LINGUIST List 14.2419

Sat Sep 13 2003

Diss: Syntax/Morphology: Hughes: 'Morphological...'

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. mhughes, Morphological Faithfulness to Syntactic Representations

Message 1: Morphological Faithfulness to Syntactic Representations

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 13:10:39 +0000
From: mhughes <>
Subject: Morphological Faithfulness to Syntactic Representations

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Michael Hughes 

Dissertation Title: Morphological Faithfulness to Syntactic

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: 	Syntax 

Subject Language:	Swedish (code: SWD)
			Icelandic (code: ICE) 
			German, Standard (code:GER)

Dissertation Director 1: David M Perlmutter
Dissertation Director 2: Farrell Ackerman
Dissertation Director 3: Eric Bakovic
Dissertation Director 4: Sharon Rose

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation examines the nature of the syntax-morphology
interface by looking at the phenomenon of Concord within the Noun
Phrase in three Germanic languages (Swedish, Icelandic, and German).
We argue that the Elsewhere Condition, which constitutes the basis of
the syntax-morphology interface in a number of theories, is unable to
account for several alternations in determiner and adjective
inflection found in these languages. We advocate an approach to the
interface in which syntactic terminal nodes and inflected words are
separate theoretical objects in association with each other. Terminal
nodes of syntactic structures consist of bundles of morphosyntactic
features. The output of the lexicon consists of inflected forms,
potentially underspecified for morphosyntactic features, which compete
for association with a targeted node. We show how morphological
blocking effects can be modeled in Optimality Theory in terms of two
constraints that enforce faithfulness of inflected forms to the
morphosyntactic requirements of the containing syntactic
representation. We also show, however, that in Icelandic and German
it is possible for a less faithful inflected form to beat out a more
faithful form under certain circumstances. As a result, we argue that
the constraints that form the basis of the interface in most languages
need to be augmented to account for the Germanic phenomena. In
particular, Icelandic and German provide evidence for a constraint
that seeks to maximize the expression of morphosyntactic features
across the NP, possibly at the expense of maximal faithful expression
of features associated with a given terminal node within the NP. In
addition, German requires an economy constraint on the expression of
morphosyntactic features within the Adjective Phrase. The proposal is
able to account for a number of patterns of inflection that are
unaccounted for in previous accounts.
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