Difference Between Phonology and Morphology

Phonology vs Morphology

The difference between phonology and morphology is very easy to understand if one can remember that phonology deals with sounds and morphology deals with words.  The terms, phonology and morphology, are from the Linguistics subject field. Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It deals with the phonological, morphological, syntactical and semantic areas in languages and this is a very famous subject area. Phonology and morphology are some of the main sub branches in Linguistic analysis of languages. Phonology is the study of sounds and sound systems in languages. Morphology mainly deals with the words in a language. Both these subject areas are important in analyzing a language. Let us look at the two terms, Morphology and Phonology, and the difference between them in detail.

What is Phonology?

Phonology mainly deals with the sound system of language. It considers how sounds in languages are organized systematically in languages. All the words we pronounce in languages are systematic combination of sounds. There are more than 5000 languages around the world and these languages have different sound combinations. Phonology studies of these various combinations.

Word in any language conveys a linguistic meaning and the words have been formed with a collection of sounds. However, sounds cannot be joined randomly. There are rules and possibilities in all the languages concerning the sound arrangements. Phonology studies of these various rules and patterns. It gives a scientific explanation on how sounds function within a language, encoding different meanings. Moreover, linguists regard Phonology to be belonged to theoretical linguistics. Phonology does not focus only on sound systems, but also it focuses on syllable structure, tone of speech, accent, stress and intonation, etc., which are known as suprasegmental features in a language. Further, Phonological studies have their focus on sign language as well.

What is Morphology?

Morphology is the study of words or morphemes, the smallest units in a language. Every language has its own system of sound combinations and theses sounds together form a word. Morpheme is known as the smallest unit in a particular language. While sounds join to make words, words connect to form phrases or sentences. Words play an important role in any language and linguists have defined words in many ways.

According to the famous linguist, Leonard Bloomfield word in the minimal free unit. In morphology, we study all these theories and concepts and try to analyze the word and functions of a word. Morphology does not limit itself to the words only. It also studies the affixes (prefixes and suffixes), parts of speech, intonation, stress, and sometimes goes into the semantic level as well. When we look at languages, we can identify both free and bound words. Bound words are formed by adding one or more affixes together to a single word. Morphology studies about these word formation patterns and also it gives a scientific analysis to the word formation in languages.

Difference Between Phonology and Morphology

What is the difference between Phonology and Morphology?

Both phonology and morphology study various patterns in languages all over the world. When we look at the similarities of both these subject fields, we can see that they are engaged in the scientific analysis of languages. Both these are sub branches of Linguistics and without studying Phonology, one cannot move on to Morphology. There is an inter-relationship in both these subjects.

• For differences, we can identify that Phonology focuses on sound systems of languages whereas Morphology pays attention to the word and the morphemes of languages.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Words by Mark Longair (CC BY-SA 2.0)