‘Morphemes’ and ‘Vocabulary Items’ Distinction in Distributed Morphology: Evidence from Hausa



Isah Abdullahi Muhammad



Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Nigeria








Traditionally, ‘morphemes’ are consisting complex morphophonological properties and syntactic-semantic properties. However, in realizational theories such as Distributed Morphology, which is a syntactic approach to word formation, morphemes are abstract bundle of features without phonological properties, e.g. pl, fem, masc, categorizers (Embick, 2015) etc. Nevertheless, when language assigns phonological properties to those features (namely late insertion), they serve as vocabulary items instead of morphemes. This was confirmed by Marantz (2000:15), who proposed that ‘…we see, overtly, the vocabulary items, not the morphemes.’ Moreover, morphemes are generative and there is no any bound morpheme, all are free (Hankamer & Mikkelsen, 2018). Vocabulary items are not generative but expandable and visibly they can either be free or bound. So this paper intends to elaborate these issues together with evidence from Hausa. The entire paper is divided into following subsections: Introduction, Distributed Morphology, morphemes and vocabulary items in Hausa and their differences, followed by Conclusion remarks.


Distributed Morphology, morphemes, vocabulary items, Hausa


doi: 10.26478/ja2018.6.9.5


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