What is Linguistics?

The mighty one creates an extraordinary perfect creature among the other creatures that is called human. Human being has a highly developed brain since Adam who is the first mankind came to the earth. When he was born, God gave him three potential gifts of life in order to live on; they were physical needs, instincts, and mind. Mind as one of three potential gifts that human has; it is a gift that makes human different from other creatures. With this gift makes mankind is able to develop everything that occurred in his life for sake his living. That is a reason why human has been inventing something new time by time.

Language as the most significant part in communication, that is able to connect between the human capacities for culture and language and it has been noted as far back as classical antiquity. On Contemporary Linguistics O’Grady, et al., wrote that:

“Language is many things ─ a system of communication, a medium for thought, a vehicle for literary expression, a social institution, a matter for political controversy, a catalyst for nation building. All human beings normally speak at least one language and it is hard to imagine much significant social, intellectual, or artistic activity taking place in its absence. Each of us, then, has a stake in understanding something about the nature and use of language.”

In Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Hornby stated that “Language is the system of communication in speech and writing that is used by people of a particular country”. Language is a mean of mankind’s communication. There are many different genius unique languages in the world, such as Arabic, Bahasa, Dutch, Japanese, Turkish, Walsh, and English. English is a global language in the world; it is extremely growing and spreading in a whole countries. Except for Japan, because he stated that his strenuous Japanese language makes him as his honor and his personality as Nippon people.

Based on the linguists, language divided into two parts, they are literature and linguistics. Literature, in cultural context, language is studied as the tool of literature’s birth. Literature is the art of written works. On Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Hornby wrote that “Literature is pieces of writing that are valued as works of art, especially novels, plays and poems (in contrast to technical books and newspapers, magazines, etc.)”.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Hornby wrote that “Linguistics is the scientific study of language or particular languages: a course in applied linguistics”.

Linguistics is called Generative Linguistics, studying not also a certain language but pays attention to analyze and comprehend every word, sound, its changes, function and so on in language. That is why linguistics consists of some major aspects of language. Commonly linguistics consists into some major subchapters, the first is anthropological linguistics; the study of the interrelationship between language and culture. Applied linguistics; the application of the methods and result of linguistics in such areas as language teaching.

Also Historical linguistics; the study of how language changes through time: the language’s relationship to each other. Morphology is the study of the way in which words are constructed out of smaller meaningful units.

The Method of the Research

A method that the writer used in this research is descriptive method, regarding in this research the writer analyzes morphology, especially internal change, suppletion, and reduplication. The research describes in morphosemantic analysis of their form, position, function, and meaning as written in the aims of the research.


Morphology is the branch of linguistics that identifying and studying words as grammatical units and word structured that introducing some common morphological phenomenon for modifying of variety of the word’s structure in order to express a new meaning and sign a grammatical contrast, such as internal change that a process in which substitutes one non-morphemic segment to another, suppletion is a morphological process whereby a root morphemes is replacing by a phonological unrelated form for indicating a grammatical contrast, and a process that duplicating part or all of the base to apply for marking a grammatical or semantic contras is called reduplication.

Morphology derived from Greek words: morphe means form and logos means knowledge, and it is concerned with describing and explaining how the words are formed; it is the branch of linguistics that studies word formation and composition is called Morphology. McMannis, et al., (1987:117), in Language Files explains that “The study of how words are structured and how they are put together from smaller part”. Another linguist, Verhaar (2004:97) describes “Morphology is the branch of linguistics that identifies morphemes as grammatical unit”.

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Spencer et al., in The Handbook of Morphology (2001:1) describes that morphology as “… The study of word structure and words are at the interface between phonology, syntax and semantics”. Then O’Grady et al., (1987:132) tell that “The system of categories and rules involved in word formation and interpretation is called morphology”.

Morphology is the analysis, identification, and description of the word structure (words as units in the lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology).

Words and Word Structures

The most reliable defining property of word is that they are the smallest free forms found in language. A free form is an element that can occur in isolation and or whose position with respect to neighbouring elements is not entirely fixed”. (Contemporary Linguistics: 132)

In Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Hornby stated that “Word is sound or combination of sounds that expresses a meaning and forms an independent unit of grammar or vocabulary of a language”. A speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.

