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The Problem of Defining Word - Coursework Example

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The author of this coursework "The Problem of Defining ‘Word’" describes difficulties of defining the term ‘word’. This paper outlines different concepts of "word", features of desperate morphemes and lexemes, the main problems of defining the "word"…
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The Problem of Defining Word
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Download file to see previous pages Linguists have always struggled with the definition of the term ‘word’. “No one has ever been able to define the word despite gargantuan efforts to do so. The linguistic concept of a word: an analytic bibliography by Alphonse Juilland and Alexandra Roderic is a 118-page bibliography of books and articles (unsuccessfully) attempting to define word over the past 3 millennia. Why can no one define the word? Maybe because words simply do not exist; rather, the sentences we speak are composed of lexemes and morphemes and these two linguistic objects differ too much to be subsumed under one concept.” (Dr. Goodword’s Office)
The smallest meaning-bearing elements of language are termed as morphemes. In any language, morphemes mark the crucial categories of grammar such as progressive aspect, plural number, past tense, negation, definite, possession, etc. Morphemes can be defined in a language-independent manner. However, it is to be borne to find that no adequate language-independent definition of the word as a unit has been agreed upon (Karlsson, 1998, p. 83). Prepositions, prefixes such as’, ‘ex’, and ‘un’, suffixes such as ‘ing’, ‘s’ and ‘ed’, and particles like ‘the’, ‘not’, and ‘so’ would fall in the category of morphemes. Lexemes, on the other hand, are anything that is used in speech to name or refer to things in the real world. Nouns, verbs, and adjectives would, therefore, fall in the category of lexemes.
Words are defined as orthographic units in the printed or visual form. An orthographic word is a sequence of signs, symbols, or letters that has white space at either end but no white space in the middle. This is a rather visual definition of ‘word’ and has no existence in speech or audio form of the language. Orthographic words run into problems with compounds. ‘Rooftop’ can also be written as rooftop, and roof-top. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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