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An Introduction to English Morphology

Words and Their Structure (2nd edition)

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy

Edition: 2

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Bestselling introduction to English morphology, now revised and updated

What exactly are words? Are they the things that get listed in dictionaries, or are they the basic units of sentence structure? Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy explores the implications of these different approaches to words in English. He explains the various ways in which words are related to one another, and shows how the history of the English language has affected word structure.

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1. Introduction

2. Words, sentences and dictionaries

3. A word and its parts: roots, affixes and their shapes

4. A word and its forms: inflection

5. A word and its relatives: derivation

6. Compound words, blends and phrasal words

7. A word and its structure

8. Productivity

9. The historical sources of English word formation

10. Conclusion: words in English and in languages generally

Discussion of the exercises; Glossary; References


About the Author

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy is a professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand where he teaches linguistics. He studied at Oxford, MIT, and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he gained his PhD. His previous books are Allomorphy in Inflexion, Current Morphology and The Origins of Complex Language.


I’m delighted to see this classic textbook updated and improved to bring Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy’s learned but easily approachable text to new generations of students. Carstairs-McCarthy has a knack for making theory comprehensible and for providing apt examples to illustrate his points.

- Professor Laurie Bauer, University of Wellington

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