Morphotactics: An Overview of Positional Constraints and Repairs
Karlos Arregi, Andrew Ira Nevins
November 2022

Consider the kinship relations denoted by 'sister-in-law', featuring a morphologically complex item involving derivational processes. Pluralization of such nouns, occurring externally, should yield `sister-in-laws', but an extremely frequent variant is `sisters-in-law'. This displaced, internalized inflection involves a morphotactic rearrangement, based on the specific well-formedness principles governing morphology within the word domain. Now consider the putatively substandard Spanish plural imperative 'sienten-se-n' ('Sit down!', with an agreement morpheme -n outside the clitic 'se'). Are these the result of a morphological displacement? Authors such as Kayne (2010) have answered 'no', and treated 'sienten-se-n' as the result of an alternative syntactic derivation, arguing that syntax should be the sole engine of this kind of structural re-combinatoriality. But in Arregi and Nevins 2018, we caution against the overzealous wielding of Occam's Razor. Spanish displaced plural morphology, and certain phenomena like it, are cases of dialect microvariation. The guiding research heuristic of the present chapter is that the closer one gets to PF, the more one finds dialect microvariation. Cases of displaced morphology in Basque auxiliaries, Cypriot Greek past tense marking, and infinitival particles in varieties of West Germanic can be built into a theory of morphotactic constraints and repairs. In many of these cases, the underlying syntax of these varieties is largely uniform, but dialect-specific positional constraints, such as Non-Initiality within a structural domain, guide a host of repairs that are post-syntactic, after a syntactic composition that does not vary as widely, is complete. In this way, an architecture of word-formation known as Distributed Morphology is composed of discrete components, each with its own burden of labor and its mechanisms for doing so. Morphosyntactic variation in space and time can be more easily localized once specific submodules are isolated and identified
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006953
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Handbook of Distributed Morphology
keywords: positional morphotactics, mesoclisis, spanish, basque, cypriot greek, german, dutch, infinitival zu, noninitiality, nonfinality, peninitiality, penfinality, morphology
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