Oriya morphology

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Oriya morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of morphemes and other units of meaning in the Oriya language. Morphemes (called ରୁପିମ in Oriya and pronounced Rüpémë) are the smallest units of the Oriya language that carry and convey a unique meaning and is grammatically appropriate. A morpheme in Oriya (Termed as: ରୁପିମ) is the most minuscule meaningful constituent which combines and synthesizes the phonemes into a meaningful expression through its (morpheme's) form & structure. Thus, in essence, the morpheme is a structural combination of phonemes in Oriya. In other words, in Oriya language, the morpheme is a combination of sounds that possess and convey a meaning. A morpheme is not necessarily a meaningful word in Oriya. In Oriya, every morpheme is either a base or an affix (prefix or a suffix).

The combination of one or multiple morphemes lead to construction of a word. Morphemes are the smallest units of sentence analysis (Syntax) and include root words, prefixes, suffixes, and verb endings.

The current approach to Oriya morphology treat morphology and morphemes as the basic rules involving the linguistic context, rather than as isolated pieces of linguistic matter. In context of semantics (Analysis of Meaning), the approach is that:

1. Meaning is linked to segmented phonological units, with influences of tone and/or stress;
2. Meaning of a morpheme with a given form varies on account of its immediate usage environment.

General analysis[edit]

The existence and span of rules of morphemes in a language depend on the "morphology" in that particular language. In a language having greater morphology, a word would have an internal compositional structure in terms of word-pieces (i.e. free morphemes - Bases) and those would also possess bound morphemes like affixes. Such a morpheme-rich language is termed as Synthetic language. To the contrary, an isolating language uses independent words and in turn, the words lack internal structure. A synthetic language tends to employ affixes and internal modification of roots (i.e. free morphemes - Bases) for the same purpose of expressing additional meanings.

Oriya language is a moderately Synthetic language. It contains definite synthetic features, such as the bound morphemes mark tense, number (plurality), gender etc. However, though Oriya language has a larger number of derivational affixes, it has virtually no inflectional morphology.

Derivational synthesis in Oriya morphology[edit]

Oriya morphemes of different types (nouns, verbs, affixes, etc.) combine to create new words.

Relational synthesis in Oriya morphology[edit]

In relationally synthesized Oriya words, base morphemes (root words) join with bound morphemes to express grammatical function.

Oriya language has a tendency for commonly used words to have a 2:1 morpheme-word ratio i.e. on an average; there are 2 morphemes in a single word. Because of this tendency, Oriya is said to "possess morphology" since almost each used word has an internal compositional structure in terms morphemes. In Oriya language, generally, separate words are used to express syntactic relationships which imparts an isolating tendency, while using inflectional morphology could have made the language more synthetic.

Oriya morphemes[edit]

The basics of Oriya morphology are largely derived from Sanskrit. Thus, Morpheme-based morphology in Oriya essentially follows Sanskrit rules. Ancient Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini in Astadhyayi has defined a morpheme (termed पद: Pronounced: pada) as under:

सूप्तिऩ्ग ऩा पदम् (IAST:Sup ting na padam).
सूप् (‘Sup’) or तीऩ्ग (‘Ting’) create a पद (pada) i.e. a word.

Thus, ‘sup’ and ‘ting’ are morphemes. Since Oriya grammar follows rules of Sanskrit grammar, the structurally dissected form of a ‘pada’ is the also the morpheme (termed as Rupeme) in Oriya language. Some examples are as under:


Base Morpheme: /ଘର/ (Pronounced: ghara; meaning: house)

Phonetic Components:
/ଘରକୁ/ = /ଘ୍/ + /ଅ/ + /ର୍/ + /ଅ/ + /କ୍/ + /ଉ/

Morphological Components:

/ଘରକୁ/ = / ଘର/ + /କୁ/

Base Morpheme: /ହାତ/ (Pronounced: hāta; meaning: hand)

Morphological Components/Derivatives:

/ହାତୀ/ = / ହାତ/ + /ଈ/ [ଈ = ଅଛି]
/ହାତିଆ/ = / ହାତ/ + /ଇଆ/ [ଇଆ = ପରିମାଣ]
/ହାତୁଡି/ = / ହାତ/ + /ଉଡି/ [ଉଡି = ଆକୃତି]

Components of a morpheme[edit]

There are several components of a morpheme in Oriya language. There are as follows:

Base: A morpheme that imparts meaning on a word.

Derivational Morpheme: These morphemes alter and/or modify the meaning of the word and may create a whole new word.

Allomorphs: These are different phonetic forms or variations of a morpheme. The final morphemes in several words are pronounced differently, but they all signify plurality.

