New morpheme-based spelling lists

I’ve just added some morpheme-based word lists to the Spelfabet spelling lists.

Morphemes are meaningful word parts, and are listed in the following order: inflectional suffixes (part of grammar), prefixes, derivational suffixes, and bound bases from Germanic, Latin and Greek.

These lists have been harder to make than I’d expected, but also more interesting, because so many morphemes, er, morph.

For example, the ‘fact’ in factory has the same origin as the ‘fect’ in ‘confectionery’ and the ‘fic’ in ‘artificial’ and ‘fiction’. They’re all to do with making stuff, of course. I’ve therefore put them all on the same list, which starts like this:

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to classify morphemes, especially Greek ones. The Greek base ‘logue/log’, as in ‘catalogue’ and ‘analogous’, has the same origin as the -ology suffix in ‘biology’, ‘mythology’ and ‘psychology’, so I tried hard to keep them together, but in the end settled on two linked entries, here’s the bound base one:

If you’re using teaching resources like Word Sums or the Base Bank , you might notice that sometimes my lists have a single entry for a morphing morpheme (e.g. ‘vene’, ‘ven’ or ‘vent’ meaning ‘come’), whereas their resources have two entries. I don’t think this matters, and hope that those resources and my lists are complementary, since it’s easier to work with just one version of a morpheme (what linguists call an allomorph), but it can be interesting and useful to link other versions.

It will probably take a while for Google’s bots to crawl all over the new lists and make it possible to search for e.g. ‘spelfabet base logue’ and get the relevant list straight away. However, it’s been possible to Google e.g. ‘spelfabet igh as in night’ for years, so I’m hoping that soon the bots will do their work, and make it easy for teachers and others to find the morpheme-based spelling lists.

I’ll keep adding more morphing morphemes to the site as time permits, but wanted the lists made available before this week’s DSF Language, Literacy and Learning Virtual Conference, as I talk about morphology quite a bit in my session. Hope you’re looking forward to this conference as much as I am, and that you find my morpheme-based lists useful.

16 thoughts on “New morpheme-based spelling lists

  1. Sara Peden

    The more I look the more I love.
    Is there any chance that you are planning to amalgamate them into a single .pdf resource for sale? I would definitely be happy to pay for it if you did that!

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Sarah, thanks for the lovely feedback, much appreciated. Will finish them off and consider your question, I don’t plan to do this right now, but maybe in the future. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  2. Jen

    You are amazing! Your generosity in sharing and knowledge is truly inspiring. Living in regional Victoria, we have limited speech therapists /pathologists and those we do have, have a heavy workload. Being able to know that the information on this site can be trusted, is valuable for teachers and more importantly the students they teach. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. A

    Love this! However, is the ‘o’ in biology not a connecting vowel – ie bi + o+ logy not the sum? We see connecting vowels in lots of Greek bases. -logy being the study of and Holding the meaning “life”? Just a thought 🙂

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Yes! This is one of the things I wondered about how to split, because ‘bi’ also means ‘two’ and mostly the ‘bi’ meaning life is with the connective ‘o’. Is it important to separate out the ‘o’? I’ll add a sentence to the page clarifying this. Thanks for the useful feedback. Alison

      Reply
      1. A

        Yes! I love that bi can be a prefix meaning two or a base element meaning life. I think it’s important for us to separate as -logy is the suffix not -ology* as seen is zoology and analogy and a few others (although we do usually see the o connecting vowel before it). It also helps introduce the idea of connecting vowels to students as they do appear in many different words like community and facial (usually o is Greek and i, u and a are Latin origin words).

        Reply
  4. Allyson

    These are awesome! I think you’ve got some glitches in the links, though? Tw for two took me to ‘hap’, for instance. There were a couple of other links that did the same.

    Reply
  5. Sam

    Wow Alison these lists are amazing! Thank you very much for all the incredible resources you so generously create and share. I’ve been making similar morpheme lists for my grade 5-6 students so it is wonderful to have your comprehensive lists to refer to. It also reassures me that I’ve been on the right track with my spelling/vocab study.

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Sam, thanks for the lovely feedback, my lists aren’t at all comprehensive yet but I’ll keep working on them, and I’m so happy you like them. All the best, Alison

      Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Tania, thanks, I haven’t been looking for a publishing deal, should I be? I wouldn’t know where to look! Hope you’ve had a relaxing long weekend. Alison

      Reply
  6. Caroline Deane

    Can I comment on the ven/ vent Yes the Latin and modern Italian is the verb ‘venire’ meaning to come, but the noun ‘ vento’ means ‘wind’ which goes better for air vents and ventilation.

    Reply
  7. Christina Guy

    Hi Alison,
    Thanks once again for producing something so useful for teachers and available for free. You are so generous. If I may ask a question I would love to hear your thoughts. A spelling program one of my schools use teachers suffix -ious and -eous. I thought the suffix was -ous. A teacher was asking about the word unconscious. I thought un+con+sci+ous. His class was debating about it as the word list was -ious suffix words but then what is the base?

    Reply

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