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Review of  Lexical Strata in English

Reviewer: Jason Brown
Book Title: Lexical Strata in English
Book Author: Heinz J. Giegerich
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 17.2192

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AUTHOR: Giegerich, Heinz
TITLE: Lexical Strata in English
SUBTITLE: Morphological Causes, Phonological Effects
SERIES: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics, 89
PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press
YEAR: 2005

Jason Brown, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia

This book is a study of Lexical Phonology (how sound alternations interact
with morphology). The argument presented in the book is that contrary to
traditional views of Lexical Phonology whereby stratification is
characterized as affix-based, it should instead be conceptualized as
base-driven. Data from English and German is used to support this
argument. The primary audience includes phonologists, morphologists, and
scholars of the English language.


Chapter 1: A Requiem For Lexical Phonology? This chapter opens with a
discussion of Gussman's (1988) review of Mohanan (1986). In his review,
Gussman characterized Mohanan's book as a ''requiem for lexical phonology''.
The author disagrees with this comment for several reasons (i.e. Mohanan
(1986) should not have been taken as a state of the art of Lexical
Phonology, etc.). The idea that Mohanan (1986) did NOT constitute a
requiem for Lexical Phonology is the idea that drives the book. The author
then discusses the formal similarities and differences between different
approaches to Lexical Phonology, such as Kiparsky (1982) and Halle &
Mohanan (1985). The role of morphology is outlined, as are the errors that
have been made in the past with respect to this role. Finally, the main
concept of the book is presented to the reader. The author's idea is that
strata are not defined in terms of lists of affixes, but by bases of
affixation (such as root, stem, and word). The predictions made by this
move are then outlined, each of which are discussed in later chapters.

Chapter 2: Affix-Driven Stratification: The Grand Illusion. The chapter
begins by assuming that English has two lexical strata. (The claim that it
has only two is supported in chapter 3.) Next, the diagnostics for stratum
membership are given. These include the order of affixes, the category of
the base, productivity, stress shifting (or neutral, as the case may be),
the syllabification of sonorants, phonotactic behavior over various
boundaries, and other base modifications (such as trisyllabic shortening).
The bulk of the chapter presents problematic cases where certain affixes
display properties of both strata. The author draws on specific cases such
as -able/-ible, -ant/-ent, -ee, -er and its variants, -(e)ry, -esque, -ess,
-ette, -ise, -ism and -ist, -ous, -ment, -y, -less, -ness, -ful and -some.
These dual-stratum affixes are a problem for any affix-based analysis, and
a motivation for a different type of approach. The important morphological
generalization that can be made is that stratum 1 affixes attach to either
bound or free bases, whereas affixes in stratum 2 attach to free bases only.

Chapter 3: Principles of Base-Driven Stratification. The chapter begins by
outlining more problems with the affix-driven stratification model. These
problems then lead to the proposed alternative, and the general principles
of the base-stratification model are outlined. The base-stratification
model is a ''unified explanation that follows automatically from a
stratification model whose morphological diagnostics arise from
characteristics of the affixation base...rather than from the diacritic
marking of affixes'' (pg. 53). While it can be shown that only two strata
are necessary to account for the English facts, the German data require an
additional stratum. Thus, while English bases include the categories of
bound root and word, German bases include root, stem and word. Finally,
interactions between strata are discussed.

Chapter 4: Deriving the Strict Cyclicity Effect. This chapter deals with
strict cyclicity effects (SCE; a definition being ''Structure-changing
cyclic rules apply in derived environments only'' (100)), as well as other
related concepts, such as the alternation condition and the elsewhere
condition. The author uses examples from English and German, including
examples of tense vowel shift and mn-simplification to argue for a more
restricted application of SCE. While many authors assume phonological
rules to apply prior to the first morphological stratum, the argument
presented in this chapter is that this is stipulative, and that there
actually is no ''pre-morphology'' cycle. The author concludes that the SCE
only applies on earlier strata, and that the final stratum of the grammar
is not constrained by SCE. It is shown how rule inversion is the result of
the diachronic movement of structure-changing rules into earlier strata.
The properties of the final stratum are the basis of discussion for the
remainder of the chapter.

