Morphology - Unit Two - Lesson No. 11


Discontinuous morpheme

Discontinuous morpheme is a morpheme with multiple parts that occur in more than one place in a word or sentence, e.g. ge- and -t in German geliebt which means “loved” (Fromkin 2007: 544), where ge and t are affixes added to the root leib “love”.

Discontinuous morpheme is, in fact, a circumfix in that it functions and looks like a circumfix. Some authors (Lyons 2003: 123-4) argue the inappropriateness of labeling such forms as discontinuous constituents. According to Lyons, discontinuous constituents have their components separated by a string of one or more forms. He cites as an example the formation of most past participle in German by prefixing ge- and suffixing -t or -en to the appropriate base-form. For instance, sproch (speak) will change into ge-sproch-en (spoken).

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