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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


  • Final written exam

  • Essay

  • (Group)presentation

  • Participation


Written exam: 60%
Essay: 30%
Presentation and participation: 10%


When the mark for the written exam is 5.49 or lower, the exam will have to be retaken during the resit period. When the mark for the essay is 5.49 or lower, a resit essay will have to be submitted during the resit period, with a new essay topic. There is no resit for presentations.


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.

Inspection and feedback

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.


Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

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

  • Additional reading (to be announced)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

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

Students other than from the BA English language and culture cannot take this course.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk