From: Robert Truswell <robert.truswelltufts.edu>
Subject: Semiproductivity in Grammar
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Semiproductivity in Grammar
Date: 03-May-2008 - 04-May-2008
Location: Medford, MA, USA
Contact: Robert Truswell
Contact Email: robert.truswelltufts.edu
Meeting URL: http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/welcome.html
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories; Morphology; Phonology; Syntax
A two-day workshop hosted by the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University,
exploring semiproductivity in phonology, morphology and syntax from a variety of
Some corners of language appear to be rule-governed and automatic, while others
appear arbitrary and idiosyncratic. However, many cases in all areas of grammar
fall between these two extremes. Such cases are sometimes referred to as
''semiproductive''. To use a famous example from morphology, the suffix '-en'
can successfully verbalize some adjectives to yield words like 'widen',
'redden', and 'blacken', but it fails to do the same thing to 'narrow'
('narrowen'), 'pink' ('pinken'), and 'green' ('greenen'). Similarly, we can say
things like ''take a look'' and ''take a sniff'' but not ''take a touch'' or
''take a smell''. In English phonology, Velar Softening (as in electri[k]-
electri[s]ity) has been discussed as a semi-productive process because it
applies only in certain morphological contexts and with certain lexical items
(cf. Blake - Blakism). In general, the symptom of a semiproductive rule is that
it states a generalization, but one must learn which cases this generalization
actually applies to.
The purpose of this workshop is to explore this elusive category of
generalizations at several levels of grammar (phonology, morphology and syntax)
with hope of getting a grip on such questions as:
Do semi-productive rules of the sort above have a special status or can they be
reduced to idiosyncratic cases that have to be memorized on a case-by-case
basis, or to regular rules enriched with additional structure (e.g.
probabilities, lexical indices, violable inheritance, etc.)?
What, if anything, do semi-productive rules have to do with notions of
frequency, markedness, optionality and regularity?
How can such rules be represented in the internal grammars and lexicons of the
How can semi-productive rules be learned (e.g. how do learners come to
differentiate them from fully productive regular rules)?
Are such rules prone to regularize or are they relatively stable?
Adam Albright (MIT)
Harald Baayen (University of Alberta)
William Croft (University of New Mexico)
Peter Culicover (Ohio State University)
Adele Goldberg (Princeton University)
Laura Gonnerman (McGill University)
Rochelle Lieber (University of New Hampshire)
Donca Steriade (MIT)
Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania)
Kie Zuraw (UCLA)
Registration is free, but please email robert.truswelltufts.edu or
katya.pertsovatufts.edu if you intend to participate.
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