Here is a wonderful example of a student word study. This older student was interested in the word <carnivore>. We hypothesized the word sum:
- carn + i + vore –> carnivore
This word sum was supported by evidence of its relationship in meaning to the base <carn> denoting “flesh” and the base <vore> denoting “swallow.” Although <vore> is often listed in dictionaries as a suffix, we know it cannot be a suffix because of its denotation and use as a solitary base in words such as:
- vore + ace + i + ous –> voracious
As we were studying <carnivore> and related words, my student asked whether it could be related to <carnival>. An interesting question indeed!
After hypothesizing the word sums:
- *carn + i + val –> carnival
- *carn + ive + al –> carnival
We looked at the etymology of the word. Now, the etymology only gives us support for our word sums, but it is not a morphological reference. That is, it cannot give us a valid current English word sum. That part is left to our scientific reasoning.
We discovered that while <carnival> is indeed related to <carnivore>, we cannot say that it has a base of <carn> because we cannot analyze the rest of the word in a valid way. Here’s what happened. The word stems from the Latin bases for “flesh” and “raise” as in “raising flesh.” This meaning comes from the idea of a great meat eating party on Fat Tuesday. This word in Latin was “carnelevare”. Over time, the word changed such that we no longer have a second meaningful base element in English. So, we cannot analyze this into meaningful English morphemes. Consequently, the base must be the word itself, and the word sum is:
- carnival –> carnival
As we worked, we created this wonderful mind map: