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the smallest unit of language that carries information about meaning or function


the study of the system of categories and rules involved in word formation and interpretation.


speaker's mental dictionary containing information about the syntactic properties meaning and phonological representation of a languages words.

zero morpheme

morpheme without phonological shape. Able to change part of speech w/out affix


alternative form of a morpheme


ways that specific morphemes change--not applying to all sounds


the contrastive segmental unit with predictable phonetic variant


any sound in human language


variants of a phone

contrastive distribution

when sounds occur in the same position and envirtonment in a string of sounds

minimal pairs

a pair of words with distinct meanings that differ by only one segment found in the same position in each form

free variation

the free alternation of and/or phonemes in a given environment

complementary distribution

the distribution of allophones in their respective phonetic environments such as that one never appears in the same phonetic context as the other

natural classes

a class of sounds sharing features or phonetic properties

major classes

large groups of natural classes (ie. vowels)

distinctive features

feature that distinguishes one phoneme from another.


position and effect of stressed syllables: insertion and deletion


words formed by the combination of bound affixes and free morphemes


words formed by the combination of two or more independent words


words formed by doubling on entire word or part of the word (hocus-pocus)


irregular forms by the vowel change; vowel alternation that makes a grammatical contrast (sing/sang)


irregular forms by substitutions (are/was go/went)


compounds that are less than coumpound; created from already existing forms (smoke fog = smog)


removal of redundant part (china)

back formation

subtracting an affix (peddle)

folk etymology

changes based on people's conception of certain words or how the word works

hyper correct

attribution of some form to a particular social group and stats




comes from someone's name


make another language's words your own


content word becomes a funcional word and perhaps a bound suffix (will>residue> i'll)

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