LINGUIST List 15.1797

Fri Jun 11 2004

Review: Syntax/Morphology/Typology:Junghanns & Szucsich

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  1. Gergana Popova, Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information

Message 1: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information

Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 11:26:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: Gergana Popova <>
Subject: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information

EDITOR: Junghanns, Uwe; Szucsich, Luka 
TITLE: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information 
SERIES: Interface Explorations 7 
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter 
YEAR: 2003
Announced at

Gergana Popova
Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex

This volume is a collection of ten papers dealing with a range of
morphosyntactic phenomena in a variety of languages with rich
morphology and within a number of different frameworks. The volume
starts with an introduction by the editors, which describes the
background of the volume, gives a short overview of the importance of
morphosyntactic issues in general and outlines the different
approaches to their solutions. The editors also provide a summary of
the content of each paper. In what follows, I give my own summary of
the papers, and a brief overall discussion.

Tania Avgustinova's paper (''Metagrammar of systematic relations: a
study with special reference to Slavic morphosyntax'', pp. 1-24)
focuses in general terms on the systematic relations that hold between
words in a sentence or in a construction, or between constructions
(syntagmatics). The author builds an ontology of syntagmatics and
integrates into it traditional notions like subcategorisation,
modification, marking, etc. A classification is proposed, which allows
to order these and other concepts in a multiple-inheritance hierarchy
of the kind often used in the framework of Head Driven Phrase
Structure Grammar. Syntagmatics is divided into structural (concerned
with linguistic function) and observable (concerned with linguistic
form). Structural syntagmatics is classified around the notions of
''centricity'', i.e. the idea that one element in a structure might be
dominant over the others (centric structure) or that all elements may
have equal status (acentric structure), and ''taxis'' or the idea that
one element may be subordinated to another (hypotactic structure), or
that no elements may enter into a subordinating relationship
(paratactic structure). Combinations of these types are possible (i.e.
we can have centric hypotaxis, acentric hypotaxis, centric parataxis,
acentric parataxis). Subcategorisation, for example, inherits from the
centric hypotaxis type (since this is a multiple inheritance
hierarchy, subcategorisation might and does inherit from other types
as well).

Similarly, an ontology is proposed for observable syntagmatics, or
those relations that are encoded morphologically. At a high level of
abstraction observable syntagmatics is subclassified into
combinatorial (which would mostly be observable in languages with rich
morphology) and alignment (more relevant to configurational languages
like English). At the lower levels of the hierarchy more familiar
notions are placed (or their equivalents), like agreement, valence,
etc. The concepts discussed by the author are exemplified by data from
Russian and Bulgarian. The ontology is meant to be universal, i.e. to
serve the description of syntagmatic relationships in all languages,
allowing to capture similarities and differences between them. Another
question addressed is finding a theoretical justification of what
relations may in principle hold between two items at the same
time. This is also identified as an area for future research. The
author points out that (apart from their theoretical importance) one
application of the generalisations she makes is to provide an
interlingua between various theories of morphology and syntax.

At the centre of Huba Bartos's article (''On-line morphology: The
morphosyntax of Hungarian verbal inflection'', pp. 25-56) are scope
effects in Hungarian, i.e. cases where affixes with an invariant order
can give rise to (at least two) interpretations where the affixes
scope differently over each other. The author makes three theoretical
assumptions: (i) scope depends on c-command, so that if X c-commands
Y, then X outscopes Y; (ii) within a language the order of functional
projections is invariant; (iii) the Mirror Principle, proposed by
Baker (1985) holds, i.e. there is an isomorphy from syntactic
derivation to morphological derivation. What the author wants to
achieve is an account that will be faithful to these assumptions, but
also to the data (verb inflection for tense, mode and modality and,
less centrally, the so called ''roll-up'' verb clusters in Hungarian)
without appealing to covert movement and without resorting to a purely
semantic account. Bartos assumes a model of morphosyntax which
combines a derivational, minimalist syntax (Chomsky 1995, 1999, 2001)
with a late-insertion model (Distributed Morphology-Halle and Marantz
1993, Marantz 1997). Although he assumes that syntax and morphology
are separate modules with their own properties, they are conceived as
working together, in a syntax-makes-a-step,
then-morphology-makes-a-step fashion. Morphology tries to mirror
syntax, but not vice versa (in this respect Bartos modifies the Mirror
Principle). A morphosyntactic merger operation replaces similar
operations in Distributed Morphology and Minimalism. In essence,
morphosyntactic merger puts two morphological structurally adjacent
entities together (a stem and an affix) and then deletes the
structure, so that it is no longer available at later stages of the
derivation. If there is no affix to instantiate a particular
functional projection, then this projection is void of feature content
and can be featurally fleshed out by other (lower) verbal inflectional
properties. For example, if in the following structure