Chapter 5: Phonology and the Literate Speaker: Orthography in Lexical
Phonology. This chapter discusses schwa-vowel alternations, and shows how
these are not as straightforward as they may appear. Such alternations
include forms like real-reality, totem-totemic, atom-atomic,
autumn-autumnal, deter-deterrent, myrrh-myrrhic, etc., whereby the
morphologically simplex forms have a schwa (or stressed version of schwa)
and the morphologically complex forms have a lax vowel in the same
position. The chapter provides a fairly detailed overview of approaches to
these alternations. Next, the relationship between orthography and
phonology is discussed. In the traditional view, orthography derives
completely from phonology, and not vice versa. The author then shows how
orthography plays a role in the schwa-vowel alternations discussed above.
The conclusion is reached that contrary to the standard view, phonological
representations and orthographic representations are independent. This
independence allows orthographic representations to inform phonological
ones, and is necessary in order to account for phenomena such as linking
and intrusive [r].

Chapter 6: [r]-sandhi and Liaison in RP. This chapter deals with the
phenomena of linking and intrusive [r]. It is shown that both linking and
intrusive [r], while presented as distinct phenomena by various authors,
can actually be considered the same type of thing. First, a deletion
analysis is considered; next, an insertion analysis. The author abandons
both of these approaches in favor of an alternative analysis: that of
liaison, and that [r] and schwa are underlyingly the same and share an
allophonic relationship. The relationship between intrusive and linking
[r], the glides j and w, and schwa are all discussed. It is shown that
[r]-sandhi is parallel to [j] and [w] sandhi in English, and that [r] and
schwa are in complimentary distribution and constitute different surface
realizations of the same underlying material.

Chapter 7: Input Vowels to [r]-sandhi: RP and London English. The
phenomenon of r-sandhi is again taken up in this chapter, with special
emphasis on the representations of diphthongs and monophthongs. The
chapter outlines the various diachronic developments in different dialects
of English, and relates these to the synchronic status of r-sandhi. For
instance, the various stages of RP are discussed, as are ''near-RP'' and
London English for comparison. Finally, the chapter concludes with a
substantial discussion of the inventory of RP vowels, and a summary of the
developments from the previous chapters that relate to the underlying
vowels is provided.

Chapter 8: Syllables and Strata. The focus of this chapter is on
syllabification and its relation to the lexical strata of English and
German. In particular, the focus is on the predictions that the
base-driven stratification model make about syllable structure. There are
two main issues that are dealt with: the relationship between
syllabification and morphology, including the issue of liaison that was
discussed in the previous two chapters, and the possibility of
''stratum-specific characteristics of syllable structure''. It is argued
that the process of syllabification has stratum-specific features and is
not a uniform process throughout derivations, which supports the model of
stratification argued for in the book. Throughout the chapter, evidence is
presented which illustrates the fact that English has two strata, while
German has three.


This book is comprehensive in its scope, and the author is extremely
meticulous in presenting the material. At the back of the book is included
an index of words, roots and affixes, which makes it easy for the reader to
cross-reference morphemes and locate them in the text. The book is
well-written and accessible for audiences that are well-versed in the
mechanics of Lexical Phonology, as well as for audiences who are being
introduced to the theory for the first time.

The book is also an important contribution to the theory of Lexical
Phonology, which has been largely ignored lately in favor of a complete
focus on Optimality Theory. The opening chapter of the book makes this
point very clear. Whereas many phonologists have assumed that Lexical
Phonology is obsolete, they may have done so without understanding the
reasons behind the mechanics of Lexical Phonology in the first place, or
why there was even a theory of Lexical Phonology to begin with. So much of
the evidence that is presented throughout the chapters that is problematic
for the ''affix-driven'' version of Lexical Phonology is bound to be
problematic for ANY theory which doesn't afford some sort of reference to
''base of affixation'' as the present one does. It is this important revival
of theoretical issues that really brings to light just how complicated the
morphology of English (or perhaps any other language) really is, and that
oftentimes what are treated as ''exceptions'' and brushed aside may actually
help to inform a better theory of grammar.

The overall idea is intuitive, and the author provides important and
substantial empirical data to support the claims of the book. Whether this
book is being read from a theoretical or from a more theory-neutral
perspective, it is an essential contribution to the study of English
phonology and morphology.


Gussman, Edmund. 1988. Review of Mohanan (1986). Journal of Linguistics

Halle, Morris & K.P. Mohanan. 1985. Segmental phonology of modern English.
Linguistic Inquiry 16:57-116.

Kiparsky, Paul. 1982. Lexical phonology and morphology. In I.-S. Yang
(ed.), Linguistics in the Morning Calm. Seoul: Hanshin Publishing Co. pp. 3-91.

Mohanan, K.P. 1986. The Theory of Lexical Phonology. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Jason Brown is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of British
Columbia. His research focus is on phonological theory, with special
interests in the phonetics-phonology interface, phonological
representations, and feature theory.

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 052102353X
ISBN-13: N/A
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