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Morpheme – Phoneme Relationship

Morpheme – Phoneme Relationship


The consciousness that explains the relationship between morphology and phonology is a topical issue in modern linguistics, with proponents objecting the correlations and activists supporting the interconnection; however, the important notion of the conviction relays upon the linguistics organization models. Morphology, in this case, is inferred to the structure, and form of words that relate to the meanings of the word while phonology in a language assumes to the generalization of sound patterns in words. The morpheme-phoneme relationship has attracted many linguistics researchers such as; William Pike to try and justify the relationship or establish the existence of a borderline on morphology and phonology integration (Don, 2014).

Nonetheless, the transformational grammar development, specifically on generative phonology classical models has authenticated the justifications of the relationship by laying emphasis on the morphological influence to the rules of language. Hence, it is imperative to assert that the morphological structure of words considerably alters the word’s pronunciation. Moreover, the features compounding morphological structures allow the expansion of word meaning, the opportunity to coin different words, and the preface of syntactic features during pronunciation. Considerably, there is a definite correlation between morphology and phonology. Therefore, this paper will review extensively analysis the variable that justifies the morphophonemic correlation by explaining their types, and the morphophonemic rules governing affix, as well as the tone (Embick, 2010).

Morphophonemic Rules

To better understand the compounding relationship that exists between morphology and phonology, it is imperative to examine the regulations surrounding morphophonemic. These rules are the alteration that occurs in word structures and contents of phonology, such that the two linguistic modules can adapt to the functions of grammar. For example the manipulation of word roots can help in obtaining different grammatical formats as in this case; the word “malice” can be altered to “malicious” by adding the morphological structures “ous” at the end. While the word “contrite” can likewise be amended by adding “ION” to form the word “contrition.”

Further the rules similarly integrate the lexical terms with mutual linguistic effects to transform affix or influence the base of words. Therefore, the morphophonemic rules are important determinants to justify the correlation between the two linguistic modules of morphology and phonology that shape grammatical affix in words. These rules influence the affix in three distinctive modes including assimilation, dissimilation, and synthesis (Mohr 2014).

Morphophonemic Guidelines

The term morphophoneme belongs to the node relating both morphology and phonology of both readings as well as speaking. As a result, the grammatical connotation within the morphemes helps in indicating substantiality of morphological variations. The abstract nature which has changed the way in which the language is realized. As a result, when the form of the concrete understandings indicates a variation in the grammatical system that is to say “meaning.” Therefore, morphophonemic reviews are used in the expression of different categories within the spheres of grammar. The phenomenon about morphemes, in this case, is detectable from other environments. In other languages, the phonological atmosphere takes different grammatical shapes that have either singular or plural nominative structures as well as others being vocative.

The rules of morphological changes occur in the essential content of the phonologies so that morphemes have the ability to adapt to the changing grammatical functionality or categorization. As such, it is imperative for a root in a word to undergo transform so that there is the difference in speech. By adding the “ION” and the “OUS” suffixes provides a different grammatical form;







Among English speakers and other linguists, the grammatical and philological units that interact so that there is a mutual effect in the process of word building. In most cases the base of the word will have a stronger impact more than the affix; hence, the affix will experience a formal alteration. Therefore, the relationship between morphemes and phonemes is influenced by the morphophonemic rules, which can either affect either the affix or the base depending on what is added (Harrington, 2014).

Complete Assimilation

In English, the morphemic transformation of words occurs affects the prefixal consonants of the morpheme. The process having this change is known as absorption where the morpheme transforms into an identical phoneme with the beginning of the phoneme acting as the word root. Within the phonological process of wording, the assimilation takes place in two different locations at the start and the end of the term. In a complete assimilation, it is noticeable that the sound of the assimilated word makes the same sound like the one it assimilates.

For instance, the word “horse” and “horse-shoe” can have the “s” sound absorbed by the “sh” sound of the word “shoe”. Therefore, once it is spoken the sound “s” is left out of the pronunciation.