[MP [M TP [T ModP [Mod VP]]]]

Mood (M) is not instantiated by an affix, it can be fleshed out by
Modality (Mod) by substitution. If this happens, Mod will c-command
Tense (T), so a scopal interpretation will be available where modality
outscopes tense. At the stage this substitution happens, however, in
the morphological derivation the modality affix and subsequently the
tense affix have already been added to the root. The structure has
been deleted, so morphology cannot follow the syntactic substitution.
Therefore, the different scope cannot be mirrored in morphology. If
the substitution does not happen, and modality is featurally fleshed
out in situ, then the scopal relations (tense outscopes modality)
reflect the morphological order. This account explains why different
scopal relations are not possible in structures where all three
affixes (modality, tense and mood) are present.

The paper by Miriam Butt and Louisa Sadler (''Verbal morphology and
agreement in Urdu'', pp. 57-100) builds an account of case and
agreement phenomena in Urdu within the framework of LFG, i.e. within a
lexicalist approach to morphosyntax (whereby syntax and morphology are
different modules of grammar). The interface between morphology and
syntax is seen as consisting of the exchange of syntactic functional
information between them. The authors assume and defend a non-morpheme
based model of morphology, where morphemes don't have lexical entries
with form- meaning correspondences. In Urdu there seems to be a
correspondence between case marking and agreement: the verb agrees
with the subject or with the object, depending on which one is not
marked for case. If both happen to be marked, the verb appears in the
3rd person singular masculine form. Butt and Sadler discuss the
relation between case and agreement more broadly for South Asian
languages and reach the conclusion that the larger empirical basis
speaks against a correlation of case and agreement. The independence
of the two phenomena is supported also by data from pro-drop. The
authors show that case in Urdu (a non-configurational language) is not
a straightforward realization of features, but rather case markers
themselves determine the functional status of the nominals which they
mark and contribute semantic information to the clause level. In this
sense, case in Urdu is constructional (on the understanding of this
term presented in (Nordlinger 1998)). Agreement in Urdu is modeled as
a lexical constraint incorporated in the lexical entry (within
f-structure) of the verb. The verbal lexical entry directly refers to
functional information associated with the nominal, which allows
accounting for the preference of Urdu verbs to agree with unmarked
subjects/objects. Butt and Sadler address a number of problems a
morpheme- based approach might run into given the data discussed in
the paper and argue for a separation of morphology and syntax. They
show that the data can adequately be described in a computational
environment with a finite- state morphology model. Although the
phonological spell-out remains opaque, the functional information
output by the morphology is accessible to the syntax.

Gisella Ferraresi and Maria Goldbach (''Particles and sentence
structure: a historical perspective'', pp. 101-127) see the
interaction between syntax and semantics and/or phonology as a driving
force behind language change (following methodological proposals in
(Keenan 2001) and (Longobardi 2001)). In particular they discuss the
gradual grammaticalisation of the Old French particle ''si'' which
disappeared before it became an affix. In Old French the particle
''si'' is partially grammaticalised. It can function as a phonological
host for object clitics and adverbial clitics, but can also be
cliticised to another element. It can be phonologically independent
and can even be an a sentence initial position, however its behaviour
in poetry suggests that ''si'' is phonologically and metrically
weak. The authors suggests that ''si'' heads its own phrase and
present a syntactic generalisation that will account for its peculiar
distribution, based on the split CP notion of (Rizzi 1997). The
authors suggest that certain phonological changes (weakening of the
first syllable of the clitic group) and the semantic bleaching of
''si'' led to the disappearance of this sentence particle in the 17th
century. This loss is seen as related to the loss of V2 effects in Old
French, as the functional projection headed by ''si'' was no longer
recognised as a separate node in syntax by language learners.

