Morphology and Syntax – The Foundation

Question marks

I've had another question come in that's worth answering here on the blog: what are morphology and syntax?

Morphology and syntax are absolutely essential concepts when it comes to language learning. From a structural standpoint, everything in a language will be accomplished through morphology, syntax, or a combination of morphology and syntax.

Morphology is a language's system for using morphemes. It sounds quite technical, but it's actually pretty simple: a morpheme is just the smallest unit of language that has meaning. Sometimes it can be a whole word (like "coat" or "pen") but often a morpheme will not be able to function on its own as a word, but still has meaning (such as the "s" we add to words to make them plural, as in "coats" and "pens").

There are only three kinds of languages in the world morphologically, and the classification depends on how the language combines morphemes or keeps them separate.

Syntax is the other essential component of language structure. It is essentially the order in which elements come within a sentence. In its technical form, syntax is slightly more complex than just "word order," but in most situations you can think of it as being "word order."

So, when it comes to showing relationships between things and actions, a language will do so morphologically, syntactically, or through a combination of morphology and syntax.

These concepts are explored in detail in the Linguisticator video course.

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