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Comparison of inflection and derivation

 

Introduction
 

Inflection and derivation are the two main processes of word formation. They are two kinds of morphosyntactic operation.

Compare: Inflection and derivation
 

Inflectional operations create forms that are fully grounded and able to be integrated into discourse, whereas derivational operations create stems that are not necessarily fully grounded and which may still require inflectional operations before they can be integrated into discourse.

 

Here is a table that compares and contrasts inflection and derivation:

 

Inflectional operations

Derivational operations

Lexical category

Do not change the lexical category of the word.

Often change the lexical category of the word

Location

Tend to occur outside derivational affixes.

Tend to occur next to the root

Type of meaning

Contribute syntactically conditioned information, such as number, gender, or aspect.

Contribute lexical meaning

Affixes used

Occur with all or most members of a class of stems.

Are restricted to some, but not all members of a class of stems

Productivity

May be used to coin new words of the same type.

May eventually lose their meaning and usually cannot be used to coin new terms

Grounding

Create forms that are fully-grounded and able to be integrated into discourse.

Create forms that are not necessarily fully grounded and may require inflectional operations before they can be integrated into discourse

 
Note:

Inflection versus derivation is more a continuum than a strict distinction. Some operations fall in between the prototypical extremes. Operations tend to migrate diachronically from inflection to derivation. (Very rarely do they migrate in the opposite direction.)

Source:

Payne, T. 1997a 26


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