LINGUIST List 11.654

Wed Mar 22 2000

Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Geoffrey S. Nathan, Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Message 1: Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 09:38:44 -0600
From: Geoffrey S. Nathan <>
Subject: Disc: Underlying Schwa?

An additional source for evidence of morphological relatedness is errors in 
morphology homework problems. I say this because I just graded an 
elementary exercise in derivational morphology from _Language Files_. At 
least one student, a native speaker, did not recognize the following 
morphological relatednesses:

explosion (didn't think of it as made up of 'explode+ion')
active (didn't see 'act' in it)
responsibility (didn't see 'responsible')

One of the problems with clever underlying forms based on relatedness 
between words is that there is great individual variation among native 
speakers as to whether there IS a common form-meaning pairing. In 
Mohanan's old book on lexical phonology, for example, he uses the pair 
'native': 'nation' as evidence for a level one rule of palatalization. But 
how many would argue for a synchronic semantic connection between those 
two? Etymological, sure, and obviously, orthographic. But the core 
meanings of 'native' (something like 'aboriginal') and 'nation' (political 
entity) are sufficiently distant to argue against a common lexical entry, 
which is what 'underlying form' is all about.


Geoffrey S. Nathan
Department of Linguistics
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Carbondale, IL, 62901-4517
Phone: (618) 453-3421 (Office) / FAX (618) 453-6527
 (618) 549-0106 (Home)
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