Homonyms: are morphemes that are spelled the similarly but have different meanings. Such examples abound Oriya grammar and are termed as similarly pronounced words (ସେମାଚଚାରିତ ଶବ୍ଦ). Examples:

ଜୀ??ନ (life) and ଜୀ??ନ (water), ହରି(Lord Vishnu) and ହରି (Monkey).

Homophones: These are morphemes that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. Examples: ସିତ (Black colour), ସୀତ (Plough head).


Morphemes in Oriya language may be classified, on the basis of word formation, characteristics into the following types:

Type Structure Bound Free Sub-types
Root 1. Simple
2. Made up of a single morpheme
3. Basis for compounding and affixation
Yes/No Yes/No None
Stem 1. Simple/Complex
2. Composed of one/multiple morphemes
3. Basis for affixation
Yes/No Yes/No None
Affix Simple Yes No Prefix, Infix, Suffix, Suprafix, Simulfix, and Circumfix
Clitic Simple Yes (Phonologically) Yes (Syntactically) Proclitic and Enclitic

Types of morphemes[edit]

1. Free morpheme (ମୁକ୍ତ ରୁପିମ)[edit]

Independent meaningful units are free morphemes. These are elemental words. Free morpheme can stand alone as a word without help of another morpheme. It does not need anything attached to it to make a word.

ରାମ ଭାତ ଖାଉଛି = ରାମ ଭାତ(କୁ) ଖାଉଛି: କମౕ ରାତି ବିତାଇଲା = ରାତି(େର) ବିତାଇଲା: ଅଧିକରଣ ରାମ କଥା ଶୁଣିଲି = ରାମ(ର) କଥା ଶୁଣିଲି: ସମ୍ବଂଧ ପଦ

2. Bound morphemes (ଆବଧ୍ଧ ରୁପିମ)[edit]

Units which are not independent words but convey meaning on account of their usage on combination are bound morphemes. A bound morpheme is a sound or a combination of sounds that cannot stand on its own as a meaningful word. Most of the bound morphemes in Oriya language are ‘affixes’. An affix is a morpheme that may come at the beginning (Termed as Prefix) or the end (Termed as Suffix) of a base morpheme.

In Oriya, prefixes are bound morphemes are affixes that come before a base morpheme. For example:

/ଉପକୂଳ/ = /ଉପ/ + /କୂଳ/ /ଉପନଦୀ/ = /ଉପ/ + /ନଦୀ/ /ଅପବାଦ/ = /ଅପ/ + /ବାଦ/ /ଅପରୂପ/ = /ଅପ/ + /ରୂପ/

A suffix is an affix that comes after a base morpheme. Example of suffix Bound Morphemes are:

/ସାଧୁତା/ = /ସାଧୁ/ + /ତା/ /ବୀରତ??/ = /ବୀର/ + /ତ/ /କାମିକା/ = /କାମ/ + /ଇକା/ /ନିସୃୃତ/ = / ନିଃ/ + /କୃତ/ /ତା/, /ତ/, /ଇକା/ are bound morphemes used suffixes. /ସାଧୁ/, /ବୀର/, /କାମ/ etc. are ‘complete bound morphemes’ /ତା/, /ତ??/, /ଇକା/ etc. are ‘dissected or partial bound morphemes’.

The free morphemes carry a fixed meaning while the bound morphemes exhibit large scale variations in meanings. The variable and changing meanings of the bound morphemes impart diversity to word meanings and enrich the language.

3. Complex or combined morphemes[edit]

In a complex morpheme, multiple free morphemes are combined to form a word and impart meaning. More than one Stem Morphemes create a complex morpheme.

Noun + Noun: ଘର + ଭଡା = ଘରଭଡା /ରଂଗ ମଂଚ/ = / ରଂଗ / + /ମଂଚ/

Adjective + Noun: କଳା + ପଟା = କଳାପଟା

Noun + Adjective: ସବౕ + ସାଧାରଣ = ସବౕସାଧାରଣ

Adjective + Adjective: ଭୀମ + କାଂତ = ଭୀମକାଂତ

4. Mixed morphemes[edit]

Where both free and bound morphemes combine to form another morpheme, the result is called a mixed morpheme. The mixed morpheme may result from the following combinations:

/ମଣିଷ/ + /ପଣ/ + /ଇଆ/ = /ମଣିଷପଣ/ + /ଇଆ/ = /ମଣିଷପଣିଆ/

/ମଣିଷପଣ/ is a complex morpheme while /ଇଆ/ is a bound morpheme.

Inflectional morphemes can only be suffixes. An inflectional morpheme creates a change in the function of the word. Example, /ଇଲା/ with /ଖା/, giving rise to /ଖାଇଲା/, indicates past tense. Oriya has innumerable inflectional morphemes, unlike only seven in English Language. Among others, these include the following:

  • /ମାେନ/, /ଗୁେଡ଼/, /ଗୁଡ଼ିଏ/ (plural, -s in English language)
  • /ର/, /??/, /??ର/, /ମାନଂକ/, / ମାନଂକର/, -'s (possessive) are noun inflections;
  • /ଗଲା/, /େହଲା/, /େହାଇଗଲା/, past tense (-ed), past participle (-en),
  • /ଛି/, /େହଉଛି/, /ଯାଉଛି/, ing (present participle) are verb inflections;

In Oriya morphology, there are no adjective and adverb inflections like the comparative (-er) and superlative (-est) of English language. Instead, bound morphemes like /ଠାରୁ/ and /ରୁ/, and free morphemes like /ଅେପ??/, /ତୁଳନାେର/ etc. are used.

5. Marker morphemes[edit]

In linguistics, a marker is a morpheme, mostly bound, that indicates the grammatical function of the target (marked) word or sentence. In a language like Oriya with isolating language tendencies, it is possible to express syntactic information via separate grammatical words instead via morphology (with bound morphemes). Therefore, the marker morphemes are easily distinguished.

Verb morphemes[edit]

Verb roots (Kriya Dhatu) can take Krudant (Krit + Anta: Krit ending) transformation and function as morphemes. Therefore, the verb morphemes are termed as Krudant.

/ଖା/ + /ଇଆ/ = /ଖିଆ/ = /ମଣିଷଖିଆ ବାଘ/ Verb Morpheme can be either continuous morphemes or perfect morphemes on the basis of tense.

Verb continuous morphemes: /ଖା/ + /ଇ/ = /ଖାଇ/

Verb perfect morphemes: /ଖା/ + /ଇଲା/ = /ଖାଇଲା/


Sub-morphemes are metamorphosis of actual morphemes. Sub-morphemes are also called complementary morphemes or meta-morphemes. Sub-morphemes may arise on account of changes in number of noun morphemes or tense of verb morphemes or gender of noun morphemes, as under:

a. Number: /େଗାଟିଏ/ + /ଘର/ = /େଗାଟିଏ ଘର/ One + House = A House

/ଗୁଡିଏ/ + /ଘର/ = / ଗୁଡିଏ ଘର/ Many + House = Many Houses

/େଗାଟିଏ/ + /େଲାକ/ = /େଲାକଟିଏ / /ଅେନକ/ + /େଲାକ/ = /େଲାେକ/ Sub Morphme: /ଏ /

b. Tense: The sub-morphemes are different appearances of a morpheme at different tense. For instance, the present perfect morpheme in Oriya is: /ଇଲା/ However, the present perfect sub-morpheme of /ଇଲା/ is /ଲା/. For instance: /ଖା/ + /ଇଲା/ = /ଖାଇଲା/ /ପା/ + /ଇଲା/ = /ପାଇଲା/ are normal usage of /ଇଲା/. However, the sub-morpheme is: /ଗ/ + /ଲା/ = /ଗଲା/ /େଦ/ + /ଲା/ = /େଦଲା/ /େନ/ + /ଲା/ = /େନଲା/

c. Gender:

Difference between morphemes, words and syllables in Oriya[edit]

Even though morphemes combine to create a word in Oriya, the morphemes are not always independent words. Some single morphemes are words while other words are composed of two or more morphemes.

In Oriya, morphemes are also different from syllables. Many words have two or more syllables but only one morpheme. For example:
କୁକର, ଉପଦ????, ମୋ'ର are examples. On the other hand, many words have two morphemes and only one syllable; examples include ଧନି, ମୋଟା etc.

See also[edit]



Neukom, Lukas and Manideepa Patnaik. 2003. A grammar of Oriya. (Arbeiten des Seminars für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft; 17). Zürich: Seminar für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Zürich. ISBN 3-9521010-9-5

Further reading[edit]

  • Fromkin, Victoria, and Robert Rodman. An Introduction to Language. 5th ed., Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Joanovich College Publishers, 1993.
  • Bauer, Mary Beth, et al., Grammar and Composition. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1982.
  • Dhal, Golok Behari. (1961) Introduction to Oriya Phonetics
  • Ghosh, A. (2003). An ethnolinguistic profile of Eastern India: a case of South Orissa. Burdwan: Dept. of Bengali (D.S.A.), University of Burdwan.
  • Masica, Colin (1991). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2
  • Mohanty, Prasanna Kumar (2007). The History of Oriya Literature (Oriya Sahityara Adya Aitihasika Gana).

External links[edit]