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The past tense of the verb hit, as in the sentence Yesterday you hit the ball, and the plural of the noun sheep as in The sheep are in the meadow, show that some morphemes have no phonological shape at all. We know that hit in the above sentence is hit + past because of the time adverb yesterday, and we know that sheep is the phonetic form of sheep + plural because of the plural verb form are.

What does the bolded part mean? It seems to me that the author implies there are more than two pronunciation for the word "sheep", one is for the plural form of "sheep".

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I'm not sure I understand the jargon, but the author is not implying that there are multiple pronunciations for "sheep". With less jargon, I would write

"In the sentences above, we know that hit is in the past tense because of the time adverb yesterday, and we know that sheep is being used in the plural because of the plural verb form are."

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  • Thank you for your explanation. Do sheep (plural form) and sheep(singular form) have different pronunciation? I am curious about this though I think they do not.
    – chika
    Sep 30 '18 at 3:43
  • They are pronounced exactly the same way. Oct 3 '18 at 21:01

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