Morphemes and Phonemes

Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in a language.  Phonemes are the smallest units of sound in a language.  In Chinese, each phoneme corresponds to a morpheme and each morpheme corresponds to a morpheme.

For example, in English we have the word "cat."  "Cat" is a complete idea, and it cannot be broken down into smaller ideas based upon the word.  "Cat" is also a complete sound.  While each letter in "cat" corresponds to a specific sound, separately they are not complete.  Every character in Chinese represents a single morpheme and has a corresponding phoneme very similar to the word "cat".

On the other hand, English has many cases where more than one phoneme is corresponds to a single morpheme.  For instance, in telephone there are two morphemes: tele and phone.  In the same word there are seven phonemes: t, e, l, e, f, o, and n.

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