LINGUIST List 18.506

Wed Feb 14 2007

Qs: Morphosyntactic Features

Editor for this issue: Kevin Burrows <>

Directory         1.    Anna Kibort, Morphosyntactic Features

Message 1: Morphosyntactic Features
Date: 13-Feb-2007
From: Anna Kibort <>
Subject: Morphosyntactic Features

Dear Colleagues,

As part of a project investigating grammatical features, funded by theESRC, Greville Corbett and I are compiling an inventory of morphosyntacticfeatures found in the world's languages. We are at a stage where we wouldlike to consult you about any possible morphosyntactic features that we mayhave omitted.

Following Zwicky (1985), our terms 'feature' and 'value' correspond toMatthews's (1972/1991) terms 'category' and 'property/feature',respectively. By 'morphosyntactic feature' we mean a feature which in agiven language is involved in either agreement or government. Thus, whilein many familiar languages the feature 'tense' encodes regular semanticdistinctions, it is not required by the syntax through the mechanisms ofeither agreement or government. Therefore, many familiar instances of thefeature 'tense' are *morphosemantic*, but not *morphosyntactic* (Stump2005): syntax is not sensitive to the tense value of the verb. However,tense can be a morphosyntactic feature, as in Kayardild, where elementsmarked with verbalizing case show agreement in tense (Evans 2003).

Below we list features which we have found to be morphosyntactic, andothers which we think are not morphosyntactic, or those whose status wehave not yet determined with certainty. Please let us know if you know of:(1) instances where a feature we consider uncertain *is* morphosyntactic insome language; (2) a morphosyntactic feature that we have not taken intoconsideration at all. Your help will be greatly appreciated and theresults of our research will be shared with the linguistic communitythrough a website which we are currently constructing.

We have found that the following features are, or can be, MORPHOSYNTACTIC:-- gender-- number-- person-- case-- definiteness-- respect-- tense-- aspect-- mood-- polarity

We have NOT found instances of the following features as MORPHOSYNTACTIC:-- associativity (we have only found it as morphosemantic)-- inflectional class (it is purely morphological)-- screeve (we have only found it as morphosemantic)

And the following features, under consideration, are of UNCERTAIN status to us:-- transitivity-- evidentiality-- diathesis and voice-- topic-- focus-- question-word dependency-- (verbal) series (as in Caucasian linguistics; or other paradigmatictense/aspect sets)-- collectivity-- verbal features such as: continuality, inferentiality, dependence, version

With best regards,

Anna Kibort

Linguistic Field(s): Language Description                             Morphology                             Syntax                             Typology