LINGUIST List 13.3007

Tue Nov 19 2002

Review: Morphology: Booij (2002) Morpholoby of Dutch

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  1. Marina Tzakosta, Booij (2002) The Morphology of Dutch

Message 1: Booij (2002) The Morphology of Dutch

Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 11:00:31 +0100
From: Marina Tzakosta <>
Subject: Booij (2002) The Morphology of Dutch

Booij, Geert (2002) The Morphology of Dutch. Oxford University Press,
xii+253pp, paperback ISBN 0-19-829980-X, $26.00.

Marina Tzakosta, University of Leiden Centre for Linguistics

[This book has not yet been announced on the LINGUIST list. --Eds.]

As claimed by its author the goal of this book is twofold: on the one
hand, it aims at "an internationally accessible description of Dutch
morphology". On the other hand, it intends to show that the "morphology
of Dutch poses interesting descriptive and theoretical challenges" to
general morphological theory. The book covers the major areas that are
of interest to Morphology, namely inflection (ch. 2), derivation (ch.
3), and compounding (ch. 4). It further addresses issues related to the
interface of Morphology with Phonology (ch. 5) and Syntax (ch. 6). The
book closes with a chapter containing thoughts about the architecture
of the Grammar.

Chapter 1. Preliminaries
In the first chapter, Booij addresses the linguistic background that
led to the rise of morphology and presents an overview of the
linguistic trends and studies that either gave a special place to
morphology (cf. Spencer and Zwicky 1998) or totally ignored it. He
further deals with the content and tasks of morphology, as well as the
necessity for the existence of a grammatical module such as that of

He further gives some first hints about some main lines of
investigation in his book, namely the nature of morphological rules, as
well as the nature and the content of the lexicon. He also argues
against the incorporation of morphology into syntax. Syntax basically
argues against the existence of Morphology as and independent
grammatical module on the basis of syntagmatic relations between word
forms. Nevertheless, evidence for the opposite position comes from the
paradigmatic relations between word forms (e.g. substitution of one
suffix with another, back formation, bracketing paradoxes).

There is one thing I do not find very clear in this chapter and this
concerns the content of the lexicon. I quote from Booij: '... affixes
should not appear as lexical entries because they have no existence of
their own ... I assume that the morphological module contains a number
of [these] templates (morphological constructions of the [V+er] type,
where [e.g] the V is an open slot and can in principle be filled by any
verb), one for each morphological process, with an open slot for the
base. In the case of Dutch, there will be even more than one open slot:
nominal and adjectival compounding are productive in Dutch, and hence,
we have a template [X][Y]Y for nominal and adjectival compounds (where
X stands for N,A,V and Y stands for N,A)' (p. 5). My questions are: (1)
Is it more economical to have whole templates or other constructions as
part of the lexicon, rather than their subparts, especially if they are
productive? (2) if affixes are not listed in the lexicon, how can one
account for cases where affixes are considered to be the heads of
morphologically complex words and even take over stress assignment
(e.g. the case of Greek, cf. Revithiadou 1999)?

Chapter 2. The Inflectional System
With this chapter Booij starts his account of the Dutch language
system. The analysis of the inflectional system is divided into two
main parts, the first dealing with nominal inflection (nouns and
adjectives) and the second dealing with verbal inflection.

The author distinguishes between inherent and contextual inflection,
the first 'adding morphosyntactic properties with an independent
semantic value to the head of the word' (p. 19), while the second is
'required by the syntactic context, but does not add information' (pp.

In the nominal inflection part the main subject of discussion is the
inflectional category of Number, since Dutch has only relics of a case
system, just like English. Booij reports on the Dutch plural suffixes
and all the possible idiosyncrasies, i.e. nouns that lack a plural
form, pluralia tantum nouns, etc. as well as the phonological factors
that may influence the choice of one plural suffix over another (e.g.
stress and foot construction, alternation between short and long vowels
in the stem) and so on.