Jaklin Kornfilt (''Subject case in Turkish nominalised clauses'', pp.
129-215) discusses case marking on the subject in Turkish syntactic
nominalisations, defined as 'extended clausal projection[s] with some
nominal functional layers that represent ''nominalisation''' (p. 139).
There are two types of such nominalised clauses: factive/indicative
(they have tense and some verbal properties, are CPs, and can act as
embedded questions or relative clauses) and non-factive/subjunctive
(they have no tense and can sometimes be pluralised or occur with
demonstratives, and are homogeneously DPs and so cannot act as
embedded questions or relative clauses). Kornfilt couches the analysis
in the Principles and Parameters framework. The subject in Turkish
nominalised clauses can carry a genuine subject case or default
case. The genuine subject case is licensed by overt agreement
morphology on the verb. This agreement morphology has to be licensed
itself. This is the case if there is no categorial mismatch
(i.e. nominal agreement is in a nominal extended projection, or verbal
agreement is in a verbal extended projection). If there is a
categorial mismatch, the agreement morphology can be further licensed
by a primary thematic index or by a predicational index. In this
respect the clauses that are in an argument position (and thus receive
a primary thematic index) will behave differently from clauses that
are in an adjunct position. Default case on the (overt) subject is
the non-licensed case. The nature of the default case and constraints
over it are discussed. Korfilt also looks at (overt) subjects which
are not marked for case at all. The author reviews a wealth of data
and presents a number of related analyses, both of Turkish and of
similar phenomena in other languages.

Esther Rinke (''On the licensing of null subjects in Old French'', pp.
217-247) looks at the conditions for licensing null subjects in Old
French. The author starts from the empirical observation that null
subjects in Old French are restricted to certain structural
environments: main clauses with an initial non-subject constituent and
conjugational subordinate clauses which contain a preverbal topic (p.
217). The distribution of omitted referential subjects is explained on
the one hand along the lines of Kato (1999), i.e. with the
availability of a [+pronominal] agreement system. Following Kato (op
cit.), Rinke assumes that in null subject languages the agreement
morphemes have the grammatical status of a pronominal subject. This
explanation, however, is not restrictive enough for the Old French
data, so in addition the analysis utilises Rizzi's (1997) split CP
system with different functional layers (ForceP, TopP, FocP and
FinP. Rinke suggests that the licesing of null subjects depends on the
realisation of Fin. This category is available in precisely the
contexts where null subjects are possible.

Andrew Spencer (''Periphrastic paradigms in Bulgarian'' pp. 249-282)
focuses on the paradigmatic organisation of periphrastic constructions
like the English progressive ('is writing') or passive ('was
written'). The author argues for a non-morpheme, construction based
approach to morphology, within which the notion of paradigm has a
central place. Periphrastic constructions are in paradigmatic
opposition to inflected forms and therefore occupy cells in the
paradigms of lexemes, just like inflected forms of lexemes. Although
they serve as exponents of some morphosyntactic features, the
individual items which enter into the construction are not themselves
bearers of these features (thus neither 'was' not 'written'
contributes the meaning 'passive'). Paradigms with periphrastic
constructions have the same properties as other paradigms: they can be
exhaustive (all and only the expected feature-value combinations are
realised), underexhaustive (morphologically unmotivated gaps can be
found), or superexhaustive (containing more forms that can be expected
under the usual syntactic principles of compositionality), they
exhibit syncretism, cumulation, zero exponence, etc. Properties of
morphological paradigms in general and periphrastic paradigms in
particular are demonstrated through data from English, Russian,
Chukotko- Kamchatkan languages, but primarily through a detailed
analysis and formalisation of the (Emphatic) Renarrated and Conclusive
forms in Bulgarian. An extreme example of the central tenet of the
article is a Bulgarian clausal construction which can be used as a
partial exponent of morphosyntactic features. One of the central
assumptions of the analysis is the separation of morphological and
syntactic features, with the possibility of complex mappings between

