When sound change obscures morphosyntax: Insights from Seediq
Victoria Chen
March 2024

The Formosan language Seediq displays an understudied case of morphological opacity, where a single phonological innovation has resulted in the syncretism of five Proto-Austronesian functional affixes in affirmative declaratives. How and why these affixes remain functionally intact in modern Seediq has important implications for understanding the tension and interplay between semantic transparency and morphological opacity. In this squib, I demonstrate that the marginal overlap of these affixes’ lexical subcategorization may have reduced obstacles to learnability and processing, enabling them to remain functionally distinct despite the absence of morphological distinctions. The case of Seediq therefore highlights the often-neglected fact that sound change-induced morphological opacity may obscure but not necessarily obliterate syntax.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008006
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Oceanic Linguistics
keywords: morphological opacity, seediq, morphological merger, morpho-phonological interface, austronesian, morphology, syntax, phonology
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