By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
AUTHORS: Aronoff, Mark and Fudeman, Kirsten TITLE: What is Morphology? SUBTITLE: Second Edition SERIES TITLE: Fundamentals of Linguistics PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell YEAR: 2010
Phaedra Royle, School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Université de Montréal
''What is Morphology?'' is an introductory text to the study of word structure. The intended audience is undergraduate students in linguistics but the text is accessible enough for a person from a general audience wanting to understand the basic concepts in morphological theory and practice in linguistics. The book contains eight chapters focusing on different aspects of morphology (morphological analysis and basic concepts underlying morphological theory, words and lexemes, morphophonology, derivation, inflection, morphosyntax and morphological productivity). The monograph also contains a list of abbreviations, remarks on transcription, the most recent IPA chart, a glossary, references and an index. Each chapter contains exercises to deepen understanding of the concepts presented, and is followed by a section on the Kujamaat Jóola language that is intended to be used for exercises on morphological analyses, as well as a section on further readings.
This is the second edition of ''What is Morphology?''. A review of the first edition was published in the LinguistList in 2005 (issue 16.1942). This review will thus focus more specifically on differences between the first and second editions, as well as aspects of the book that were not highlighted by the first reviewer(s). In fact this book has been reviewed and commented on by a number of people, as the back cover, and inner front pages attest. I find myself in the company of giants (Blevins, Maidens, Corbett, Carstairs-McCarthy, Anderson).
The second edition is not just a reprint of the first edition, as the authors have taken comments from previous reviews and edited the book in specific ways related to these comments. Of particular interest to me are the Additional Readings sections at the end of each chapter, which I always find useful. For others, the answer key now available on the Web might be of interest, as the authors respond to the seemingly large amount of requests that had been made for this tool following the first edition. One must register as a professor to access this key on the editor website. The process is relatively simple and I assume it was set in place to avoid students accessing it too easily. It might have been useful to mention in the book that access is restricted. Extra (short) exercises and food for thought have been interspersed into the text as well as boxes containing examples illustrating concepts outlined in the text. Another major change with the previous version is the extent of chapter 8, ''Morphological Productivity and the Lexicon'' (previously called ''Morphological Productivity''): the authors say that they have made significant changes to its content in order to keep it up to date with recent research. In particular, a subsection entitled ''The Mental Lexicon, Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics'' has been added at the end of the chapter (pp. 246-252). Below I will focus more specifically on the content of this chapter (8) and the second one (''Words and Lexemes''). It thus seems that the authors have taken great pains to make what was a well-received book into something even better. However, if you already have the older version of the book and do not intend to use it to teach, I do not think it is necessary to run out and buy the new version. Teachers expecting to use the book for class would probably find the new edition more interesting to use.
The book has a particular structure, first presenting morphological concepts in easily accessible language, without confining the analysis to a specific theoretical framework and then adding a section with practical exercises and a section on Kujamaat Jóola (except in the last chapter, since there is no psycholinguistic or neurolinguistic work on Kujamaat Jóola -- the authors suggest this as a thesis topic for interested students). Each chapter builds on the previous ones without imposing specific analyses or solutions to issues raised, while leaving quite a number of open questions for thought. There are short exercises peppered throughout each chapter, allowing the reader to pause and reflect on the concepts that have just been presented, but also to deepen their learning experience by applying it to a new set of data or to a new example. Every chapter section on Kujamaat Jóola slowly puts the student through the moves of what it is to enact a true morphological analysis (with the advantage of not having an informant we are asking questions to, and having to transcribe and ''organize'' the responses from). This is about as close as I have ever got to my student days at Concordia university in my Non-Indo-European Structures class, when we had to figure out the structure of Oromo from an informant. The discovery of a case-marking pattern, our ''breaking of the linguistic code'', in the pronoun system of Oromo sent us to the moon and back, and this kind of experience is hard to recreate. The fact that this book systematically works through the structure of Kujamaat Jóola is a feature that makes it stand out among introductory books on morphology.
In the chapter on ''Words and Lexemes'', some additions have been made to the discussion of the concept of lexemes. For example, the authors state on page 44 that:
''A lexeme is a theoretical construct. It is not a sound form (e.g., 'dog'), but rather a sign or a set of signs, with sound form, syntax, and meaning all bound together. Because it stands outside any syntactic context beyond the one for which it is lexically specified or subcategorized, it is inherently unspecified for categories that are determined by context and expressed through inflection. Some linguists restrict the class of lexemes to the major lexical categories: noun, verb and adjective/adverb.''
