My father was quite analytic,
While my mother was polysynthetic.
So my childhood was wrecked,
And I tried to inflect,
But at last I found love with a clitic.
Morpheme-land was invaded one day
And the bound morphemes all locked away:
-ic, -al, -ism and -tion
Found themselves in prison,
’Til the roots came and set them all free.
Now, how to define a morpheme
Is trickier than it may seem.
“A unit of meaning”
Can be rather misleading.
Let’s say it’s just “half a lexeme”.
—Alfred, Lord Deakyson
“There’s a cranberry morph and it’s on the run!
We must capture it! With all speed go get a gun!”
“But it’s easy to find:
It refuses to bind
But with one other morph in the lexicun.”
—Leonardo Deak Vinci
My students can be argumentative,
But became quite alert and attentative
When I told them one day,
“If a verb ends in k,
It might be a fossil frequentative.”
“Well, hello there, Professor Morphology!
Pray tell us your Greek etymology!”
“Well, morph just means ‘shape’
(Face or tectonic plate).
It’s a misleading term; my apology.”
I love teaching cliticisation,
The paragon of affixation.
Its -’s, -’d and -’ll,
And old Wackernagel—
Rank in first (or in second) position.
The mechanics of agglutination
Do not need much elucidation.
Japanese and Korean,
It is simple linguist-ic-ise-ation.
—Gerard Manley Deakins
A Morphosyntactician Retorts
A morphologist screamed in my face,
“I do lexemes; you stick with the phrase!”
I showed him a clitic,
A phrase polysynthetic:
Ah! The morpho-syntax interface!
—Fi F. Lyons