Some of the typical differences between inflectional and derivational morphology.
Derivational morphology changes one word into another, often changing it into a word of a different category. It tends to be irregular, both by being less productive than inflectional morphology and by lacking paradigms. Derivational morphology tends to have lexical meaning, while inflectional morphology has grammatical meaning (grammatical categories).
F. Stem versus roots
STEM and ROOT are used to refer to the ‘base’ of a word. The part to which affixes attach. The distinction between them is based on the distinction between inflectional and derivational.
Consider a word like ‘kickers’, it contains two suffixes, one derivational (-er), the other inflectional (-s). strip both affixes off and you are left with kick, which we call a ROOT. Add back on the derivational suffix –er and you get kicker, we call the STEM.
More generally, a root is any single morpheme which is not an affix. Normally, you can find a root by removing all the affixes (both derivational and inflectional) from a word. The stem of a word, on other hand, is found by removing all the inflectional affixes, but leaving any derivational affixes in place.
A root is always a single morpheme. A stem on the other hand, may consists of more than one morpheme. Many stems, like cat consists of only a single root. The stem and the root are identical.
and stem may contain more than one derivational affix, as in interlinearizer (a type of computer program that is used by linguists for inserting interlinear word-by-word or morpheme-by-morpheme glosses in a text)
thus, a stem consists of one or more roots, plus zero or more derivational affixes. A root, in contrast, is always a single morpheme.
All stems serve as the base to which inflectional affixes attach. So, for example, all the nouns mentioned above have plural forms.
More differences between inflection and derivation
One may be obvious from the examples so far. Derivational morphology normally occurs ‘inside’ inflectional morphology, that is, closer to the root. It is as if compounds are formed or derivational affixes are added before adding the inflectional affixes.
Recall that derivational morphology tends to have lexical meaning, while inflectional morphology has grammatical meaning. That is, the meaning of a derivational affix is often rich and complex, while the meaning of an inflectional affix is usually simple, often consisting of just a single abstract grammatical category. There is another side to the meaning of derivational morphology: the meaning of a derived word is often not fully predictable from the meaning of the morphemes involved. For example, a noun which is derived from a verb plus the –(e)r suffix generally refers to either the agent of the action or to the instrument.
10 Agent: teach-er, lead-er, follow-er, greet-er
Instrument: eras-er, compute-r, amplify-er, elevat-or
And, exactly which person or object is denoted by the derived form is unpredictable. For example, computer and calculator cannot be used interchangeably—they refer arbitrary to distinct tools—even though both tools are used to compute and calculate. Finally, who could have guessed that a twist-er is a type of storm?
In semantics, when the meaning in the whole is not fully predictable from the meaning of its parts, we say that the meaning is CONVENTIONALIZED. One characteristic of derivational morphology is that its meaning is often conventionalized, while the meaning of inflectional morphology is almost always fully predictable. This suggests that in a formal grammar, derivational morphology should be handled in the lexicon (where we place most idiosyncratic facts about elements of the language), while inflectional morphology can be handled by rules outside of the lexicon.
The characteristics in (11) should not be applied rigidly; sometimes they will seem to conflict with each other. For example, although derivational morphology often results in a change of syntactic category, this is not always true. Consider view-point again. It is a compound noun consisting of two nouns. The process of compounding has produced a word that is in the same syntactic category as the words it is made up of. Or, consider the suffix un-, as in un-kind, which takes an adjective and turns it into another adjective. These clearly derivational processes, because they involve lexical meaning which is conventionalized, they are not very productive, and they are not paradigmatic. Yet, they do not change syntactic category.
Sometimes, too, derivational morphology changes only the subcategory of a word. For example, in many languages, there are CAUSATIVE affixes that change intransitive verbs to transitive.
Relevance to syntax
(13) Inflectional morphology is what is relevant to the syntax.
That is, inflectional morphology is sensitive to the larger syntactic context in which it occurs, while derivational morphology is not. To study it, you have to pay attention to other words in the sentence , while derivational morphology can be studied within a single word. Inflectional morphology is syntactic morphology. To see what this means, let’s consider some examples.
Person and number in English are inflectional, because there is a rule in English which requires the verb to AGREE in person and number with the subject. That is, when you change the number (14) or person (15) of the subject, the morphological form of the verb must also change.
(14) a. A vulture soars more that it flies.
b. Vultures soar more that it fly.
(15) a. I am vivacious.
b. You are vivacious.
c. he is vivacious.
This phenomenon is called AGREEMENT. Agreement morphology is relevant to the syntax because, in order to choose the right form of the verb, you have to look to another part of the sentence. According to (13), whenever you find agreement in a language, you know you are dealing with inflectional morphology.
The form of pronouns in English changes depending on whether they are used as subjects, objects, or possessors.
(16) a. I see an elephant.
b. The elephant sees me.
c. It wants my apple.
Derivational morphology in a formal grammar
In our grammars, we have incorporated the idea that inflectional morphology is relevant to the syntax by handling it with rules that are intermixed with syntactic rules. At first, inflectional affixes are represented in trees only by these inflectional features. The phonological form of these affixes are supplied later by inflectional spellout rules.
Derivational morphology, on the other hand, is idiosyncratic and irregular and thus appears to belong in the lexicon. The meaning of a compound word or a word containing a derivational affix is often not fully predictable from the meanings of the morphemes in the word.
Lexical entries for derived words
Many lexical entries contain more than one morpheme. The category Adv in English contains many words derived from adjectives with the derivational affix –li, as well as adverbs that consist of a single root.
Consider the word inter-line-ar-ize-r, the four derivational affixes are attached to the root in definite sequence.
(22) a. line
each affix adds a new element of meaning and produces a new word, which requires its own lexical entry.
Since all derivational morphology is listed in the lexicon, this means that the lexicon is primarily a list of stems. It is not a list of morphemes, because some lexical entries contain more than one morpheme, derivational affixes are not listed in separate lexical entries, and inflectional affixes are not included at all.
It is commonly assumed in much work in Generative grammar today that derivational morphology is handled within the lexicon. What is generally true of these approaches, however, is the assumption that derivational affixes are handled completely in the lexicon, are already present on a word before it is inserted in a tree, and that derivational morphology is thus independent from syntax. This assumption is generally known as the LEXICALIST HYPHOTHESIS.
Internationalizing : inter + nation + al + iz + ing