How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
Date: 05 Aug 2005 11:04:30 +0100 From: Alexandra Galani Subject: The Grammar of Words: An Introduction to Linguistic Morphology
AUTHOR: Booij, Geert TITLE: The Grammar of Words SUBTITLE: An Introduction to Linguistic Morphology SERIES: Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2005
Alexandra Galani, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK
This textbook is an introduction to morphology. It is a guide of the morphological concepts to unfamiliar students. The book, nevertheless, further examines a variety of theoretical issues and introduces the fundamental methods of morphological analysis. Specifically, it is divided in to five main sections covering not only a great range of purely morphological phenomena (e.g. derivation, compounding, inflection) but also the interfaces between morphology and phonology, morphology and syntax as well as morphology and semantics. Additionally, it discusses the role of morphology in psycholinguistics and language change. A overall structure of the book followed throughout the chapters, is the following: most of the issues which are discussed and the points which are made, are exemplified in a clear and coherent way in the majority of the work. Each chapter concludes with a summary of the main points raised, and is followed by a set of ten questions/exercises and finally references for further reading. Complete lists of typographic conventions (p. viii), abbreviations and symbols (p. xi), figures (p. xii) and tables (p. xiii), references (pp.290-302), language (p.303) and subject (pp.304-308) indexes are also available. Section I: What is Linguistic Morphology? (pp. 1-48) The first section presents an overview of what morphology is all about and introduces the fundamental morphological concepts and processes.
Chapter 1: Morphology: basic notions (pp. 3-26) The first chapter opens with a presentation of the concepts surrounding morphology, such as morphology, inflection, derivation and compounding. The author then moves on to discussing paradigmatic and syntagmatic morphology, offering definitions such as simplex/complex/polymorphemic words, morphemes and morpheme versus lexeme-based morphology. Students are further introduced to the functions of morphology (labelling, recategorisation, coreferentiality) before engaging in to the relation that holds between morphology and the lexicon: lexicalisation, borrowing, univerbation, word creation and lexical integrity are some of the aspects discussed. The chapter concludes with a short reference to the goals of morphology. As for the ten exercises, the students are invited to identify suffixes and stems in a given set of data, discuss cases of blending and bacronyms as well as give the morphological structure of words, amongst others.
Chapter 2: Morphological analysis (pp. 27-48) The second chapter focuses on the atoms of words, morphological operations and aspects of typology. The definitions of stems, zero endings, affixes, cranberry morphemes, allomorphy, suppletion, underlying forms, obstruents, reduplication, category-changing, internal modification, transposition, polysynthetic versus agglutinative languages, morphological, implicational and markedness universals are some of the phenomena which are discussed and exemplified in the present chapter. The exercises mainly shed light on the identification of morphemes and the formulation of morphological rules that account for the formation of the sets of data given by the author.
Section II: Word-Formation (pp. 49-96) The second section of the book is devoted to word-formation as seen in derivational and compounding processes.
Chapter 3: Derivation (pp. 51-74) Chapter 3 sets off with a reference to category-determining processes, such as nominalisations and verbalisations. Williams' (1981) Right-hand Head Rule and the Non- Redundancy Constraint (Ackerman and Goldberg 1996) are explored here alongside inheritance tree and constraints on derivation (e.g. prosodic, stratal, based-driven). Issues of productivity and affix ordering are discussed briefly in the two final sections of the chapter. Students are asked to discuss whether sets of data impose problems for a percolation account, for instance, what determines selection of allomorphs and whether certain morphological patterns can find an explanation along the lines of iconicity. Chapter 4: Compounding (pp. 75-96) Compounding is the topic of chapter four. Types of compounds, the distinction between compounds and phrasal expressions, the differences between compounds and derived words, interfixes and stem allomorphy as well as synthetic compounds and noun incorporation are examined. The exercises aim to test the students' understanding on giving the morphological structure of compounds, formulating the restrictions imposed on possible combinations of categories with English compounds, stating the processes which are involved in the formation of compounds and identifying compound types.
Section III: Inflection (pp. 97-228) In section three, attention is paid on issues surrounding inflectional morphology, ranging from the morphosyntactic categories represented in nominal and verbal inflection to the ways inflectional phenomena are accounted for theoretically.
