Glossary: morphology and phonology

Technical terms

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The vocal folds moving apart. Contrast adduction.


An inflectional value of the feature case, with the meaning ‘(away) from’.


Vowel alternation resulting from a change in grammatical function, e.g. drive vs. drove in English (cf. umlaut). Also called apophony.

Absolute neutralization

The elimination of an underlying phoneme in all contexts, so that it always merges with some other phoneme. See also neutralization.


In ergative case systems, the case associated with the object of a transitive verb or the subject of an intransitive one.

Accented syllable

A syllable made prominent by pitch (commonly a pitch peak). In English intonation, a stressed syllable made prominent by being accompanied by the start of a new trend in the pitch contour of the utterance.


The morphological case of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and participles that occupy the position of object to the verb or some prepositions. Nouns and pronouns are typically assumed to receive accusative case by government, while adjectives and participles receive it by agreement with the noun.


The study of physical vibrations (sounds).


A word derived by taking the initial letter of all or most words in a string and pronouncing them together, e.g., scuba < selfcontained underwater breathing apparatus. Cf. alphabetism.


See voice (morphology).

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