LINGUIST List 12.1861

Thu Jul 19 2001

Review: Stump, Inflectional Morphology

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  • Tania Avgustinova, Review of Stump, Inflectional Morphology

    Message 1: Review of Stump, Inflectional Morphology

    Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2001 12:57:21 +0200
    From: Tania Avgustinova <taniaCoLi.Uni-SB.DE>
    Subject: Review of Stump, Inflectional Morphology

    Stump, Gregory T. (2001) Inflectional Morphology: A Theory of Paradigm Structure (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 93). Cambridge University Press, hardback ISBN: 0-19-512600-9, xvi+308pp.

    Tania Avgustinova, Saarland University

    This book is about Paradigm Function Morphology (PFM) whose guiding idea is that in the domain of inflectional morphology, the primary object of analysis (both for the linguist and the language learner) is the paradigm rather than merely the word. Stump's objective is to develop this idea as precisely as possible in order to demonstrate the particular merits of the theory which it engenders.

    Equating the definition of a language's inflectional morphology with the definition of its paradigm function (a theoretical construct unique to this theory), PFM presumes the existence of several different rule types. Chief among these are paradigm functions, realisation rules, and morphological metageneralisations. These three basic rule types are organised hierarchically. A paradigm function's definition is stated in terms of realisation rules which give morphological expression to a specified set of morphosyntactic properties and whose evaluation is in turn determined by morphological metageneralisations. Realisation rules are of two types: (i) rules of exponence directly specify the concrete exponents associated with the property set being realised; (ii) rules of referral instead refer the realisation of some property set to some other realisation rule(s). When two or more realisation rules are associated with the same morphonological regularity, that association is expressed by means of a morphological metageneralisation.

    The book is organised into eight chapters. The main text is preceded by a list of abbreviations (pp. xiv-xvi) and followed by notes (pp. 277-191), references (292-300) and index (pp. 301-308).

    Chapter 1 "Inferential-realizational morphology" (pp. 1-30) offers a brief contrastive introduction to theories of inflectional morphology, highlighting the evidence which favours realisational theories over incremental ones, namely: 1. The morphosyntactic properties associated with the inflected word may exhibit EXTENDED EXPONENCE in that word's morphology. 2. The morphosyntactic properties associated with an inflected word's individual markings may underdetermine the properties associated with the word as a whole.

    A theory of inflectional morphology that is inferential rather than lexical and realisational rather than incremental minimises empirically unmotivated theoretical distinctions, being compatible with the following assumptions: 1. There is no theoretically significant difference between concatenative and nonconccatenative inflection. 2. Exponence ids the only association between inflectional markings and morphosyntactic properties. 3. An uncompounded word's morphological form is not distinct from its phonological form.

    Chapter 2 "Paradigm functions" (pp. 31-61) presents the fundamental principles and claims underlying PFM and a detailed account of the architecture of the theory. The author examines the nature of morphosyntactic properties and their relationship to the notions of paradigm and paradigm function, the nature of realisation rules and their organisation into blocks, the role of morphonological rules in the evaluation of realisational rules, and the role of realisational rules in the definition of a language's paradigm function.

    A detailed exploration of the evidence motivating the properties of PFM is undertaken in the rest of the book.

    Chapter 3 "Rule competition" (pp. 62-95) concerns the tenability of a principle according to which competition among realisation rules belonging to the same block is resolved in favour of the narrowest applicable rule (Paninian Determinism Hypothesis).

    Chapter 4 "Headedness" (pp.96-137) addresses the question of what determines the incidence of head marking in inflectional morphology. In PFM the phenomenon of head marking can be attributed to the Head-Application Principle, a universal principle for evaluation of paradigm function in the definition of a headed lexeme's paradigm. This principles correctly entails the following empirical generalisations: 1. Paradigm Uniformity Generalisation (PUG): head marking is an all-or-none phenomenon: if a rood ever exhibits head marking in its inflectional paradigm, it always does. 2. Coderivative Uniformity Generalisation: Where X and Y are headed coderivatives (i.e. arise by means of the same category-preserving rule), either X or Y both exhibit head marking or neither does.

    Chapter 5 "Rule blocks" (pp. 138-168) shows that paradigm functions make it possible to provide a satisfactory account of the full range of observable interactions among realisation-rule blocks in the world's languages. Also, an independent motivation is presented for postulation of rules of referral which are essential to the proposed account of portmanteau, parallel, and reversible position classes. The view is promoted that inflectional templates are nothing other than paradigm functions, and thus, all inflectional paradigms are 'templatic', since they always involve paradigm functions.

    Chapter 6 "Stem alternations" (pp. 169-211) addresses the question of why one stem is chosen over another in a particular cell of the inflectional paradigm of a lexeme that exhibits a variety of distinct stems. Following an unpublished work of Arnold Zwicky, the author distinguishes two different sorts of rules serving to determine stem choice: stem-selection rules (a kind of realisation rule) and morphological metageneralisations.

    Chapter 7 "Syncretism" (pp. 212-241) proposes a theory of syncretism. The author argues convincingly that syncretism is not a unitary phenomenon: some types of syncretism are stipulated, while others are not; of those that are, some are directional, while others are not.

    Chapter 8 "Conclusions, extensions, and alternatives" (pp. 242-276) summarises the evidence motivating the introduction of paradigm functions into morphological theory and reviews the principle theoretical claims of PFM. Furthermore, a paradigm-based conception of inflectional semantics is presented and the analogy of derivational 'paradigms' to inflectional paradigms is examined. Finally, the similarities and differences between PFM and Network Morphology are explored, with particular attention to some alternative formulations which the latter theory suggests for the former.

    The postulation of paradigm function makes it possible for PFM to capture several types of generalisation which remain elusive in other frameworks. The author motivates the principal characteristics of PFM with empirical evidence drawn from genetically and typologically diverse languages. Throughout the work, a conscious attempt is made to be as precise and explicit as possible in drawing conclusions, as well as to avoid theoretical preconceptions. A key assumption is "that the rules and principles determining a word's inflectional form are properly morphological (being reducible neither to principles of syntax nor to principles of phonology), and that the interfaces of these rules and principles with other grammatical components are in general extremely limited".

    Tania Avgustinova received her Ph.D. in Slavic and Computational Linguistics at Saarland University. In 1998 she was awarded an individual grant from the German science foundation (DFG) to work on modular language-family oriented grammar design at the Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics in Saarbruecken.