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Linguistics 5: English Sound Structure and Word Formation


Admission requirements

Pass mark for Linguistics 4 (or similar course)


This course focuses on the structure of English words from the perspective of both morphology (the study of ‘word structure’) and phonology (the study of ‘sound structure’). We will analyze the ways in which the building blocks of words (‘morphemes’) combine, and how this impacts on the phonological structure of words. For example, English morphemes do not have long consonants. However, when two morphemes are combined, long consonants can be created in some contexts (e.g. unnatural, with a long [n]), but not in others (e.g. innumerable, with a short [n]). Or consider the observation that some suffixes may trigger a stress shift (e.g. grammarian, Shakespearean), while others do not affect the stress pattern of the base with which they are combined (e.g. development, disenfranchisement). Morphological processes can also be sensitive to the phonological structure of morphemes. Consider for example the variation between the past-tense suffix variants [t] and [d], whose distribution depends on a phonological property of the base. These phenomena show that the interaction between morphology and phonology is both interesting and complex.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of morphological and phonological terminology

  • Knowledge of a number of theoretical proposals for the morphology-phonology interface

  • Insight into the morphology and phonology of English

  • The ability to analyze morphological and phonological structure

  • The ability to formulate morphological and phonological arguments


The timetable is available on the BA English website

Mode of instruction

Seminar (two hours per week)

Course Load

The course load of this course is 280 hours.

  • 26 hours spent on attending the seminars

  • 164 hours for studying the compulsory literature

  • 90 hours for preparing the exams

Assessment method

Two written exams and a written assignment.

  • Research proposal and essay (800 words): 30%

  • Participation and (group) presentation: 10%

  • End-of-term written exam: 60%

  • Taking part in a group presentation is a pre-requisite for taking the written exam.


Resit written exam and/or re-write essay

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.



Reading list

  • Lieber, Rochelle (2015). Introducing Morphology (2nd revised edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (selected chapters).

  • Kennedy, Robert (2017). Phonology. A Coursebook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Additional reading (to be announced)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

NB: First year students will be enrolled by the coordinator of studies.

Students other than from the BA English Language and Culture studies need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.