LINGUIST List 14.1639

Wed Jun 11 2003

Review: Morphology/Syntax: Julien (2003)

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  1. Alexandra Galani, Syntactic Heads and Word Formation

Message 1: Syntactic Heads and Word Formation

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 17:21:07 +0000
From: Alexandra Galani <>
Subject: Syntactic Heads and Word Formation

Julien, Marit (2003) Syntactic Heads and Word Formation, Oxford
University Press, Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax.

Announced at

Alexandra Galani, Department of Language and Linguistic Science,
University of York, England.


This book deals with word formation. Specifically, Julien investigates
how morphemes -- the minimal units of form and meaning in language --
are organised in the syntax to form complex words. She is particularly
interested in what determines their organisation. She claims that
words are perceived -- and not formed -- in the syntax and there is no
morphological component based on distributional criteria. Any two
morphemes can adjoin to form a grammatical word, if they are adjacent.
It is, consequently, assumed that grammar does not have any operations
for forming words. Although Julien's work is inspired by the
Distributed Morphology approach to word formation (Halle and Marantz
1993), she deviates from it in not recognising the operation of
morphological merger in her theory. Evidence for her theory is drawn
from 530 languages from all over the world, for which she investigates
word and morpheme order.

The book is divided into six chapters in addition to the introduction
('an overview of the work') and the conclusion with some general
remarks on the nature of words. Appendixes of the symbols and the
abbreviations used (pp.326-329), a survey of word order and verb
morphology in the languages investigated (pp.330-357), references
(pp.331-376), other sources consulted for language classification and
language data (pp.377-399) as well as language (pp.400-402) and
subject indexes (pp.403-407) are also available.

Introduction: An overview of the work

A thorough summary of the main questions and claims which are made in
each of the chapters, is given in this introductory section.

Chapter 1: On syntax and complex words 

In this chapter, the author presents a brief summary of the previous
approaches to word formation (the lexicalist view in generative
grammar and the syntactic approach). She presents the model of grammar
she assumes, and she then moves onto discussing the differences
between phonological and grammatical words. In the final section of
this chapter, she presents some of the results of the survey around
the verbal morphology of the languages she investigated.

Chapter 2: Head movement and complex heads 

In the second chapter, she discusses head-movement as a word-forming
operation. She is particularly interested in what triggers head-
movement. She argues that a strong head feature attracts the next head
and, if the features are not checked, the derivation will crash. She
also claims that excorporation is not possible. The order of the
morphemes is linked to the sequence of heads in the syntactic
structure and it is derived by head-movement. Finally, she also
concludes that the operation of morphological merger is not necessary,
based on the argument that words are always formed by head-movement.

Chapter 3: Head-final languages

The aim of chapter 3 is to discuss head-final languages. She assumes
Kayne's (1994) claim that head-final order, when combined with
suffixing and agglutinating morphology, could be the result of
successive movements of complements to specifier positions.

Chapter 4: Prefixes 

Prefixed verbal inflectional markers are discussed in this
chapter. The main claim is that the inflectional marker and the root
of the verb are syntactic heads which have not been moved in these

Chapter 5: The distribution of verbal markers

The positions in which verbal markers appear in different word orders,
are investigated in this chapter. She concludes that, although
individual morphemes are represented in separate syntactic heads,
agreement markers should not be analysed accordingly. These morphemes
do not have an independent content but they are added to heads with

Chapter 6: On the morphology module 

In the final chapter, Julien argues that discontinuous marking does
not exist, whereas allomorphy and syncretism are morphological
phenomena dealing with how morphemes are spelled-out
morphologically. She, consequently, claims that word formation is a
syntactic process and the morphological component does not exist, as
the positions at which morphemes appear is only determined by the

Conclusion: The nature of words 

This section is a summary of the claims that have been made throughout
the chapters in this book.


As a whole the book is well-organised, coherent and (mostly) user-
friendly. The author presents an enormous amount of data based on
languages belonging to different families from all over the
world. She, generally, presents convincing data for the syntactic
approach to word formation, although it is not particularly clear that
the morphological component does not exist based on the claim that
word formation is all about the positions in which different morphemes

The chapters are generally well-organised and equally presented,
although particular attention has been paid to chapter 3, devoted to
head-final languages. In chapter 1, the discussion about the previous
approaches to word formation could have been implemented, whereas the
discussion around phonological and grammatical words could have been
shorter. Cross-references are generally well-managed. The concluding
remarks after a major discussion, especially once a large proportion
of data has been presented, are particularly welcomed. The theoretical
points are well-supported by rich exemplification. A summary of what
follows is also useful, helping the reader to keep track with the
points invited for discussion next and the data used in each case. The
introductory chapter is well-presented, all issues are mentioned and
the main arguments are provided. The reader is well-prepared as to
what follows. Alternative analyses are also given in many cases where

Nonetheless, there is a number of points I would like to draw the
attention on to:

- p.7: The Hua examples run up to page 275 (from pp. 273-275 and not
p.274, as the author cites).

- p. 67: ''The resulting structure, shown in (14), is repeated here as
(22)''. It is actually (15).

- p.71: Some of the languages mentioned are not included in the index.

- p.73: ''We would say that the highest ... 'stolen' in (33) ...''. It
is actually (32).

- p.204: ''Since the habitual marker in Ewes ...''. It should have
been 'Ewe'.

- p.190: ''If a modal verb is present ...''. The verb 'want' appears
in the relevant example, (5).

- p. 309: ''In the [-1] markers ... in (11)''. It is (10).

