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Beginning to SpellA Study of First-Grade Children$
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Rebecca Treiman

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780195062199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195062199.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

Inflected and Derived Words

Inflected and Derived Words

10 (p.259) Inflected and Derived Words
Beginning to Spell

Rebecca Treiman

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, I discuss the first graders’ spellings of inflected and derived words. The children in this study often misspelled inflected words (Chapter 2). One type of error that has already been documented is the omission of inflectional endings like the /s/ of books (Chapter 8). This chapter considers the children’s spellings of inflected and derived words in more detail. Before beginning the discussion, some definitions and examples are in order. In English, inflections are added to the ends of words to mark such things as tense and number. For example, helped contains the verb stem help plus the past tense inflectional suffix. I refer to the past tense suffix as -D. Helped contains two morphemes or units of meaning, help and -D. The inflected word books also contains two morphemes, the stem book and the plural suffix -Z. As these examples show, the addition of an inflectional suffix does not change a word’s part of speech. Derivations differ in several ways from inflections. For one thing, English derivational morphemes may be either prefixes or suffixes. One derivational prefix is re-, which may be added to the verb read to form reread. Derivational suffixes include -ion and -ly. Unlike inflections, derivations may change a word’s part of speech. For example, the noun vacation is derived from the verb vacate by the addition of-ion; the adjective facial is derived from the noun face by the addition of -ial. The relation in meaning between a stem and a derived form is often less transparent than the relation in meaning between a stem and an inflected form. For instance, one cannot predict the full meaning of vacation from the meaning of its parts. As discussed in Chapter 1, the spellings of inflected and derived words in English often represent the words’ morphemic forms rather than their phonemic forms. For example, the past tense suffix is /t/ in words like helped, whose stem ends with a voiceless consonant, but /d/ in words like cleaned, whose stem ends with a voiced consonant. The phonemic forms of stems, too, sometimes change when inflectional or derivational morphemes are added.

Keywords:   Comparative adjectives, Derived words, Inflected words, Progressive verbs, Superlative adjectives

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