Contrasting derivational to inflectional morphology

Contrasting Derivational to Inflectional Morphology

Written by: Herri Mulyono

Derivation, which is studied in derivational morphology, could be seen as process of emerging new word by adding affixes on certain stem or basic word. It this general view, derivation is similar to word-formation that affixes might either cause change of word class such as noun to noun, verb into noun, noun to verb, adjective to verb etc. or result to the emergence of new word; semantically or grammatically.

Process of word class changing generally could be viewed on how each affix would function as marker. In derivational morphology, some affixes are introduced in group of noun markers, verb markers, adjective markers, and adverb marker.

In English vocabularies, noun markers are shown in some suffixes like –cy (as in consistency), –ion (as in action), –ty (as in continuity), –ship (as in partnership), –al (as in denial), –er (as in worker), –or (as in corruptor), –ist (as in journalist), –ce (as in confidence), –ing (as in working), –ate (as in decorate), –logy (as in morphology), -0 (as in drum). In addition, noun not only drives from a verb (as in proposeproposal), an adjective (as in sweetsweetness), but also from noun itself (as in company-companion). However, noun could not drive from any adverb.

Verb markers, similar to noun markers, function to change certain word (word class) into new action word (verb). In English verb markers are like –en (as in lighten), -ize (as in characterize), en– (as in endanger), -0 (as in tie). Verb or action word derives particularly from noun (as in joy-enjoy), adjective (as in modern-modernize), and adverb (as in fast-fasten). Although, there are some action words which derive from noun without having them added by any affixes (or marked with zero marking, -0). Those words morphologically have dual grammatical categories; like house (noun) – house (verb).

In relation with the use of adjective, Spears (1991, in Hanafi, 2006: 13) says that adjective function to “modify” and either to make additional or control meaning of noun or nominal. Adjective markers are devised to form adjective from noun (like suffix –ic as in organic, –ous as in nervous, -ing as in ending, –ed as in rejected, –ive as in protective, –al as in instrumental. Similar to noun characteristic, adjective is possible to derive from its class, that is, by adding –ial suffix like confidentconfidential.

Adverb makers in derivational morphology are used to form adverb in modifying verb, adjective or even adverb. In English, -ly suffix (as in clearly), very (as in very clever), and -0 (as in slow) are example of some adverb makers.

In contrast to derivational morphology, an affix in inflection does not change word class rather than it is used merely as a signal of a grammatical property (Spears, 1991 in Hanafi, 2006: 19). Although inflection might provide additional affix on a word base, it does not move the word from certain word class to others. Inflection might exist in some forms dealing with verb agreement, person and number agreement, gender and number of agreement, intensifier, genitive markers and plural markers of nouns.

For example:

a. Verb agreement

Susi come-s to school everyday


b. Person and number agreement

My brother-s are playing in the yard

3PL-brother PL

c. Gender and number agreement

Huma y-jlis-aani fid daaari

Dual male-sit.PRES-DUAL in door

They (two males) sit at the door

d. Intensifiers

He looks very sad

e. Genitive/ possessive markers

Rany’s blackberry


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s