- Punctuation marks are missing from several points in the text (due
to space limitations I am not including them here).

- She presents a great range of data but I think a closer look to and
some additional discussion of some of the examples is needed for the
reader's better understanding and, especially, as the discussion
progresses. Perhaps, the frequent incorporation of parts of the data
within the discussion in the main text could have helped the reader.

- p.41: She talks about verb roots in the syntax but in the syntactic
representations she provides, the roots do not appear. Instead, VP is
present. According to Embick (2000) and Galani (2003a, b, c) roots
appear in the syntactic component and the environment they appear in
(nominal or verbal) is determined by the root's local environment in
the syntactic representation. This could be actually an additional
argument for the syntactic approach to word formation she is
proposing: a root is a syntactic category and the formation of
particular words is determined by the syntax. - If word formation can
be seen as a purely syntactic process, where syntax generates the
appropriate structures and determines the morpheme order, it is not
particularly clear how affixes which cannot be interpreted in the
syntactic component (for example, the augment in Modern Greek (Galani
2002b), a prefix inserted in some past verbal forms in order to occupy
the stress -moving to the antepenultimate in the past tenses- when
there is not an available position to do so) are explained.

- In the first chapter, she discusses the differences between
phonological and grammatical words but it feels that the discussion is
not particularly linked to the rest of the claims, at least not until
chapter 4 where she discusses prefixes.

- p.213: ''Furthermore, while the marker of non-imperative mood
precedes the negation in (62), the reverse order is also possible, as
in (64)''. Although she explains the pattern in the first example,
she does not explain the difference/pattern shown in the second

- p. 225-227: Here, she offers some concluding remarks on prefixing,
incorporating grammaticalisation. Although the discussion is very
interesting and could benefit, she does not expand on it.

-p.308: ''Fusion is a syntactic process ... It is not necessarily the
case that there are any specifically morphological aspects to the
phenomenon of fusion''. Galani (2003a, b, c) argues that fusion can be
also be a morphological operation (based on how aspect and voice are
marked on the verb, see also (1) below).

- She claims that allomorphy does not have relevance inside complex
words. Allomorphy is phonologically conditioned. As argued by Galani
(2003a, b, c) regarding the allomorphy theme vowels present in Modern
Greek, allomorphy cannot be only seen as conditioned
phonologically. It might be related to lexical features, stored in the
lexicon, which should be interpreted at the morphological
component. Otherwise, ungrammaticality results. This shows that
morphology should be an independent component, as morphological
operations alter word formation and violations result to
ungrammaticality. This is further supported by Booij (1997) who, as
Juliet mentions, further explains that ''distributional patterns of
allomorphs cannot be deduced from phonological or syntactic
principles'' (Julien 2003:310).

- p.310: ''The Spanish spurious 'se', which appears instead of the
ordinary third person dative clitic if followed by a third person
accusative clitic, is a case in point''. I believe an/the example
should have been given.

- p.335: She claims that the morpheme order in Modern Greek is
V+T/M+S/Agr. Leaving aside V (whether it is a V or a root), it has
been claimed that what follows the verb/root are the morphemes
representing aspect/voice (Smirniotopoulos 1992, Galani 2003a, b, c,
among many others).

(1) (a) kal - 'u - s - a

 (b) k'al - e - s - a 
 root.invite - PERFECTIVE - ACTIVE - 1SG.PAST

 (c) kal - 'umun

 (d) kal - 'e - stik - a

In addition, it is highly debatable how and whether mood is marked in
Modern Greek.

I believe this book provides useful arguments for a syntactic point of
view to word formation based on head-movement, although I support a
complex system of word formation which requires the interaction of
syntax-morphology-phonology (Galani 2002c). The typological value of
the view is also highly appreciated.


Booij, G. (1997). ''Allomorphy and the autonomy of morphology''. Folia
Interlinguistica 31:25-56.

Embick, D. (2000). ''Features, syntax and categories in Latin
perfect''. Linguistic Inquiry 31(2):185-230.

Galani, A. (2002a). ''The morphosyntax of the verbal forms in Modern
Greek''. Interlinguistica 13(2):153-170.

Galani, A. (2002b). ''A DM analysis of the augment in Modern Greek''.
PLUM, Univesity of Manchester.

Galani, A. (2002c). ''Verb formation: morphology or syntax?''. In
ConSOLE Proceedings, University of Leiden.

Galani, A. (2003a). ''An analysis of theme vowels in Modern Greek''.
Interlinguistica 14.

Galani, A. (2003b). ''Word formation: Syntax-morphology interface.
Evidence form the theme vowels in Modern Greek''. Paper presented at
the 16th International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied
Linguistics. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Galani, A. (2003c). ''Allomorphy: Theme vowels in Modern Greek''.
Proceedings of the First Postgraduate Conference in Language Research.
University of Cambridge.

Halle, M. and A. Marantz (1993). ''Distributed Morphology and the
pieces of inflection''. In K. Hale and J. S. Keyer (eds), The view
from building 20: Essays in honour of Sylvain Bromberger. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp.111-178.

Kayne, R. S. (1994). The antisymmetry of syntax. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Smirniotopoulos, J. (1992). Lexical passive in Modern Greek. Doctoral
Dissertation. New York: Garland.


Alexandra Galani is a PhD student at the Department of Language and
Linguistic Science at the University of York, UK. She is currently
working on the morphosyntax of tense and aspect in Modern Greek within
the theoretical framework of Distributed Morphology.
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