Word stem  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In linguistics, a stem (sometimes also theme) is the part of a word that is common to all its inflected variants. Stems are often roots, e.g. atomic, its root is atom, but its stem is atom·ic. A stem can be morphologically complex, as seen with compound words (cf. the compound nouns meat ball or bottle opener) or words with derivational morphemes (cf. the derived verbs black-en or standard-ize). Thus, the stem of the complex English noun photographer is photo·graph·er, but not photo. For another example, the root of the English verb form destabilized is stabil-, a form of stable that does not occur alone; the stem is de·stabil·ize, which includes the derivational affixes de- and -ize, but not the inflectional past tense suffix -(e)d. That is, a stem is that part of a word that inflectional affixes attach to.

The exact use of the word 'stem' depends on the morphology of the language is question. In Athabaskan linguistics, for example, a verb stem is a root that cannot appear on its own, and that carries the tone of the word. Athabaskan verbs typically have two stems in this analysis, each preceded by prefixes.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Word stem" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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