The Study of Words : An Introduction book cover
1st Edition

The Study of Words
An Introduction

  • Available for pre-order on March 10, 2023. Item will ship after March 31, 2023
ISBN 9780367466411
March 31, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

The Study of Words introduces the study of word structure, also known as morphology, without assuming any prior knowledge of linguistics. Introducing concepts in an accessible way, Gebhardt illustrates how to understand and produce both existing and new words. This book:

• Provides an overview of words, word components, and the rules by which components can and cannot be assembled into words;

• Introduces the area of morphology with a data-driven approach, exposing readers to sets of words in a variety of languages, and prompting them to identify their components and seek patterns;

• Features exercises and questions throughout to provoke thought and point readers to unresolved morphological issues.

Aimed at students at undergraduate level with no background in linguistics, The Study of Words is essential reading for those studying morphology for the first time as part of linguistics, language and general education courses.

Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations

Glossary of Terms


1 Introduction

1.1 Preliminaries

1.2 Words and Grammar and What We Know About Them

1.3 Knowledge of Language

1.4 Spelling Conventions and the International Phonetic Alphabet

1.5 Presentation of Language Data

1.6 Summary

1.7 Exercises

1.8 Arguable Answers to Exercises

2 The Lexicon

2.1 Preliminaries

2.2 Morphemes and the Lexicon

2.3 Kinds of Morphemes

2.3.1 Free and Bound

2.3.2 Lexical and Functional

2.3.3 Productive and Nonproductive Morphemes

2.3.4 Roots, Stems and Affixes

2.3.5 A Few Other Kinds of Morphemes

2.4 Summary

2.5 Exercises

2.6 Arguable Answers to Exercises

3 Words: What They Are and Where They Come From

3.1 Preliminaries

3.2 What’s a Word?

3.3 So, How Many Words?

3.4 Source of the Lexicon

3.4.1 Early and Later Acquisition

3.4.2 Transmission Across Generations

3.5 What’s in the Lexicon?

3.6 Summary

3.7 Exercises

3.8 Arguable Answers to Exercises

4 Inflectional Morphology

4.1 Preliminaries

4.2 Formation of Wordforms

4.3 Noun Inflections

4.3.1 Number

4.3.2 Gender

4.3.3 Definiteness/Indefiniteness

4.3.4 Case

4.3.5 Pronouns

4.3.6 Portmanteau Inflections

4.3.7 Nonconcatenative Inflection

4.4 Verb Inflections

4.4.1 Agreement

4.4.2 A Few Other Verbal Affixes

4.5 Crosslinguistic Generalizations in Inflectional Morphology

4.6 Summary

4.7 Exercises

4.8 Arguable Answers to Exercises

5 Derivation

5.1 Preliminaries

5.2 Creating Lexemes With Affixes: Case Study With -ness

5.3 Derivational Affixes

5.3.1 Zero Derivation

5.3.2 Other Kinds of Derivation

5.3.3 Iterative Derivation

5.3.4 Derivation in Other Languages

5.4 Compounds

5.4.1 Compound or Phrase

5.5 Incorporation

5.6 Putting Together Derivation and Inflection

5.7 Derivation v. Inflection

5.8 Clitics

5.9 Summary

5.10 Exercises

5.11 Arguable Answers to Exercises

6 Final Comments 




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Lewis Gebhardt is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, USA. As well as teaching morphology for the past decade, his main research interests are syntax, morphology, and semantics.


The Study of Words is an excellent introduction to the field of Morphology. Specifically designed for students with little or no background in linguistics, it is clear and concise in its prose while providing a wide array of examples from a diverse range of languages.

John Boyle, California State University, Fresno, US.

Using a wide array of examples from English and diverse languages around the world, Professor Gebhardt lures the reader into an understanding of major principles of morphology as related to other areas of linguistics. Recommended as an introductory textbook or general resource.

Fred E. Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Kansai University, Japan.