Allomorphy

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Allomorphy is the phenomenon that a single morpheme has different realizations, i.e. alternative forms depending on the phonological or morphological context in which it appears. In another type of allomorphy, the realization of a morpheme is conditioned by the presence of another morpheme.

Examples

In English, the plural suffix has three pronunciations:

(a) /s/ after nouns ending in a voiceless consonant (cats /kats/),

(b) /z/ after nouns ending in a voiced consonant (dogs /dogz/), and

(c) /ɪz/ after nouns ending in a coronal sibilant (horses /horsɪz/).

The English suffix -able is pronounced /ɪbl/ in adjectives such as possible and probable, but when the noun-forming suffix -ity is attached to it it is pronounced as /ɪbil/ (possibility, probability).

Link

Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics

References

  • Aronoff, M. 1976. Word Formation in Generative Grammar. MIT-press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Scalise, S. 1984. Generative Morphology. Foris, Dordrecht.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory. Blackwell, Oxford.