Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That Cranberry Morpheme Has Tude

A cranberry morpheme, according to Andrew Spencer in the book Morphological Theory, is a morpheme that has "neither meaning nor grammatical function, yet is used to differentiate one word from another". The term cranberry morpheme was chosen to describe this linguistic occurrence based on the comparison of the word 'cranberry' to other 'berry' words where the first morphemes do carry meaning (ex. blueberry, blackberry and loganberry).

Cranberry morphemes are sometimes called "fossilized terms". In the case of the word 'cranberry' Wikipedia points out the fact that 'cran' "actually comes from crane (the bird)." Of course this etymology is not commonly known, thus the alternate name "fossilized term".

Some cranberry morphemes with 'tude' that are currently popular include:




Faldone said...

Does -gate count as a cranberry morpheme?

Wordacious said...

"-gate" in the sense of Watergate, Iran-Contragate, Hillarygate and the like is definitely a cranberry morpheme.

Faldone said...

Spam rossiskaya?

Wordacious said...

Faldone - thanks for the heads up on the Russian spam.

Academia-Nut said...

What happens when an article on semantics, specifically morphemes, uses a word like "chosed" rather than using the correct word of "chosen"? The article loses credibility!

Wordacious said...


Thank you so much for alerting me to the typo. I have now corrected it. We all make mistakes and I appreciate your pointing this one out to me.

Of course I know that "chosed" is not a word and that the correct morpheme to use in this sentence would be the inflectional past participle suffix "-en".

Have a great day.

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