Morphology and Syntax: Tools for Analyzing the World’s Languages

Bickford, J. Albert

“There are thousands of languages in the world waiting to be studied and so many things yet to learn about who we humans are as linguistic creatures. There are also multitudes of places where linguists can make positive contributions among minority language groups, both by collaborating with them in literacy and education and, through research and publication, helping increase the prestige of one of their most intimate possessions: their language” (Introduction).

In this expansion of work by John Daly, Larry Lyman, and Mary Rhodes, Albert Bickford shares his enthusiasm for languages and linguistics with the reader by presenting a practical guide for acquiring skills necessary to analyze the morphology and syntax of languages around the world.

Written in an informal, personal style, this is a practical book for teacher and student alike, a rich storehouse of references and helps in addition to the theoretical content drawn broadly from work within generative grammar. Most chapters begin with a statement of goals and a list of prerequisites for understanding the information contained in them. Examples and explanatory diagrams are distributed liberally throughout the text. The review of key terms, questions for analysis, and sample descriptions which appear at the end of most chapters help the student to apply the theoretical material. References for further reading are provided for those wishing to study further.

About the Author

Dr. Bickford serves in Tucson, Arizona, as a linguistic consultant with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, teaching and advising language workers who are investigating the languages of Mexico. Most summers he teaches the course from which this book developed at the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota, and directs the University’s graduate program in linguistics.

Table of Contents:



  1. Introduction
  2. Standard Grammatical Terminology

Morphology Group 1

  1. Morphemes and Hypotheses
  2. Introduction to Morphology

Syntax Group 1

  1. Introduction to Syntax: Constituent Structure, Syntactic Categories, and Grammatical Relations
  2. The Base: Phrase Structure Rules and the Lexicon
  3. Embedding and Noun Phrase Structure
  4. Verbal Valence: Subcategorization and Selectional Restrictions
  5. Obliques

Morphology Group 2

  1. Inflectional Morphology
  2. Derivational Morphology
  3. Suppletion and Morphophonemics
  4. Nonlinear Affixation

Syntax Group 2

  1. Nonactive Complements
  2. Variable Orders of Constituents
  3. Questions
  4. Commands
  5. Overall Structure of a Grammar

Morphology Group 3

  1. Case and Agreement
  2. Word Division and Clitics
  3. Passive and Voice

Syntax Group 3

  1. Embedded Clauses
  2. Relative Clauses

Practical Helps

  1. Hints for Linguistic Writing
  2. Guide to Writing a Grammar Sketch
  3. Grammar Filing
  4. Lexical Filing


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