Barbara Stiebels's empirical preoccupation in the article entitled
''Transparent, restricted and opaque affix orders'' (pp. 283-315) is
the possibility for some affixes to have a fixed and in other cases
variable order, which affix order may or may not correlate with the
scopal interpretation of the meaning of the affixes. The author's goal
is to ''provide a programmatic and semantically based overview of
possible affix orders within the domain of diathesis morphology: which
diathesis markers may be combined in principle and to which extent is
the resulting morphological structure compositional...''
(p. 286). More specifically, the author aims to show that the Mirror
Principle, as formulated in Baker (1985:375), does not account for the
attested data. The semantic representation of the argument structure
of verbs follows proposals within Lexical Decomposition Grammar
(Joppen and Wunderlich 1995, Wunderlich 1997b, Stiebels
1999). Stiebels reformulates the Mirror Principle in the following
way: ''The affix order must mirror semantic composition'' (p. 291),
but assumes that this principle may be violated by higher ranking
constraints (for example language specific constraints on linking) and
demonstrates how this might work on a wealth of data from languages
like Chichewa, Quechua, Kinyarwanda, etc.

Jochen Trommer's article is entitled ''Direction marking as
agreement'' (pp. 317-339). The Algonquian language Menominee 1st/2nd
person subjects and 3rd person objects are marked by the suffix -a,
whereas 3rd person subjects and 1st/2nd person objects are marked by
-eko. Traditionally this so called 'direction marking' has been
explained with reference to animacy hierarchies.The author proposes to
account for these and related data in terms of agreement, governed by
universal markedness constraints (where constraints are violable and
ranked, in the sense of Optimality Theory). The formal framework
within which the analysis is formulated is Distributed Optimality
(Trommer 2001). Syntactic derivations result in bundles of
morphosyntactic features. Vocabulary items then associate a subset of
these features with some form, i.e. they spell out the features (and
are not allowed to insert features). Morphological constraints can
refer only to small, word- like units, not to syntactic phrases. The
so called PARSE constraints require that certain feature combinations
be spelled out in the output form. PARSE constraints can have the
following form: PARSE [P] A/B, which means that if a syntactic head
contains A next to a B, then the spell out of A is to be preferred
over B. There are also BLOCK constraints, which determine the number
of affixes that are allowed to realise the same feature, and
IMPOVERISH constraints which limit the spell- out of certain features
or combinations thereof via affixes. These are universal but violable
constraints, some of which are linked to feature hierarchies. A number
of such constraints is proposed and ranked in different ways. The
claim of the author is that the different rankings can correctly
predict the different grammars of languages like Turkana, Dumi,
Menominee, Quechua.

Ilse Zimmermann (''On the semantics of cases'', pp. 341-380) aims to
identify a suitable theory for the semantic representation and
licensing of cases. The data for the study are taken from Modern
Russian. Structural cases are modeled via abstract semantico-syntactic
features (+/- higher role /hr/ and +/- lower role (lr)) related to the
hierarchy of arguments, which are mapped to the morphosyntactic
realisation of case markings on complements. The case of adjuncts is
discussed with reference to the instrumental case. The morphosyntactic
case features and the respective case markings on adjuncts are
mediated by semantic templates. To make sure that the right case
markings surface on the arguments of verbs and nouns, Stiebels uses a
number of ranked constraints (within Optimality and Correspondence
Theory). The author also adopts a minimalist framework of
sound-meaning correlation (Chomsky 1995), lexicalist conception of
morphology (Stiebels and Wunderlich 1994; Wunderlich and Fabri 1995;
Wunderlich 1997a?), and the differentiation between Semantic Form and
Conceptual Structure of two- level semantics (Bierwisch 1983, 1987,
1997; Bierwisch and Schreuder 1992; and others).


This collection of papers is a rich source of case studies for those
interested in the interface between syntax, semantics and morphology.
They illustrate different approaches to a number of fundamental
morphological (and morphosyntactic) debates: are morphemes signs, in
other words do they have lexical entries where form is correlated with
meaning; is morphology an independent module, or is it essentially
part of syntactic operations; is the functional information used by
morphology the same as that used by syntax, or can it be different.
Some of the papers contain an explicit formulation of their position
with respect to these issues (for example Butt and Sadler; Spencer;
Trommer), in others this is more implicit.