Partial Assimilation

Partial assimilation is more influential in the English language most especially during a speech than complete assimilation which occurs in diminutive moments. However, it is unnoticeable unless one pays attention to whatever is being said. During a partial address, the assimilated sound is similar to the final sound, but due to adjustment, it takes on a sound of another. For instance, the word “chalk”, the ‘l’ is devoiced due to the effect of the assimilated voiceless consonant ‘k.’ In English most devoiced, phonemes are not considered to be the perfect sound of the voiced phonemes. Therefore, in morphology and phonological speech, different consonants take various voicings due to assimilation.





For one to understand the morphological relationship between morphemes and phonemes, first there must be understanding of both assimilation and dissimilation. In this process, two phonemes come together to form different morphemes with the first prefix and root the most affected with both no longer having a similar phoneme as the first one experiences a complete change. The occurrence of this to uniquely identify the morpheme, however, there may be different word articulation as well as having a change of the sound and the quality. Although the change in the morphemes is visible among the phones, the sound of the dissimilated sounds is completely different as seen below;



Synthesis of Morphophonemic Rules

In English, the combination of two different grammar consonants to make one word from two separate entities is referred to as palatalisation. For this phenomenon to occur, two morphemes must meet in a derivative taking into consideration the last consonant that changes the formation of the velar and other initials. In a palatial morpheme, the sound ‘j’ is always entangled in the combination. For example;





The Voicing of Sounds

As the morphemes take on the meaning structure and the phonemes the consonant composition of the morphemes, each word gets a different voicing with many sounds left out during pronunciation. The change in the phonemic attributes of the base undergoes a transformation once an affix or prefix is attached. During the change, the last consonant making the base is transformed to resemble the opening phoneme connected to the affix. The occurrence emanates from the situation involving a noun constituting of a plural suffix that is integrable with a nominal base. As a result, the pronunciation of many plurals will have a voiced ‘z’ making a strong presence, especially at the end of many nouns and this influence is more prevalent among interdental and labiodental consonants.

Example: CALF > CALVES




However, not all rules apply in most cases as the phonologies may have different morphemes that have no similarities that can affect the final consonants.

Morpheme integration into the production of phonology

There is a definite link between morphology and phonology during the pronunciation of words as opposed to written words. First, the phonological processing outputs are determined by a combination of lexical representations in morphology. These lexical integrations from multiphonic words are the basis used to determine a suitable phonological sound representation during the conception of words. For instance on the chance that the word structure (morphine) “rat “and letter “S “are used to compound a word, the phonology sequence which are; /kæt/ and /s/ have to be integrated to produce a subsequential sound during pronunciation. Such an integration of morphology into phonetical production defiantly manifests a position of segmental information in a morphemic environment. For example, the Letter “k” is integrated into the pronunciation of the word “cloth”; however, the letter is imperatively silent on initial-word position when pronouncing the words “tablecloth”. Whatever, the situation of letters in such words, it is imperative that the morphemes determine the downstream process of word operation. Therefore, the lexical combinations of morphologies in word positions to determine not only the word production but also influence the pronunciation.

Branching Paths

When one considers combinations regarded in various corpora today, the tiers have been piled up in layers on top of each within a single vertical path. It implies that a tier has at best one guardian and at most one child. On the contrary, there are some types of annotation structures which cannot be depicted in this format. For that reason, as an illustration, one should consider the relationship between several tiers beneath the level of the word in the German language. Never the less, it would seem reasonable to state that words like phonemes and morphemes stand in a hierarchical interaction with each other because a nutshell is composed of one or more morphemes, each of which consists of one or several morphemes. Therefore, kindest (childish) apparently is made up of a series of sequences of two morphemes,-isch and kind, which altogether maps onto its constituent phonemes.

