I have this idea in my head that when it comes to morphemes, there are two divisions at the top: "semantical morphemes" and "functional morphemes". Semantical morphemes are those that just carry a meaning, like auto, super, tract, etc. Functional morphemes are affixes that don't have a meaning, but rather a function: they modify the word. For example, the adjective stupid can be made into a noun by using a functional morpheme, of which there are to options for the word stupid; -ity and -ness. Other examples of functional morphemes include -uous/ous, -ism, -ion and many more.

They don't carry any semantical meaning (at least in my understanding), they just take the root and transport it into another word class.

Is this conceptual approach to the subject linguistically sound? Are these perhaps terms actually used?

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    The usual term is lexical, not "semantic" morphemes. But you're right about the distinction. It's very clear in English; since we have so little morphology compared to other I-E languages, our grammar is mostly syntax, and those little words like articles, quantifiers, prepositions, and auxiliaries are part of the grammar. Like gearwheels inside a clock rather than numbers on its surface. You can look up lexical morphemes in a dictionary, but looking up function words is a waste of time.
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 18:13


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