see Moodle, and for the last class in two weeks we will again meet on Zoom.

  • May 3: Dyslexia

    First, watch this brief video, which is a nice introduction to dyslexia:

    Notice that dyslexia is said in the video to be "caused by a phonological processing problem." However, quite recently, recognition has been growing that "morphological awareness" might be relevant in dyslexia as well, and, as the paper attached states, morphological awareness "has been found to contribute to reading outcomes and development independently of phonological awareness." Because of this, I would like you to have a look at the paper, and then answer the questions below.

  • May 10: Last week

    I wanted to cover some other topics – e.g., what the research on spelling errors tells us about morphology (see e.g. this paper), or what slips of the tongue may tell us about morphology (see e.g. this open access overview – the whole book might be of interest for you if you are into these sorts of things), or what the approach called Naïve Discriminative Learning tells us about language & morphology (spoiler: it basically claims that no units such as words and morphemes are needed, see e.g. this paper). If you are interested, you are obviously welcome to have a look at these papers, and I can provide some further references.

    Anyway, I was thinking that, given the current circumstances, maybe I do not need to bother you with some extra work at the very end of the semester. So, this week, please focus on a) making sure you have gone through all the materials on moodle, including the exercises (which will be part of your grade) and the assigned readings (the knowledge of which might be required in the final test); b) finishing all the assignments (which will be part of your grade); c) revising for the final test.

    As stated in the syllabus, the final written test has no time limit, you can use your notes etc. However, you should complete the test in one session, and on your own. You can expect some multiple choice questions as well as short answer questions. The test will be available on Moodle from May 17 on, and I think it's in everyone's interest to finish it asap and not postpone it, unless this is really necessary. However, since the course is officially concluded by an exam, you can finish the requirements by September 2022 in theory.

    • Final test