Analogously, syllables, words, and phonemes also take their place in hierarchical relationship integration to each other. On the whole, it appears that there are different alternatives to parsing the same phoneme strings into words: either as syllables kin.disch a morphemes kind+isch. However, in this case, one would ask themselves what the structural relationship between syllables and morphemes is in the particular case above. Again, it ceases to be hierarchical because a morpheme is clearly not comprised of singular or more syllables. For that reason, the first morpheme kind is composed of the first syllable but only as a fragment of the second. Never the less, while a syllable is also clearly consisting of one or more morphemes (the syllabi that comes second consists of the second morpheme that is predated by only a fragment of the first. Alternatively, the relationship that exists between the morphemes together with its allomorphs is in most cases regarded simple.

Types of Phonetic Transcription

Phonetic transcriptions are vital in English dictionaries since the spelling of words do not educate the readers on how it should be pronounced. At the same time, phonetic transcriptions are in most cases jotted down in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) Phonetic symbols are used to write down speech sounds accurately. Again, both the process of jotting down spoken language in this format and the consequential written material are referred to as phonetic transcriptions. For that reason, we can deduce that the terminology difference found between the adjectives phonemic and phonetic or phonological is on most occasions observed in vain; again phonetically is on some occasions employed generically. Remarkably, the concept becomes real for the terms phonemic transcription and phonetic transcription, though there is a difference lying between the two that is worthy viewing (Matushansky & Marantz 2013).

Phonetic Transcription Proper

Narrowly, a phonetic transcription aims to represent actual speech sounds. That is correct utterances of a particular speaker on a certain occasion. For that purpose, it accomplishes that with a high level of accuracy, depicting a lot of articulatory details. This type of transcription is also referred to as narrow transcription. On different days, it can also be known as impressionistic transcription or taken to be objective because the transcriber just jots down what they hear. For all that, it takes the place of phonetic transcription proper because it represents spoken language at the phonetics level through an enormous range of symbols used in allophones or phones. For that reason, the transcribed text is therefore enclosed in square brackets. At length, minor alterations to the expected value of a phonetic sign can be marked by diacritics, revealing such processes as voicing, devoicing retraction and fronting. Examples of phonetic word transcriptions with a certain degree of accuracy are (kc: b) for cord (Ansaldo, Don, & Pfau 2010).

Phonetic transcription

On the other hand, a phonetic transcription aspires to stand in for abstract speech sounds that are idealized assertions complying with a speech community’s shared knowledge of the sound system of language. With a moderate degree of accuracy, depicting only those articulatory concepts that can differentiate meaning, for instance only the distinctive features. Subsequently, this kind of transcription is also known as broad transcription. The transcriber in this scenario does not jot down what they hear, but what they would prospectively hear. Again, it is best known as a phonemic transcription (phonematische umschrift) or a phonological transcription (phonologische umschrift) due to the fact that it stands in for spoken language when it is at the level of phonology. Through phonetic symbols that are regarded to represent phonemes, and are therefore better considered as phonemic symbols.

On the whole, the transcribed text is enclosed in slashes,//.Clearly, ignored entirely are the allophonic variation, and again, the only mark attached to phonemic symbols is the length mark (that is not taken as a diacritic in IPA terminology). For instance cat vs. tat can be illustrated as /Kæt/ vs. /tæt/ (Embick 2013).

Broad phonetic transcription: An intermediate type

For purposes of teaching and learning English pronunciation, the phonetic transcription proper shows so many refined details while a phonetic transcription usually does not seem detailed enough. Without a doubt, it is now used customary for pedagogic purposes in employing an intermediate form of transcription that is widely phonemic but reveals a variety of more articulatory details. For example, it shows linking r-sounds, stress, and syllabic consonant. Accordingly, it does not demonstrate allophonic variations caused by factors like voicing, devoicing retraction and fronting. Nonetheless, this kind of transcription is known by scholars as broad phonetic transcription. Again, although it is majorly phonemic, the readers cannot employ the word phonemic in the label because two of the symbols that are popularly used are not phonemes of English. Eventually, the transcribed word should be wrapped in square brackets. On the whole, a broad phonemic transcription is employed in the majority of University courses in the field of phonology and phonetics. For example, if words like [kΛt] cut. [siys] and [stk] sick. From these examples, one can see that the phonetics can be spelled in a number of ways and that the letter in question ‘c’ in spelling may have a number of phonetic realizations. On the whole, the example [baks] box goes ahead to make the point that one needs to be cautious of not inadvertently importing English orthography into phonic transcriptions (Matushansky & Marantz 2013).

