HOME

TheInfoList




A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which a
prefix A prefix is an which is placed before the of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy'', it creates the word ''unhappy''. Particularly in t ...
or a
suffix In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
can attach. The root word is the primary lexical unit of a
word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many languages, words also co ...

word
, and of a
word familyA word family is the base form of a word plus its inflected forms and derived forms made with affix, suffixes and prefixes plus its cognates, i.e. all words that have a common etymological origin, some of which even native speakers don't recognize as ...
(this root is then called the base word), which carries aspects of
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents.
Content wordContent words, in linguistics, are words that possess semantic content and contribute to the meaning of the sentence in which they occur. In a traditional approach, nouns were said to name objects and other entities, lexical verb, lexical verbs to in ...
s in nearly all
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between self and other, private and public, and ...

language
s contain, and may consist only of, root
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, but a word on this definition alw ...
s. However, sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word without its
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical obj ...
al endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, ''chatters'' has the inflectional root or
lemma Lemma may refer to: Language and linguistics * Lemma (morphology), the canonical, dictionary or citation form of a word * Lemma (psycholinguistics), a mental abstraction of a word about to be uttered * Headword, under which a set of related dict ...
''chatter'', but the lexical root ''chat''. Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense, a root morpheme, may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem. The traditional definition allows roots to be either
free morpheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
s or
bound morpheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
s. Root morphemes are the building blocks for
affixation In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
and
compounds Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
. However, in
polysynthetic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for s ...
s with very high levels of inflectional morphology, the term "root" is generally synonymous with "free morpheme". Many such languages have a very restricted number of morphemes that can stand alone as a word:
Yup'ik The Yup'ik or Yupiaq (sg & pl) and Yupiit or Yupiat (pl), also Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Central Yup'ik, Alaskan Yup'ik ( own name ''Yup'ik'' sg ''Yupiik'' dual ''Yupiit'' pl; russian: Юпики центральной Аляски), are an In ...
, for instance, has no more than two thousand. The root is conventionally indicated using the mathematical symbol √; for instance, the Sanskrit root "" means the root "".


Examples

The root of a word is a unit of meaning (
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, but a word on this definition alw ...
) and, as such, it is an abstraction, though it can usually be represented alphabetically as a word. For example, it can be said that the root of the English verb form ''running'' is ''run'', or the root of the Spanish superlative adjective ''amplísimo'' is ''ampli-'', since those words are derived from the root forms by simple suffixes that do not alter the roots in any way. In particular, English has very little inflection and a tendency to have words that are identical to their roots. But more complicated inflection, as well as other processes, can obscure the root; for example, the root of ''mice'' is ''
mouse A mouse, plural mice, is a small mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which ...

mouse
'' (still a valid word), and the root of ''interrupt'' is, arguably, ''rupt'', which is not a word in English and only appears in derivational forms (such as ''disrupt'', ''corrupt'', ''rupture'', etc.). The root ''rupt'' can be written as if it were a word, but it is not. This distinction between the word as a unit of speech and the root as a unit of meaning is even more important in the case of languages where roots have many different forms when used in actual words, as is the case in
Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia ...
s. In these, roots ( semitic roots) are formed by consonants alone, and speakers elaborate different words (belonging potentially to different parts of speech) from the root by inserting different
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables * ...

vowel
s. For example, in
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, the root ג-ד-ל ''g-d-l'' represents the idea of largeness, and from it we have ''gadol'' and ''gdola'' (masculine and feminine forms of the adjective "big"), ''gadal'' "he grew", ''higdil'' "he magnified" and ''magdelet'' "magnifier", along with many other words such as ''godel'' "size" and ''migdal'' "tower". Roots and
reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
roots can become the tools of
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identif ...
.