After Number, the discussion is moved to possessor marking (2.2.2) and
Gender (2.2.3), which do not exhibit morphological characteristics, and
therefore they are not morphological categories. The author adduces
many arguments for this theoretically important point.
In the adjectival inflection part (2.3), the degree forms, the
inflection of pronominal adjectives, nominalizing suffixation and
partitive constructions are dealt with. Booij discusses the
morphological characteristics of each of these categories.
Consequently, degree forms of adjectives feed word formation,
prenominal adjectives can be used as adverbs as long as they lack their
inflectional schwa, and nominalizing suffixation serves to create so-
called transcategorial constructions (Lefebvre and Muysken 1988)and
partitive constructions, which take the surface form of Quantifier
Adjective+s. This latter construction is very productive in Dutch.

In the verbal inflection part (2.4) the finite (indicative mood) and
non-finite forms (infinitive, perfective/ passive participle and
present participle) are dealt with. Finite forms agree in person and
number with the subject of the clause where the finite form appears in
Dutch. Tense, on the other hand, is a case of inherent inflection.
According to Booij, categories such as Present Tense and Past Tense are
formal morphological categories and still require semantic
interpretation rules. He further provides the reader with model
paradigms of verb formation for regular and irregular verbs, stem
alternating verbs, stem alternating verbs with consonantal alternation,
stem-alternating verbs with schwa-less infinitives, and modal verbs.

The virtue of this part of the chapter is that Booij is essentially
descriptive, as of course he should be, in order to give a fully
fledged report on the verbal inflection of Dutch, but he also goes into
a discussion regarding the possible theoretical analyses and their
(dis)advantages (e.g. bracketing paradoxes, morphological headedness,
diacritic feature percolation).

In addition, the author provides arguments against the view that
certain constructions (such as the construction of the past tense,
hebben + verb, and more convincingly zullen + verb) cannot be
considered to be periphrastic.

Booij closes his chapter with a very insightful discussion, the one
which examines the boundary and interaction between inflection and word
formation (2.5). I consider this to be an important topic, because, on
the one hand he makes a smooth transition from one chapter to another
and on the other hand, its contribution is seen in comparison with
other studies, which is, unfortunately, lacking in many other books.

In this final part, the author in a scientific as well as philosophical
way tries to present the limits of both inflection and derivation
adding into the discussion the attitudes of other researchers towards
this issue (cf. Anderson 1982, Bybee 1985, Perlmutter 1988, Dressler
1989, Anderson 1992, Plank 1994, Booij 1998, 2000).

Chapter 3. Derivation
The chapter dealing with derivation is divided into several subparts
devoted to some theoretical preliminaries (3.2), prefixation (3.3),
suffixation (3.4), and conversion (3.5).

In 3.2 Booij provides the properties of derivation, summarizing what he
had already said at the end of the previous chapter. I find his
objections to the validity and universality of the Righthand Head Rule
(RHR, Williams 1981) to account for a satisfactory account of
affixation, important in the sense that he convincingly shows that
headedness is not the same notion in morphology as it is in Syntax.

Another important innovation of Booij's work is that he also indicates
the role that each of the other grammatical modules play in
morphological processes, e.g. the restrictions that phonology imposes
when affixation takes place, or the restrictions that syntax or
semantics (see 3.2.4), and even pragmatics, also impose. In the
prefixation part the author makes separate categories for verbal
prefixes (3.3.1), and nominal prefixes (3.3.2).

He devotes more space to suffixation, because suffixation is always
class-determining and can create complex verbs, nouns, adjectives and
adverbs. For this reason he again organizes the discussion devoting
separate subparts to verbal suffixes (3.4.1), noun suffixes (3.4.2),
adjectival suffixes (3.4.3) and adverb suffixes (3.4.4). For each of
these suffixes Booij reports on their morphological behavior and the
degree of their productivity.

In the last subpart of this chapter Booij discusses conversion (= 'the
derivation of a word without any phonological change of its base word'
(Booij 2002: 134) and the advantages of considering conversion as a
templatic process rather than zero affixation. Even though Booij
considers conversion to be a word-formation process, he admits that it
is very productive because of its semantic versatility. He draws on
data from language acquisition to support this view (Clark 1993). He
convincingly demonstrates the inadequacies of a syntactic approach,
which accounts for conversion as a purely syntactic phenomenon and
points the necessity of a morphological account of the phenomenon.