Morphemes and Phonemes

A morpheme in language is the smallest unit in grammar. It is as well the smallest unit which is meaningful in a language meaning that it cannot be separated into more units that are meaningful. Notably, not all morphemes are, however, a morpheme can be a word. There are two categories of morphemes, and they include; bound morphemes and free morphemes. Free morphemes are those that can stand alone, with a particular meaning. Therefore, they can act as words, for example, dish, yes, dog, run, cow, event, ship among others. However, it should be noted that not all these morphemes can be words. On the other hand, bound morphemes are those that cannot stand alone. They are only certain parts of a word which mean that they cannot be used alone since they won’t have any meaning. Notably, most of these morphemes in the English language are known as affixes. Therefore, they can only be used after or before the base word. Affixes that go after a base are known as suffixes while those that come before are called prefixes.

A phoneme in speech is the smallest unit of sound that has got no inherent meaning. They help to distinguish words from one another. For example, mat and bat are different words because they have different phonemes «m» a «b». Moreover, it is possible to segment words in order to recognize the phonemes in those words. Notably, there are around forty-four phonemes in the English language because of the twenty-six letters. For example, the phoneme ‘f’ can be pronounced using letters ph or ff and f. Furthermore, there are several ways to spell a phoneme, and these are called allophones. These do not alter the meaning of a word because they are not phonemes. Notably, allophones usually come up with people’s various accents. One of the best examples is the letter ‘t’. Some people would pronounce it as ‘r’ and others as ‘t’. Here these two letters are allophones of a similar phoneme.

Morphophonemic Orthography Context

Letter ‘S’ as an English plural morpheme is written in the same way despite how it is pronounced: dogs, cats. Moreover, the English orthography to some extent reflects the etymology of its words; therefore, it is partially morphophonemic. Therefore, it not only explains dogs ‘z’ and cats ‘s’, but sign ‘sain’ and signature ‘sign’ as well. However, most orthography only reflects active morphology such as dogs and cats, or loaded and chased. Notably, German and Turkish possess writing systems that are broadly phonemic, however, while Turkish is entirely phonemic, only, transcribing surface phonemes, German is morphophonemic, and transcribes for the underlying phonemes. For instance, German has the same relationship between’ and ‘t’. However in Turkish when a base which ends with ‘d’ appears with no corresponding vowel, it becomes a ‘t’, and it is reflected in the pronunciation of ‘eti, et, edir.’


Morphophonemic rules occur when there are changes in the structures of the words and the contents of phonology. In the same way, the rules merge the exact terms with mutual linguistic effects to impact the base words. Moreover, the rules of morphological alteration occur in the important content of the phonologies so as the morphemes to have the ability to get used to the changing grammatical categorization. Therefore, there is a definite relationship between phonology and morphology when spelling or pronouncing words as opposed to the written words. This is because the lexical combinations of morphologies in the position of words to determine not only the production of words but also affect their pronunciation.


Ansaldo, U., Don, J., & Pfau, R. (2010) Parts of speech: Empirical and theoretical advances. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company

Don, J. (2014) Morphological theory and the morphology of english. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Embick, D. (2013) The morpheme: A theoretical introduction. Berlin: De Gruyter

Harrington, J. (2014) Phonetic Analysis of speech. New York. Collins Press

Matushansky, O. & Marantz, A. (2013) Distributed morphology today. Massachusetts: MIT Press

Mohr, S. (2014) Mouth actions in sign languages: An empirical study of irish sign language. Berlin: De Gruyter