It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
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Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 10:30:34 +0200 From: Jonathan White <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: What is Morphology?
AUTHORS: Aronoff, Mark; Fudeman, Kirsten TITLE: What is Morphology? SERIES: Fundamentals of Linguistics PUBLISHER: Blackwell Publishing YEAR: 2005
Jonathan White, Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, Sweden
This book aims to introduce students to morphological analysis who already have basic knowledge of Syntax, Semantics, Phonetics and Phonology. The focus is on important analytical issues that need to be treated by any framework. After going through the book, students will be able to appreciate what a good morphological analysis involves, and what theories of morphology should cover. A particular feature of the book is that the authors concentrate on giving the entire morphological system of a language spoken in Senegal, Kujamaat Joola. Sections on this language come at the end of each chapter, and relate to the discussion in the text.
Chapter 1: Thinking about Morphology and Morphological Analysis The first chapter covers basic terminology like morpheme, morph and the different types of affixes. The fact that speakers can generate novel words by adding morphemes is presented. The authors then look at some basic morphological facts that will be dealt with later on, and differences between languages, such as that some languages mark nouns for plural using an ending while others do not. Basic theoretical ideas like the one that morphology is seen as a system and as a separate component of grammar are also discussed. Finally they cover some basic questions about morphological analysis like allomorphy, and the fact that words cannot always be divided clearly into separate morphemes, as in ablaut past tenses like 'ran' and zero plurals like 'sheep'. The Kunjamaat Joola language is introduced as well.
Chapter 2: Words and Lexemes. This chapter starts with the ways in which the notion of word can be defined. Words as syntactic or phonological objects are covered, as well as tests like the fact that words are not separable. The difference between content and function words is discussed, and this is extended to affixes by discussing derivational and inflectional affixes. Two approaches to analysis are introduced: Item-and-Arrangement and Item-and-Process, including problematic cases like conversion which can be marked by a stress shift. The nature of the lexicon is covered: either as a list of all possible morphemes, or as a list of irregularities. Finally, Kunjamaat Joola noun classes are discussed.
Chapter 3: Morphology and Phonology. Chapter 3 begins with a discussion of allomorphy, and specifically phonological processes like the assimilation that occurs in the pronunciation of the English past ending '-ed'. Two major theories concerning the link between morphology and phonology are introduced: Prosodic Morphology and Lexical Morphology. Next, linguistic exaptation is covered, that is the process whereby morphemes that lose their semantic content as a result of language change are reanalysed -- this happened in English with the vowel changing processes in verbs which originally encoded aspect but changed to encode tense. Finally the morphophonology of secret languages like Pig Latin is dealt with, and that of Kunjamaat Joola.
Chapter 4: Derivation and the Lexicon. The question that is taken up in the fourth chapter is whether the result of derivational morphology is stored in the lexicon or not. This is discussed by looking at compounds and affixation. The fact that speakers can actively generate new word-forms suggests that not all derivational forms are stored. Next, other derivational processes like blending, folk etymology and back-formation are discussed. The hierarchical structure of words is dealt with. Finally, derivational morphology in Kunjamaat Joola is introduced.
Chapter 5: Derivation and Semantics. The fifth chapter deals with the fact that morphemes may be associated with more than one meaning. A few examples of affixes that have more than one meaning are discussed, such as zero-derived verbs and '-er' agentive nouns. The chapter ends with a discussion of derivation and verbs in Kunjamaat Joola.
Chapter 6: Inflection. Chapter 6 begins with a discussion of what inflection is. The fact the affixes can realise more than one feature is covered, as well as the link between inflection and syntax in government/agreement relations. Then inflectional features in languages are presented. Next, the difference between inflection and derivation is discussed. Various inflectional allomorphs are presented, and finally morphological typologies. Agreement in Kunjamaat Joola is discussed at the end.
Chapter 7: Morphology and Syntax. This chapter starts with a discussion of differences in inflection, such as how much inflection languages have, and the different agreement features that are available in languages. The remainder of the chapter deals with grammatical function changing morphology, such as the passive and antipassive, and incorporation. Kanjamaat Joola verb morphology and syntax are presented.
Chapter 8: Morphological Productivity. The final chapter discusses what productivity is, the extent to which elements can be productive, and constraints on productivity. The effect of salience on productivity and ways of testing for productivity are covered.
Overall I thought the authors have a unique approach to the teaching of morphology. The presentation of the issues was good, and I feel that its approach of concentrating on general problems of analysis is particularly interesting. A wide range of problems and theories have been covered. The exercise sets in the text and at the end of the chapters are good complements to the presentation. Students would certainly get a general picture of what morphological analysis is about from going through this material.
I do have a question, though, about the presentation of the theories. Only a few examples have been gone through for each one, and they are different in each case. It would have been nice, in my opinion, to show how the problems have been solved in various theories by giving a more complete analysis of some language under each of the approaches described, presenting advantages and disadvantages. This is maybe something that could be included in later editions as additional exercises.
However, I feel that this book is an important textbook on morphology. It can serve as a bridge between books like Katamba (2005) and more theoretical works like Spencer (1991). The questions I have raised about the presentation of the theory can easily be solved by using this book together with Katamba (1993).
Katamba, F. (1993) Morphology. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Katamba, F. (2005) English Words: Structure, History, Usage (second edition). London: Routledge.
Spencer, A. (1991) Morphological Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
The reviewer's research interests include phrase structure, syntax
and semantics of adverbials, interfaces between syntax and semantics
and between syntax and morphology.