Yet word is the smallest of the linguistic units which can occur on its own in speech and writing (Richard et al., 1985:311). Furthermore, word formation is the creation of new words. A word can be stated if that word is in the base form. For example, the word singer® {sing} + {-er}; sing is the base form.

One Morpheme

Two Morphemes

Three Morphemes

Four Morphemes














Figure 2.1 Words Consisting of One or More Morphemes


The traditional term for the most elemental unit of grammatical form is morpheme; from Wikipedia site, it is derived from the Greek word morphe meaning “form”. Britanica Concise Encyclopedia (www.answere.com) described that Morpheme as “The smallest grammatical unit of speech”.

McMannis, et al., (Language Files: 117), wrote that Morpheme is “The minimal linguistic unit has a meaning or grammatical function”. While Lyons states that morpheme is “Such minimal units of grammatical analysis of which words may composed are customarily refered to as morpheme” (Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics: 170).

Morpheme Classification

Morphemes are divided into two basic categories; freestanding word and morphemes that are bound or attached (affixed) to other words. Each of these major categories can be subdivided further into two types, those morphemes that have more lexical content and those that are more grammatical in function. They are divided into two types:

  1. Free Morpheme, is morpheme which can stand alone and it has a meaning. The free morphemes with lexical content represent the major parts of speech, such nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. The free grammatical function morphemes include the minor parts of speech, such articles, preposition, and conjunction, among others. Based on McMannis, et al., (Language Files: 119) free morpheme is “A morpheme which can stand alone as words”; Abdul Chaer’s definiton (1994:151), free morpheme is morpheme that can appear in the pronunciation without the presence of other morpheme.
  2. Bound Morpheme, is the morpheme that cannot stand alone and it has no meaning, but should be bound (attached) to other morpheme to have a meaning. “A morpheme that must be attached to another element”. (O’Grady et al.,1987:134) and McMannis stated that bound morpheme is “The morpheme which are always attached to some other morpheme”. (Language Files: 119)
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Affix is a letter or sound or group of letters or sounds, which is added to a word that changes the meaning or part of speech of the word. (Richards, et al., 1985:7); “Affix is one or more sounds or letters occurring as a bound form attached to the beginning or end of the word base, or phrase or inserted within a word or base and serving to produce a derivative word or an inflectional form”.

Different with roots, affixes do not belong to a lexical category and always bound morphemes. Affixes are divided into three types; prefix is affix added to the beginning of the word/morpheme (such as un-, re-, en-, etc.); infix is affix inserted into two other morphemes (such as in tagalong ®-um, -in, etc.); and suffix is affix added to the ending of the word/morpheme (such as -able, -ness, -ing, -ly)


O’Grady, et al., (Contemporary Linguistics: 137) explains that base is “A base is the form to which an affix is added. In many case the base is also the root”. For example, the word ducks: the element to which the affix –s is added corresponds to the word’s root. Another case, however, an affix can be added to a unit larger that a root which it happens in word blackened that the past tense affix –ed is added to the verbal base blacken –a unit consisting of root the morpheme black and suffix –en.

Common Morphological Phenomena

Mankind’s language makes use of variety of operations or processes that can modify the structure of word, either by adding some element to it or yet by making an internal change, in order to express a new meaning or to mark a grammatical contrast.

1. Affixation

The addition of an affix, a process known as affixation, is common in morphological process in language. Linguist distinguishes the affixation’s process into three types:

  1. Prefix, is word or syllable (e.g. co-, en-, ex-, non-, un-, pre-, re-, etc.) placed in front of a word to add or change the meaning of that word, e. g. en– in enrich. Prefix also means word (e. g. Dr, Mrs, Mr, Sir, etc.) that paced before a person’s name as a title for someone. (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1989:976)
  2. Infix, is a derivational or inflectional affix appearing in the body of word. (Wikipedia-2010). O’Grady et al., (1987:139) stated that “Infix is a type of affix that occurs within a base”. Somehow infixes are rarely pretty hard to find them in English.
  3. Suffix, is letter or group added at the end of a word to make another word, e. g. –y added to rust to make rusty, or as an inflection, e. g. –en in oxen (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1989:1286). Suffix means an affix occurring at the end of a word, base or phrase.