And on the following page, they expand on the properties of lexemes in their text box ''What is a lexeme?''. In particular, they add the notions of theoretical construct, independence from syntactic context, and restrictions on lexical classes described above, in addition to the fact that each lexeme has a particular meaning (viz. homophony). These additions are probably the result of comments or questions raised about the first version, i.e. what is meant by the term 'lexeme'? This same question occurred to me and has in fact been a recurring question throughout my studies, teaching and research career. In fact, I have often found the use of 'lexeme' to be confusing, because it has a number of readings (just as is the problem with 'word' unfortunately); in some of these it is synonymous with 'lemma', another term for an abstract mental representation of 'word'.
The term 'lemma' seems to be used more often by psycholinguists with the meaning that Aronoff and Fudeman propose for 'lexeme', while they use the term 'lexeme' to describe what Aronoff and Fudeman term 'grammatical words'. This last expression is ''[…] generally used to refer specifically to different forms of a single word that occur depending on the syntactic context.'' (p.37) ''Distinct grammatical words can belong to a single lexeme. For example, the grammatical words 'sing' and 'sings' both belong to the lexeme SING.'' (pp.263-64). In addition 'grammatical word' is often used synonymously with 'function word', especially in neurolinguistics, aphasiology and speech language pathology; that is, words that have a syntactic or functional role in language (e.g. prepositions, auxiliaries and determiners), rather than a semantic one.
A review of a number of different authors on morphology has revealed that the use of 'lexeme' and 'lemma' varies greatly. For example, Spencer (1991) uses 'lexeme' in a similar sense to Aronoff and Fudeman, while Levelt (1989), Levelt et al. (1999) and Caramazza (1997) use the term 'lemma' to refer to the abstract concept of a word. 'Lemma' seems to be the preferred term used by psycholinguists and lexicographers, while morphologists prefer 'lexeme'. Why? This is probably due to different traditions in theoretical backgrounds and methodologies. A search of the ''Oxford English Dictionary Online'' and the ''Trésor de la langue française'' online indicate that the term 'lexeme' dates from 1950 in French and was supposedly used as early as 1946 in English by Swadesh, but I do not find this term in his article on Chitimaya phonology referred to in the OED entry. Whorf used this term in his posthumous 1956 book ''Language, Thought and Reality'', and defines it as follows: ''The lexeme [is] the word or stem as an item of vocabulary, and as a part analysed or abstracted from sentence words'' and proposes that while the ''lexeme might be identical with word [or the] lexeme is always different from word'' (p. 132). However, in the same book, we find a reprint of Whorf's appendix to Voeglin's ''Shawnee Stems'' and the Jacob P. Dunn ''Miami Dictionary'' (1938-1940), where he presents the opposition between lexemes and other morphemes in the following way: ''C. F. Voegelin has accomplished the difficult and signal work of analyzing an immense number of baffling stem compounds of Shawnee into their component lexemes (stems) and other morphemes (formatives).'' (p.160) 'Lemma', on the other hand, is used in the dictionary (headword) sense starting in 1951 in English, but earlier in Italian and German according to the OED online. In French, it is first attributed to Chevrie-Muller, in 1974 (TLF Online) in a paper on corpus analyses. Before this 'lemma' was used in logic to identify the initial or main proposition of a theorem (TLF online).
I present the two systems schematically: - LEXEMES vs. Grammatical words (sometimes only content words, depending on the theory) - LEMMATA vs. Lexemes (consisting of content/lexical words and grammatical/function words)
As can be seen, the potential for confusion can be enormous. It might be useful to point out this problem, at least in the chapter on ''Morphological Productivity and the Mental Lexicon'', since in this domain of research the use of 'lemma' is quite the norm, especially in European circles. I now turn to the chapter in question.
In this final chapter, the notions of potentiality (productivity) and possibility (constraints on productivity) are addressed, as well as issues revolving around the psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic study of lexical processing. Not many new studies are presented; however, additional readings that are quite recent and broad are suggested at the end of the chapter. The subsection on morphological constraints on productivity has been rewritten and a box illustrating a morphological constraint to suffixation (suffixes that only affix to underived stems) has been added. On the following page, a box containing examples of phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic constraints on morphological productivity has also been added, as well as an example illustrating the Elsewhere Condition. However, to illustrate this, the authors use the term 'rule' to describe the pluralisation of 'child'. It is unclear to me why this should be called a rule, unless what we mean is that there is some systematic relation between 'child' and 'children' that we can describe in a systematic way (I conceive this relation more as a connection in the lexical domain rather than a rule to form the plural from the singular base). This is not in contradiction with the point of view stated later in the chapter such that ''When multiple words formed by unproductive processes exist, speakers are able to see the patterns that relate them, but this does not mean that the rule is active in the mental grammar.'' (p. 244).