Secondary roots

Secondary roots are roots with changes in them, producing a new word with a slightly different meaning. In English, a rough equivalent would be to see ''conductor'' as a secondary root formed from the root ''to conduct''. In
abjad An abjad () is a type of writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to th ...

abjad
languages, the most familiar of which are
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
and
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, in which families of secondary roots are fundamental to the language, secondary roots are created by changes in the roots' vowels, by adding or removing the long vowels ''a'', ''i'', ''u'', ''e'' and ''o''. (Notice that Arabic does not have the vowels ''e'' and ''o''.) In addition, secondary roots can be created by prefixing (''m−'', ''t−''), infixing (''−t−''), or suffixing (''−i'', and several others). There is no rule in these languages on how many secondary roots can be derived from a single root; some roots have few, but other roots have many, not all of which are necessarily in current use. Consider the
Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walter de G ...

Arabic language
: * مركز rkzor arkazameaning ‘centralized (masculine, singular)’, from arkaz‘centre’, from akaza‘plant into the earth, stick up (a lance)’ ( ر-ك-ز , r-k-z). This in turn has derived words arkaziy meaning 'central', arkaziy:ah meaning 'centralism' or 'centralization', and , a:markaziy:ah'decentralization' * أرجح
jh
jh
or a'arjaħameaning ‘oscillated (masculine, singular)’, from urju:ħa‘swing (n)’, from ajaħa‘weighed down, preponderated (masculine, singular)’ ( ر-ج-ح , r-j-ħ). * محور hwror amaħwarameaning ‘centred, focused (masculine, singular)’, from ihwarmeaning ‘axis’, from a:ra‘turned (masculine, singular)’ (ح-و-ر , h-w-r). * مسخر sxr تمسخر amasxarameaning ‘mocked, made fun (masculine, singular)', from مسخرة asxarameaning ‘mockery’, from سخر axira‘mocked (masculine, singular)’ (derived from س-خ-ر -x-r." Zuckermann, Ghil'ad 2003
''Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew''
Houndmills:
Palgrave Macmillan #REDIRECT Palgrave Macmillan #REDIRECT Palgrave Macmillan#REDIRECT Palgrave Macmillan Palgrave Macmillan is a British academic and trade publishing company headquartered in the London Borough of Camden. Its programme includes textbooks, journals, ...
. . pp 65–66.
Similar cases may be found in other
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication u ...

Semitic languages
such as
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
,
SyriacSyriac may refer to: *Syriac language, a dialect of Middle Aramaic * Syriac alphabet ** Syriac (Unicode block) ** Syriac Supplement * Neo-Aramaic languages also known as Syriac in most native vernaculars * Syriac Christianity, the churches using Syr ...

Syriac
,
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
,
Maltese language Maltese ( mt, Malti, links=no) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language derived from Siculo-Arabic, late medieval Sicilian Arabic with Romance languages, Romance superstrata spoken by the Maltese people. It is the national language of Malta and ...
and to a lesser extent
Amharic Amharic ( or ; (Amharic: ), ', ) is an Ethiopian Semitic languages, Ethiopian Semitic language, which is a subgrouping within the Semitic languages, Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amhara pe ...

Amharic
. Similar cases occur in
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
, for example
Israeli Hebrew Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel * Israelis, citizens or permanent residents of the State of Israel * Modern Hebrew, a language * ''Israeli'' (newspaper), published from 2006 to 2008 See also * Isr ...
√m-q-m ‘locate’, which derives from
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
''måqom'' ‘place’, whose root is √q-w-m ‘stand’. A recent example introduced by the
Academy of the Hebrew Language The Academy of the Hebrew Language ( he, הָאָקָדֶמְיָה לַלָּשׁוֹן הָעִבְרִית, ''ha-akademya la-lashon ha-ivrit'') was established by the Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِ ...