Chapter 5: Inflection (pp. 99-124) The first chapter of this section examines the sets of morphosyntactic features forms may be inflected for which also allows the author to introduce the properties of forms, such as infinitives and gerunds, to students. The roles of inflection in the construction of sentences are further explored in detail. Here, Booij explains the differences between contextual and inherent, weak and strong inflection. The criteria for distinguishing inflection from derivation are presented in the third section of the present chapter. The discussion turns to be theoretically driven from this point onwards, as the author explores the formal representation of inflectional processes and the component of grammar where inflectional rules apply. The relevant discussion reveals the different theoretical models which have been formulated in the literature from the Item-and-Arrangement, to the Item- and-Process, realisation morphology and Distributed Morphology. The universal ordering of morphemes finally concludes the chapter. Reference is made to Bybee's (1985) work and the models of split morphology and strong lexicalism. The exercises invite students to explore and explain inflectional patterns in data drawn from English, German, French, Dutch, Finnish and Russian.
Chapter 6: Inflectional systems (pp. 125-150) Gender, number and case in nominal systems open chapter six, something which gives rise to the discussion of the Animacy Hierarchy (Corbett 2000), rules of referral, inflectional homonymy and concord. The Tense-Mood-Aspect system (TMA) is presented in detail and further discussed in relation to Bybee's (1985) typological work. The chapter is rounded off with an equally extensive reference to autonomous morphology. The exercises focus on identifying stem forms and further explaining inflectional patterns mainly in relation to agreement, temporal and aspectual features.
Section IV: Interfaces (pp. 151-228) The nature of the discussion in the remaining of the book shifts to a more theoretical level. The interfaces of morphology with phonology, syntax and semantics are explored in the fourth section.
Chapter 7: The interface between morphology and phonology (pp. 153-184) This chapter reveals how morphology may influence the phonological form of a complex word. Optimality Theory, paradigmatically governed allomorphy, morpholexical and morphologically conditioned phonological rules, cyclicity and co-phonologies, autosegmental and prosodic morphology are the central points of attention.
Chapter 8: Morphology and syntax: demarcation and interaction (pp. 185- 206) Aspects around the relation between words and phrases, grammatical functions and case marking, syntactic valency, periphrasis and constructional idioms give rise to the discussion in chapter eight which includes reference to particle verbs, anaphora, Predicate Argument Structure (PAS), linking rules, passivisation, thematic roles and serial verbs. The exercises accompanying the present chapter invite students to explain syntactic valency and explain case marking mainly in passive contexts.
Chapter 9: Morphology and semantics (pp. 207-228) The Compositionality Principle, the differences between meaning and interpretation, conceptualisation rules and bracketing paradoxes surround the discussion around the semantic interpretation of morphological structure. The investigation of syntactic valency of complex words determined by semantic properties further advances the phenomena covered here before the chapter concludes with a fairly extensive reference to the domain of polysemy.
Section V: Morphology and Mind (pp. 229-278) The final section of the book is concerned with the relation that holds between morphology and the organisation of the human mind as well as with what diachronic changes have to tell us about a system, how a language changes and how it is learnt.
Chapter 10: Morphology and sociolinguistics (pp. 231-254) This chapter explains the ways morphological structures and rules are represented in the human brain. Emphasis is placed not only on the properties of the mental lexicon but also on the acquisition of morphology and, of course, on the variety of the models of morphological knowledge. A brief reference to sources of evidence on how morphological information is represented in the mind as well as the ways according to which morphological information is stored, is made in a comprehensive way.
Chapter 11: Morphology and language change (pp. 255-278) The final chapter of the book examines the relation of morphology with respect to language change. It pays attention to the nature of language change by making reference to lexical innovation, internal change, language contact, pidgin and creole languages. The author refers to historic sources of morphology to discuss desyntactisation, dephonologisation, paradigmatic and bidirectional lebelling. Booij further illustrates what sort of changes may occur in morphological rules as well as how changes may affect the word structure in languages.
As a whole, the book is well-organised and -written, coherent and clear. The author covers a great range of morphological concepts, patterns and issues which are briefly but nonetheless, concisely explained and well- exemplified in the vast majority. Evidence is brought forward from a number of languages and language families, although emphasis is placed on the Germanic ones. Coherent definitions of morphological terms are frequently offered. The chapters are generally well-organised and equally presented in length, although particular attention is paid on chapter 6 (on the inflectional systems). Cross-references are also well managed. The conclusive notes of each chapter provide a useful and clear summary of the most fundamental points which have been raised. Furthermore, the discussion in each chapter follows from the one immediately preceding it. The references on further reading are not only appropriate but also necessary.