Chapter 4. Compounding
One of the reasons that Booij devotes a separate chapter to compounding
is that it is a very productive process in Dutch. Moreover, he gives a
more precise definition to the notion compound, that of the combination
of two lexemes ("not of two 'free forms' since the constituents of a
compound are not necessarily free" (p. 141).

The chapter is again divided into several subparts, in order of
productivity: in 4.2 Booij deals with nominal compounds, 4.3. deals
with adjectival compounds, 4.4 deals with verbal compounds, and 4.5.
with numeral compounds.

In the nominal compounds part, the author provides us with all the
possible categories that can take the head and, especially, the non-
head position. The classes of nominal compounds are a) endocentric
compounds, b) copulative compounds, c) left-headed compounds or
syntactic constructs. Booij points out that 'not all kinds of NPs can
function as compound constituents. It is only the combination of a bare
adjective or quantifier with a bare noun that is allowed ... this means
that it is the morphological module that defines which kind of NPs can
occur with compounds. The reasons for this restriction are at least
partially semantic' (p. 147). He provides further examples for this
claim in the rest of the subchapter. I would say that this is a clear
answer to those who tend to account for compounds only in terms of

In the following sections he follows the same line of argumentation as
in the first one. I find his argumentation for the existence of a
separate morphological module convincing except for the category of
numeral compounds. I quote from Booij again: 'the feature that
distinguishes Dutch (and German from English, French, and many other
European languages is that for numbers between 21 and 99, the ones come
before the tens ... in numbers above 100, the pattern is formally
(including phonetically) still identical to that of syntactic co-
ordination, but such numeral expressions are felt and written as one
word. Hence, we consider this pattern also as a morphological
construction that originated through the morphologization of a
syntactic construction. This is confirmed by the fact that the main
stress of such numerals is located on the last constituent ... whereas
the there are equal stresses on the parts of the syntactic co-
ordination' (p. 166). To me this sounds as an argument against
morphology, and for the fact that the forms have arisen through the
interaction of Phonology with Syntax!

Chapter 5. The Interface of Morphology and Phonology
With this and the next chapter, Booij goes into a very interesting
area, viz. that of the interface of different grammatical modules. In
this and the next chapter he deals with the interface of Morphology
with Phonology (ch. 5) and with Syntax (ch. 6).The questions that
concern Booij (also formulated in Booij 1995) are similar to those
posed in the work of McCarthy and Prince (1986, 1993, 1995) on Prosodic

Initially, the author defines the morphological and prosodic domains
and underlines the fact that these domains are not characterized by
complete isomorphy. He further defines the level of interaction of
Morphology and Phonology, namely the phonological make-up of affixes,
the prosodic gapping, as well as cases of allomorphy of affixes and
stems. The fact that phonological processes influence and are
influenced by certain grammatical categories, clearly marks the
boundaries between Morphology and Phonology but also their close
interaction. I found this chapter very insightful, especially because
it provides a clear cut analysis of the dynamic relation of different
modules of Grammar.

Chapter 6. The Morphology-Syntax Interface
I think that this chapter is of equal coherence and consistency of
argumentation as the previous one. The domains of interaction of
Morphology with Syntax are a) the realm of inflection, especially
contextual inflection, b) valency changing morphological operations,
and c) word formation fed by Syntax.

For example, the fact that the Dutch prefix be- is used to derive verbs
with a specific syntactic property, that is, transitive verbs, has to
be accounted for in terms of a morphological description. Additionally,
the principle of compositionality, which is considered to be one of the
fundamental principles of Morphology, determines the coinage of
deverbal subjects in -er.

>From the point of view of Syntax, the so-called separable verbs are
syntactic constructions, because a) they are not prefixed words, but
they are separable, b) they undergo Verb Raising, they can be
successfully analyzed as small clauses (Hoekstra et al. 1987).
Nevertheless, the very same verbs feed deverbal word formation, the
addition of a particle may have the effect of category change and/ or
change the syntactic valency of the verb, and they may be considered as
lexicalized constructions (as was already argued in ch. 1). These and
other examples that Booij provides leave room for a very fruitful
discussion regarding the interaction of Syntax with Morphology.