Finally, section 8.6, alluded to above, is completely new. In this section, Aronoff and Fudeman present the notion that psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic studies of comprehension and production (of the Mental Lexicon) can inform linguistic-theoretic morphological models. They highlight the fact that a majority of studies have focused on reading word comprehension (thus overshadowing auditory language processing and production). I think this has mostly been due to technological limits inherent in these approaches. We now know that these limits have slowly been overcome using new approaches, in particular electroencephalography (EEGs) and their Event related potentials (ERPs) (see Bornkessel-Schlesewsky & Schlesewsky, 2009). Aronoff and Fudeman illustrate how this type of research could be applied to Kujamaat Jóola, hoping that the technological issues could be overcome, such that more remote language groups could be studied without necessitating high-cost technology. In fact, this technology exists, as many companies have developed portable EEGs for this type of work. So the only barriers left are (1) Lack of interest in a specific language (and here I am also referring to the difficulties inherent in acquiring funding for this type of research) or (2) Lack of technological and methodological expertise (here I am referring to the fact that not enough linguists know how to run a simple Student T-test, let alone design a solid psycholinguistic or neurolinguistic experiment, or running the complex data analyses necessary with these approaches). Unfortunately, training in these domains is not promoted in the more classic linguistic departments. However, It is highly probable that cross-disciplinary research of this type will take off in the next few years, allowing for the development of a new domain of language research (Bornkessel-Schlesewsky & Schlesewsky, 2009). The potential certainly exists for it.
I must add that I smiled when I read that ''[e]ven if everyone agrees that all words in the mental lexicon have morphological structure, many other issues remain undecided.'' (p. 250). Many researchers would disagree. A recent study by Devlin et al. (2004) using neuroimaging, has the authors arguing that a morphological module is not necessary for the description of neurocognitive processes underlying word access, and that the convergence of semantic and orthographic (or phonological) ''codes'' is sufficient to account for their priming data. Thus the debate on whether morphology exists still rages on, while few studies coming from the domain of linguistics even question or address this issue of the reality of morphology (Royle et al., 2010). There is still much ground to be covered before everyone agrees that words have morphological structure.
Aronoff, Mark. (1994). Morphology by itself: stems and inflectional classes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina & Schlesewsky, Matthias. (2009). Processing Syntax and Morphology: A Neurocognitive Perspective. Oxford University Press.
Caramazza, Alfonzo. (1997). How many levels of processing are there in lexical access? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 14, 177-208.
Chevrie-Muller, Claude. (1974). La Lemmatisation, essai d'analyse mathématique. Travaux de Linguistique et de Littérature, 12(1), 193.
Devlin, Joseph T., Jamison, Helen L., Matthews, Paul M., & Gonnerman, Laura M. (2004). Morphology and the internal structure of words. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 101 (41), 14984-14988.
Levelt, Willem J. M. (1989). Speaking: From Intention to Articulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Levelt, Willem J. M., Roelofs, Ardi, & Meyer, Antje S. (1999). A theory of lexical access in speech production. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 22, 1-75.
Royle, Phaedra, Drury, John E., Bourguignon, Nicolas, & Steinhauer, Karsten. (2010). Morphology and word recognition: An ERP approach. Proceedings of the Canadian Linguistics Association 2010. http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~cla acl/actes2010/actes2010.html
Swadesh, Morris. (1946). Phonologic Formulas for Atakapa-Chitimacha. International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (3), 113-132.
Voegelin, Carl F. (1938-40). Shawnee Stems and the Jacob P. Dunn Miami Dictionary, Indiana Historical Society Prehistory Research Series 1 63-108, 135-167, 289-323, 345-406, 409-478 (1938-1940), Indianapolis.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee. (1956). John Carroll (Ed.) Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Phaedra Royle holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Université de Montréal
and pursued postdoctoral studies at the School of Communication Sciences
and Disorders at McGill University. Her interests lie in psycholinguistics,
neurolinguistics, language disorders (Specific Language Impairment),
language acquisition, morphology and morphosyntax. Her thesis investigated
inflected verb processing in language-impaired French-speaking subjects.
Her postdoctoral research focused on early verb acquisition in
French-speaking children with and without SLI. She is presently carrying
out research on language acquisition (French DPs) and processing of complex
noun phrases in French- and bilingual Spanish-speaking populations, ERP
imaging of morphological processing and agreement, as well as eye-tracking
experiments on morphological processing in French. She holds a
professorship at the School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology at
the Université de Montréal, and is a member of the Centre for Research on
Language, Mind and Brain (Montreal).