Basic English Syntax with Exercises

derivational morpheme Adjectives

There is some debate about the status of this morpheme which revolves around the central issue of our present discussion. On the one hand, ‑ly might be taken as a derivational morpheme which is applied to a lexical item of one category to derive another lexical item of another category. This would be similar to morphemes such as ‑er in cook‑er, ‑ic as in scen(e)‑ic or ‑ment in govern‑ment. We have not been concerned with such morphemes so far as they tend to be rather restricted, applying to certain lexical items of a given category rather than to the category as a whole. There are, for example, no forms *exister (someone who exists), *viewic (the property of resembling a nice view) or *rulement (the collective body of people who rule). As we have been concerned in using morphological observations for identifying categories, the derivational morphemes would have been only of limited use to us. The important point about derivational morphology is that it takes place in the lexicon, forming new lexical elements from others, prior to any grammatical operation. If ‑ly is a derivational morpheme, then adverbs are a different category from the adjectives they are derived from. However, we have no feature analysis for adverbs using the [F], [N] and [V] features and as we have pointed out we cannot just introduce a new category into the system without there being some fairly substantial consequences. If we introduce a new feature to try to accommodate adverbs, we predict the existence of a further seven more categories for which we have very little evidence.