In all cases the papers illustrate a detailed analysis of a subset of
morphosyntactic phenomena within the linguistic framework chosen. The
wide range of approaches in itself presents the reader with a reward
and a challenge. The reward is obvious. The challenge is in being able
to grasp the workings of each of the frameworks. The papers vary in
the extent to which they accommodate the reader who is not familiar
with the adopted framework: some provide introductions for the
uninitiated, some don't.

Inevitably, there is some relation between the data each paper
discusses and the framework the authors choose to adopt. For example
the treatment of scopal ambiguities is less obvious in a lexicalist,
non-morpheme based framework. So readers might find themselves
wondering how the data in one paper can be accounted for under the
approach of another. This in itself is a positive outcome of reading
this volume.

In sum, this collection of papers is a useful resource for anyone
working or interested in the interface between morphology and syntax.


Baker, Mark (1985) The Mirror principle and morphosyntactic
explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16: 373-415.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1983) Semantische und konzeptuelle Repraesentation
lexikalischer Einheiten. In: Ruzicka, Rudolf and Wolfgang Motsch
(eds.) Untersuchungen zur Semantik. (Studia grammatica 22.) Berlin:
Akademie- Verlag, pp. 61-99.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1987) Semantik der Garduierung. In: Bierwisch,
Manfred and Ewald Lang (eds.) Grammatische und konzeptuelle Aspekte
von Dimensionsadjektiven. (Studia grammatica 26/27.) Berlin: Akademie-
Verlag, pp. 91-286.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1997) Lexical Information from a minimalist point
of view. In: Wilder, Chris, Hans-Martin Gaertner and Manfred Bierwisch
(eds.) The Role of Economy Principles in Linguistic Theory. (Studia
grammatica 40.) Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, pp. 227-266.

Bierwisch, Manfred and Robert Schreuder (1992) From concepts to
lexical items. Cognition 42: 23-60.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MA: The MIT

Chomsky, Noam (1999) Derivation by Phase. Ms., MIT.

Chomsky, Noam (2001) Beyond explanatory adequacy. Ms., MIT.

Halle, Morris and Alec Marantz (1993) Distributed Morphology and the
Pieces of Inflection. In: Samuel Jay Keyser and Ken Hale (eds.) The
View from the Building 20. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, pp. 111-176.

Joppen, Sandra and Dieter Wunderlich (1995) Argument Linking in
Basque. Lingua 97: 123-169.

Kato, Mari (1999) Strong and weak pronominals in the null subject
parameter. Probus 11: 1-37.

Keenan, Edward L. (2001) Explaining the creation of reflexive pronouns
in English. Ms., UCLA.

Longobardi, Giuseppe (2001) Formal syntax, diachronic minimalism, and
etymology: the history of French 'chez'. Linguistic Inquiry 32.2: 275-

Marantz, Alec (1997) No escape from syntax: Don't try morphological
analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon. Upenn Working Papers in
Linguistics 4.2: 201-226.

Nordlinger, Rachel (1998) Constructive Case: Evidence from Australia.
Stanford, California: CSLI Publications.

Rizzi, Luigi (1997) The fine structure of the left periphery. In:
Liliane Haegeman (ed.) Elements of Grammar. Handbook of Generative
Syntax. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 281- 337.

Stiebels, Barbara (1999) Noun-verb symmetries in Nahuatl
nominalisations. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17: 783-836.

Stiebels, Barbara and Dieter Wunderlich (1994) Morphology feeds
syntax: The case of particle verbs. Linguistics: 32:913-968.

Trommer, Jochen (2001) Distributed Optimality. PhD Dissertation,
University of Potsdam.

Wunderlich, Dieter (1997) CAUSE and the structure of verbs. Linguistic
Inquiry 28: 27-68.

Wunderlich, Dieter and Ray Fabri (1995) Minimalist moprhology: An
approach to inflection. Zeitschrift fuer Sprachwissenschaft 14.2: 236-


Gergana Popova is a PhD student at the Department of Language and
Linguistics, University of Essex, UK. She is currently researching
aspect and Aktionsarten in Bulgarian. Her research interests are in
morphology and lexical semantics.
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