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Conference Information

Full Title: Synchrony and Diachrony of Inflectional Classes

Location: Budapest, Hungary
Start Date: 30-May-2014 - 30-May-2014
Contact: Petros Karatsareas
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Synchrony and Diachrony of Inflectional Classes: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations


Petros Karatsareas (University of the West of England & Open University of Cyprus)
Enrique L. Palancar (SeDyL-CELIA, CNRS & Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey)
Timothy Feist (Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey)

Workshop Description:

Understanding inflectional classes can be fundamental for morphological theory and morphological analysis. In a canonical world, each morphosyntactic or morphosemantic feature (or combination of features) would be expressed by a single formative. Systems closer to such a canon exist: consider for example languages such as Turkish. In other cases, however, we find that the same morphosyntactic or morphosemantic feature (or combination of features) are at times expressed by different formatives across different lexical items. This often results in a distribution of lexical items into distinct inflectional classes, whose class membership is unpredictable and arbitrary, i.e. it cannot be predicted by differences in phonological form, syntactic feature specification or semantic content.

Although linguists have long been aware of inflectional classes, they continue to pose a challenge for theories of morphology (as pointed out in recent works with proposals as to how to deal with some of their formal aspects, for example Ackerman et al. 2009; Finkel and Stump 2007; Müller 2007; Baerman 2012, Brown and Hippisley 2012, etc.). This is mainly because their lack of functional motivation is hard to explain in an account of language structure which is based on the assumption that a linguistic system favors economy between form and function both synchronically and diachronically. Because of this, the synchronic occurrence of inflectional classes is often treated as if it was a dead weight of the linguistic system (Mayerthaller 1981; Wurzel 1986: 76).

Yet, inflectional classes are widely found cross-linguistically and are remarkably resilient over time. In some cases, the number of inflectional classes may even grow with time in a given language. We believe that these observations call for further investigation into the nature of this purely morphological phenomenon.

References Cited:

Ackerman, F., J. P. Blevins & R. Malouf. 2009. Parts and wholes: Implicative patterns in inflectional paradigms. In James P. Blevins & Juliette Blevins (eds.), Analogy in Grammar: Form and Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 54-82.

Baerman, Mathew. 2012. Paradigmatic chaos in Nuer. Language 88: 467-494.

Brown, Dunstan and Andrew Hippisley. 2012. Network Morphology: A Defaults-based Theory of Word Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Finkel, R. and G. T. Stump. 2007. Principal parts and morphological typology. Morphology 17: 39-75.

Mayerthaler, W. 1981. Morphologische Natürlichkeit. Wiesbaden: Athenaeum.

Müller, G. 2007. Notes on paradigm economy. Morphology 17: 1-38.

Wurzel, W. U. 1986. Die wiederholte Klassifikation von Substantiven: Zur Entstehung von Deklinationsklassen. Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung 39-1: 76-96.
Linguistic Subfield: Morphology
LL Issue: 24.2968

This is a session of the following meeting:
16th International Morphology Meeting

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