2. Compounding

Words may also be formed by stringing together other words to create compound words (Wikipedia-2010). On Contemporary Linguistics O’Grady, et al., (1987:143), wrote that “Compounding is the combination of lexical categories (nouns, adjectives, verbs, or prepositions) to create a larger word”.

Compounding in English is unlimited, for examples:

Noun + Noun

Adjective + Noun

Verb + Noun

Preposition + Noun


High heels

Swear word



Happy hour





Scrub lady


Figure 2.2 Samples of Compounding

3. Internal Change

On Contemporary Linguistics O’Grady, et al., (1987:141), wrote that “Internal change is a process that substitutes one non-morphemic segment for another”. For example, look at the table below.

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Sing (present)

Sang (past)

Sink (present)

Sank (past)

Drive (present)

Drove (past)

Foot (singular)

Feet (plural)

Goose (singular)

Geese (plural)

Figure 2.3 Internal Change in English

In his book, he divided internal change into:

  1. Ablaut

Ablaut is a systematic variation of vowels in the same root or affix or in related roots or affixes esp. in the Indo-European languages that is usually paralleled by differences in use or meaning. For example, sing (present) ®sang (past); the term ablaut is often used for vowel alternations that mark grammatical contrast in this way.

  1. Umlaut

Umlaut is the change of vowel that is caused by partial assimilation to a succeeding sound or that occurs as a reflex of the former presence of a succeeding sound which has been lost or altered (as to mark pluralization in goose®geese or mouse®mice). Umlaut involves the fronting of a vowel under the influence of a front vowel in the following syllable.

Despite the internal modifications above, the following describes another pattern of internal change (Language Files: 131):

  1. The usual pattern of plural formation that is “To add an infectional morpheme, some English plurals make an internal modification: man but men”.
  2. The usual pattern of past and past participle formation is “To add an affix, but some verbs also show an internal change”; for example: ring, rang, rung; sing, sang, sung, etc.

4. Suppletion

Contemporary Linguistics, (1987:142), explained that “Suppletion is a morphological process whereby a root morpheme is replaced by a phonologically unrelated form in order to indicate a grammatical contrast”.

From Wikipedia confirmed that “In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate”.

Suppletion is the replacement of one stem with another, resulting in an allomorph of a morpheme which has no phonological similarity to the other allomorphs”. The statement took from SIL International.

For an example of this terrific phenomenon in English is the use of went as the past tense form from the verb go, or was and were as the past tense forms from be. In some cases, it is hard to differ between suppletion and internal change as in think (thought) and seek (sought).

5. Reduplication

Another magnificent common morphological process in certain language (but not English) is reduplication which duplicates all or part of the base to which it applies to mark a grammatical or semantic contrast. (Contemporary Linguistics: 143)

The process of reduplication is dividing into two phenomena types that usually are used in English, the first one is full reduplication and another one is partial reduplication.

  1. Full reduplication is the repetition of the entire words. For examples in Indonesian language: orang (man) ®orang-orang (all sorts of men), anak (child) ®anak-anak (all sort of children); it is used to indicate intensity.
  2. Partial reduplication is copies only part of the word. For example in Tagalog language: takbuh (run) ®tatakbuh (will run), lakad (walk) ®lalakad (will walk).

The repeating of parts of words to produce new forms is called reduplication. Producing new coinages have often appeared at times of national confidence; when an outgoing also playful nature is expressed in language, for example during 1920’s following the First World War in which when many nonsense word pairs were coined such as the bee’s knees, heebie-jeebies, etc.

The linguists believe that the introduction of such terms begin with Old English and continues today. Willy-nilly, riff-raff, helter-skelter, arsy-versy (a form of vice-versa), hocus-pocus all date from the 16th century. Today, new coinage word is coming up to date; we have bling-bling, boob-tube and hip-hop. The other example of reduplication are ding-dong, see-saw, tick-tock, zig-zag, blah-blah, bye-bye, choo-choo, chop-chop.

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