After analyzing many words morphologically I come across the following three words which I found hard to analyze:


morphs: lingu/ist/ic --> 3 morphs; Would 'lingu' be then a bound lexical morph?

morphemes: [lingua]+[ist]+[ic] --> 3morphemes; Would 'lingua' be the root to use here?


morphs: literary --> 1 morph

morphemes: [literary] --> 1 morpheme?

has aroused

morphs: has/arouse/d --> 3morphs

morphemes: [arouse]+[present perfect] OR [have]+[3rd person]+[sg]+[arouse]+[past participle] Is there such a thing as a present perfect morpheme?

  • 1
    None of these are English words with English morphemes. They're borrowed, already formed, with centuries of derivation and inflection showing on their bones, from Latin and Greek. So English rules don't really apply well. There is a different set of morphemes that attach to classical roots than the set of morphemes that attach to native roots.
    – jlawler
    Jul 10, 2013 at 20:06
  • ahhh... okay, that explains why these words were so hard to analyze. Thanks for that hint! 'arise', however, is of OE origin, right?
    – rena
    Jul 10, 2013 at 20:38
  • 1
    The OED says that diachronically the derivation was linguist+ic=> linguistic. Not sure if we could argue the same derivation synchronically though.
    – Alex B.
    Jul 11, 2013 at 2:25
  • What do you mean by "morphs"? What framework calls them that?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 29, 2014 at 2:44

2 Answers 2


The lingu- part may well be analyzed as a bound root. It depends somewhat on the inclination of the analyst, but for many linguists the presence of the suffix -ist in linguist, where -ist is clearly carrying out its usual function of indicating a person specializing in some field of expertise, is more than enough evidence to show that the word linguist is morphologically complex.

More controversially, the presence of the lingu- morpheme without -ist in words like lingual and sublingual may be further evidence, though there the meaning 'tongue' is far more common than the meaning 'language', so that may be a different morpheme.

I see little evidence to suggest that the root in question is lingua-, since I don't know of any English words where the [a] shows up clearly. (The [a] in lingual comes from the suffix -al.) So I'd argue that the morpheme is just lingu-, and it's a bound root roughly meaning 'language', although as with many bound morphemes, it may enter into complex words whose meanings can't be composed purely from their parts (i.e. morphological idioms).

  • At first I was thinking about regarding 'lingu-' as a bound rood as well. However, then I thought of the compound "lingua franca" where 'lingua' occurs as a free lexical content word and thus was wondering if I could choose 'lingua' as a morpheme here...
    – rena
    Jul 19, 2013 at 19:33

"Lingua franca" is a borrowed phrase from (Medieval) Latin, and best analyzed as only tangentially related to the "lingu-" morpheme that participates in the rest of English morphology.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.