My 16 year old is reading linguistics books from public library. Please simplify the distinction between Morph vs. Morpheme?
Lieber doesn't even define Morph. Rochelle Lieber, Introducing Morphology 2010 1st ed, p 202. Our library doesn't have the latest 3rd edn.
We tried library's two other books on morphology, but we're still wildered.
morph The smallest grammatically significant part of a word. Generally used to refer to the form itself rather than to a set of forms with meaning and function.
morpheme A word or a meaningful piece of a word that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. Examples include school, read, or the re- and -ing of rereading.
Kirsten Fudeman, What is Morphology? 2011 2nd ed. p 266.
morph: a concrete primitive element of morphological analysis.
morpheme: the smallest meaningful part of a linguistic expression that can be identified by segmentation; a frequently occurring subtype of morphological pattern (Section 1.1).
Martin Haspelmath, Understanding Morphology 2010 2nd ed. pp 334-5. Library hasn't bought 2023 3 ed.
The terms morph, morpheme, allomorph are constructed by analogy to phone, phoneme, allophone. A phone is a speech sound; a phoneme is a group of allophones (which are phones) that constitute a single sound in a particular language variety. Thus the phoneme /t/ in English has several allophones, including aspirated, unaspirated, and unreleased versions; in other languages, these phones may go unused, or represent two or even three different phonemes.
Similarly, a morph is a root or affix or other component part of a word (including in some cases a whole word); a morpheme is a group of allomorphs (which are morphs) that represent a single meaning in a particular language variety. Thus the indefinite-article morpheme in English has two allomorphs, a and an, and the plural morpheme hs [typo for has] many allomorphs: s, which can be represented by any of three phonemic shapes, and various irregular allomorphs including change-of-vowel (foot/feet) and zero (sheep).
Associate Prof. Richard DeArmond1's chart addles us! Why's it comparing both the "s, en" morphs? Shouldn't these two morphs be listed separately? They clearly communicate different morphemes! For one, solely "s" is a possessive morpheme, not "en"!