Simply put, Morphology is the study of the words in a language.
It does go deeper, but generally speaking it studies and looks at language in terms of:
- part of speech
- etymology (and obsolete usages)
- non-standard or slang/taboo usage
Importantly morphology looks at the way in which words are formed and their parts: morphemes, affixes and so on.
Questions which Morphology Asks
Morphology overlaps with other linguistic disciplines, but if ever you were to stumble upon a group of morphologists in earnest discussion they could well be asking and answering questions like these:
- Is there a rule for which country adjectives end in -ish (Swedish, English) or -ese (Burmese, Chinese)?
- What is a word? If I use a made-up word like morriconisation then because I’ve used it at least once, does that mean it’s a word now?
- Why doesn’t sheep have a plural?
- If faster means more fast; then why doesn’t better mean more bet? Isn’t bet the same as good?
- Why don’t we get paid more?
What is a Morpheme? – a look at morphemes, the building blocks of words