The most important aspect of this book's value and strength is the fact that it presents a nicely outlined way of "how to do morphological analysis theoretically". A representative example is given on pages 172- 175, when the author discusses the selection of the suffixes -er and -aar in Dutch. Once the facts have been presented, he briefly refers to a theoretical principle before he engages in a possible analysis. Reference is made to previous accounts and he further points out the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative approach. Generally and even from the first section in the first chapter of the book, Booij incorporates the discussion around the fundamental morphological concepts within a wider theoretical perspective. The exercises force students to approach the data critically and explain it along the lines of principles previously discussed in the chapter, instead of simply describing morphological patterns.
Nonetheless, the incorporation even of the basic concepts in to a rather elaborated discussion levels up the nature of the book which makes it advanced in comparison to other introductory books of morphology in the literature, as Haspelmath's (2002) for instance. It renders, on the other hand, more similarities with Spencer's (1991). The author, in several cases, moves straight to the point of interest and omits giving more substantial information in relation to the phenomenon he examines or several points require previous knowledge of the linguistic issues under examination and specifically those which are concerned with the syntax- morphology interface. Consequently, what is not clear is the degree of knowledge of linguistics the author assumes that the students to which the book is addressed might have. Not all students are familiar with the particulars of voice or duality and, some explanatory information could have been further added to. Along these lines, Booij refers to labelled bracketing before explaining the term (page 9). Similarly, he invites students to identify the stem forms in the set of data in exercise 5 of chapter 1 but stems are not discussed until chapter 2. In some instances, information that makes the discussion rather confusing (again, as it takes students to a more advanced level than the rest of the book) or could have been omitted is offered (for example, the IPA chart).
In a couple of cases, additional examples could have been given to illustrate and accompany the phenomena and issues presented. For instance, the actual example from Papuan (page 23) could have been offered to make the discussion clear and the patterns concrete. Additionally, Booij notes that "... there are many more languages that only use suffixes (Turkish is an example) than there are languages that only use prefixes". Here, I guess a very short reference could have been made to a couple of such languages. Such cases are noted in several parts of the book. Their incorporation would have stimulated and rouse the students' interest even more, as it would have allowed them to make comparisons, engage further with the discipline and challenge them theoretically. This would have also been along the lines of morphological analysis put forward in the present work. When the author refers to principles -let's say the compositionality one- the relevant references could have been given briefly.
A couple of final remarks; The author does not mention the importance of morpheme-by-morpheme glossing and this is something which is not always applied in his examples. Consider the Latin example 2 in chapter 5 (slightly reformatted):
A glossary of technical terms could have been added to the extensive lists, tables and indexes. Finally, there is a misprint on the heading of 1.2 section: "Paradigmatic versus syntactic morphology" where it should have been "Paradigmatic versus syntagmatic morphology".
The aforementioned points only aim to point out some implementations which could have been made. I believe that this book can be used as an introductory one to morphology but it is addressed to students with previous knowledge of linguistics above the first year of their undergraduate degree or postgraduates. Some students may also feel that they need to consult a rather less advanced introductory work. Nevertheless, the value of the book should not be down-sided by these points. It presents a diversity of issues, teaches the students how to analyse morphological phenomena, think theoretically and investigate morphological patterns not as isolated cases but as closely related to syntax, phonology, semantics as well as other disciplines of linguistics.
Ackerman, F. and A. Goldberg (1996) Constraints on adjectival past participles. In Goldberg (Ed.), Conceptual structure, discourse and language, 19-30. Standford: CSLI.
Bybee, J. (1985) Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning and form. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Haspelmath, M. (2002) Understanding Morphology, Arnold Publishers.
Spencer, A. (1991) Morphological Theory: An introduction to word structure in Generative Grammar, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Williams, E. (1981) On the notions "Lexically related" and "Head of a word", Linguistic Inquiry 12:245-274.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Alexandra Galani is a member of the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. She has been working on the morphosyntax of tense and aspect in Modern Greek within Distributed Morphology. Her main research interests are: word formation, syntax/morphology interface, morphology/phonology interface, allomorphy, suppletion and the lexicon.