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


Process(s) of Language to become Death (Extinct)

Process(s) of Language to become Death (Extinct)

Written by: Herri Mulyono

In describing the process of language to become death (extinct), I would recall Kershen’s monitoring theory which emerged what is called as language acquisition and language learning (Fenigar and Bersnier, 1989:14-21, Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 14-30) . I believe that the two language acquisition and language learning which is bounded in monitoring theory is fundamental in making a language exists and descends from one generation to generation. In term of keeping the existence of those two language acquisition and learning, it could be assured that a language would never become moribund language or extinct, and vice versa. Concerning to such issue, process of language to become death could be explained by these fundamentals.

Language acquisition explains the unconscious process of acquiring language. This is carried out by regarding four pre-conditions of language acquisition (Richard and Amato, 2003: 19-22); universal grammar, environment, opportunities, and social-being. It is obvious that baby’s brain is not a blank slate as Chomsky argued that “some aspects of language are innate or inborn” (Richard-Amato, 2003: 19). If this step point is used, then, process of language to become death remains impossible as some language properties naturally exist and might be descended by his parents. However, Kreshen’s monitoring theory devises language learning to monitor the acquiring process of a language. Without a process of language learning, one’s acquisition of certain language would never achieve appropriate, acceptable and understandable language which is primary intended to communication tool.

When language learning remains to disappear, then language would be acquired inappropriately. The utterance would be unclear as phonology is not learned. Word and sentence-structure would be arranged in appropriate orders which then cloud meanings as the result. When meaning as basis of language understanding could not be delivered rightly, miscommunication occurs more often that language further is claimed hard to carry out messages. As natural flow, such typical of language then would be neglected and human might find other language which is simpler and easier to use in transmitting ideas, thoughts or particular messages. Such neglect would reason language not to be used, become solely isolated that further result to be moribund language.

Environment in language acquisition preconditions describes the exposure of language in human surrounding or environment. The absence of environment or exposure of language make difficult for human to have model of language in either in oral or written form. This then would cause language not to develop, or if it may develop, it might not to be the language which is supposed to as there would be misspelling, wrong utterance or pronunciation, and much more ungrammatical order that all go to confusion. This confusion, of course, is not the objective of language use and alternatively, human would find other language which suitable for their purposes.

In addition, it is obvious that in language learning, presence of habit as shown in audio lingual method (Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 44-63) is undoubtedly beneficial for language learning as it might activate the language properties into practical use. Limitation of opportunity and to use the language as communication media in social life contributes to deactivation of language competence. Language would not be used as lingua franca or daily life communication tool and lastly come to unwanted situation, endangered language. If such situation is not responded critically by the authority and language user as well, the moribund language as final result of such language would remain incoming.

In sum up, Moribund language would occur when there is no native of the language remain alive and when the language is not used as tool to communicate for certain situations as explained above. Of course, the process of a language to become moribund language would take quire long time and would deal with transmission-gap of language from generation to generation. Finally, I would quote what Salikoko Mufwene (2002) reacts to Moribund language; “Language doesn’t kill language; speakers do.”