Chapter 7. Conclusions: the Architecture of the Grammar
This chapter sums up the ideas posed in the book, which are directly
related to the issue of the autonomy of Morphology, the content of the
Lexicon and the relation of Morphology with other grammatical modules.

Booij's 'the Morphology of Dutch' is a well written book, which can be
accessed by researchers who are interested in morphology in general and
Dutch Morphology in particular, and students who want to excurse into
the realm of Morphology. It nicely combines discussing basic (and not
only basic) notions of Morphology with analyzing them on a theoretical

Within the same line, the book is exhaustively descriptive, as a
handbook should be (cf. de Haas and Trommelen 1993), but the author
further bases his thinking on theoretical (explanatory) fundamentals,
using for example the tools of modern theories such as Optimality
Theory (e.g. ch. 2, pp. 26f). Moreover, it is one of the very few
handbooks that deal with phenomena on the interface (ch. 5, 6, but also
cases in other chapters). This is, I think, its first virtue. Another
virtue is that Booij draws on empirical findings from language
acquisition and language variation and change to justify the emergence
of unmarked patterns in the plural (ch. 2).

Anderson, S. R. 1982. Where's Morphology? Linguistic Inquiry 13.571-612.

Anderson, S. R. 1992. A-Morphous Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

Booij, G. 1998b. The Relation between Inheritance and Argument Linking:
Deverbal Noun is Dutch. In Everaert, M. et al. (eds.). Morphology and
Modularity, in Honour of Henk Schultink. Dordrecht: Foris. Pp. 57-74.

Booij, G. 1995. The Phonology of Dutch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Booij, G. 2000b. Inflection and Derivation. In Booij, G. et al. (eds.).
Morphology: An International Handbook on Inflection and Word Formation.
Vol. 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Pp. 360-369.

Bybee, J. 1985. Morphology. A Study of the Relation between Meaning and
Form. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Clark, E. 1993. The Lexicon in Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

Dressler, W. U. 1989. Prototypical Differences between Inflection and
Derivation. Zeitschrift fur Phonetic Sprachwissenschaft und
Kommunikationsforschung 42.3-10.

Haas de, W. and M. Trommelen. 1993. Morfologisch Handboek van het
Nederlands. The Hague: SDU Uitgeverij.

Hoekstra, T., M. Lansu, and M. Westerduin. 1987. Complexe Verba. Glot
10. 61-78.

McCarthy, J. and A. Prince. 1986. Prosodic Morphology (RuCCS Technical
Report Series TR-3). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center for Cognitive
Science, Rutgers University.

McCarthy, J. and A. Prince. 1993. Prosodic Morphology I: Constraint
Interaction and Satisfaction. Ms. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
and Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. (forthcoming MIT Press)

McCarthy, J. and A. Prince. 1995. Prosodic Morphology. In Goldsmith, J.
(ed.)Handbook of Phonology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Perlmutter, D. 1988. The Split Morphology Hypothesis: Evidence from
Yiddish. In Hammond, M. and and M. Noonan (eds.). Theoretical
Morphology. San Diego: Academic Press. Pp. 79-100.

Plank, E. 1994. Inflection and Derivation. In Asher, R.E. (ed.). The
Encyclopedia of Languages and Linguistics. Vol. 3. Oxford: Pergamon
Press. 1671-8.

Revithiadou, A. 1999. Headmost Accent Wins. Ph.D. Dissertation.
University of Leiden/ HIL.

Spencer, A. and A. M. Zwicky. 1998. The Handbook of Morphology. Oxford
and Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Williams, E. 1981. On the Notions 'Lexically Related' and 'Head of the
Word'. Linguistic Inquiry 12.245-275.

Marina Tzakosta is a Ph.D. student in the University of Leiden Centre
for Linguistics. Her project is focused on the acquisition of Stress in
Greek in an Optimality Theory framework. Her interests also include
child and adult second language acquisition, bilingualism and SLI.
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