Academy of the Hebrew Language
is ''midrúg'' ‘rating’, from ''midrág'', whose root is √d-r-g ‘grade’." According to
Ghil'ad Zuckermann Ghil'ad Zuckermann ( he, גלעד צוקרמן, ; ) is an Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل), officially known as the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, '), is a country in W ...
, "this process is morphologically similar to the production of
frequentative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as w ...

frequentative
(iterative) verbs in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
, for example: * ''iactito'' ‘to toss about’ derives from ''iacto'' ‘to boast of, keep bringing up, harass, disturb, throw, cast, fling away’, which in turn derives from ''iacio'' ‘to throw, cast’ (from its past participle ''iactum''). Consider also
Rabbinic Hebrew Mishnaic Hebrew is a form of the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, ...
√t-r-m ‘donate, contribute’ (Mishnah: T’rumoth 1:2: ‘separate priestly dues’), which derives from Biblical Hebrew ''t'rūmå'' ‘contribution’, whose root is √r-w-m ‘raise’; cf. Rabbinic Hebrew √t-r-' ‘sound the trumpet, blow the horn’, from Biblical Hebrew ''t'rū`å'' ‘shout, cry, loud sound, trumpet-call’, in turn from √r-w-`." and it describes the suffix.


Category-neutral roots

Decompositional generative frameworks suggest that roots hold little grammatical information and can be considered "category-neutral". Category-neutral roots are roots without any inherent lexical category but with some conceptual content that becomes evident depending on the syntactic environment. The ways in which these roots gain lexical category are discussed in Distributed Morphology and the Exoskeletal Model. Theories adopting a category-neutral approach have not, as of 2020, reached a consensus about whether these roots contain a semantic type but no argument structure, neither semantic type nor argument structure, or both semantic type and argument structure. In support of the category-neutral approach, data from
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
indicates that the same underlying root appears as a noun and a verb - with or without overt morphology.
In
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, the majority of roots consist of segmental consonants √CCC. Arad (2003) describes that the consonantal root is turned into a word due to pattern morphology. Thereby, the root is turned into a verb when put into a verbal environment where the head bears the "v" feature (the pattern). Consider the root √š-m-n (ש-מ-נ). Although all words vary semantically, the general meaning of a greasy, fatty material can be attributed to the root. Furthermore, Arad states that there are two types of languages in terms of root interpretation. In languages like English, the root is assigned one interpretation whereas in languages like Hebrew, the root can form multiple interpretations depending on its environment. This occurrence suggests a difference in
language acquisition Language acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language be ...
between these two languages. English speakers would need to learn two roots in order to understand two different words whereas Hebrew speakers would learn one root for two or more words. Alexiadou and Lohndal (2017) advance the claim that languages have a typological scale when it comes to roots and their meanings and state that Greek lies in between Hebrew and English.


See also

*
Lemma (morphology) In morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as ne ...
*
Lexeme A lexeme () is a unit of lexical meaning that underlies a set of words that are related through inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeol ...
*
Morphological typology Morphological typology is a way of classifying the languages of the world (see linguistic typology) that groups languages according to their common Morphology (linguistics), morphological structures. The field organizes languages on the basis of ...
*
Morphology (linguistics) In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
*
Phono-semantic matching Phono-semantic matching (PSM) is the incorporation of a word into one language from another, often creating a neologism, where the word's non-native quality is hidden by replacing it with Phonetics, phonetically and semantically similar words or r ...
*
Principal parts In language learning, the principal parts of a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occu ...
*
Proto-Indo-European root The roots of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented ...
*
Radical (Chinese character) A Chinese radical () or indexing component is a graphical component of a Chinese characters, Chinese character under which the character is traditionally listed in a Chinese dictionary. This component is often a determinative, semantic indicato ...
(this is more based upon a writing system than a spoken language) *
Semitic root The root (linguistics), roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "wikt:radical, radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of ...
*
Word family A word family is the base form of a word plus its inflected forms and derived forms made with suffixes and prefixes plus its cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system ...
*
Word stem In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many languages, words also corres ...


References


External links


Virtual Salt Root words and prefixes


{{Authority control Lexical units Linguistics terminology