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Review of  Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information

Reviewer: Gergana Popova
Book Title: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information
Book Author: Uwe Junghanns Luka Szucsich
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Issue Number: 15.1797

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Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 14:04:22 +0100
From: Gergana Popova
Subject: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information

EDITOR: Junghanns, Uwe; Szucsich, Luka
TITLE: Syntactic Structures and Morphological Information
SERIES: Interface Explorations 7
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2003

Gergana Popova
Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex

This volume is a collection of ten papers dealing with a range of
morphosyntactic phenomena in a variety of languages with rich
morphology and within a number of different frameworks. The volume
starts with an introduction by the editors, which describes the
background of the volume, gives a short overview of the importance of
morphosyntactic issues in general and outlines the different approaches
to their solutions. The editors also provide a summary of the content
of each paper. In what follows, I give my own summary of the papers,
and a brief overall discussion.

Tania Avgustinova's paper (''Metagrammar of systematic relations: a
study with special reference to Slavic morphosyntax'', pp. 1-24) focuses
in general terms on the systematic relations that hold between words in
a sentence or in a construction, or between constructions
(syntagmatics). The author builds an ontology of syntagmatics and
integrates into it traditional notions like subcategorisation,
modification, marking, etc. A classification is proposed, which allows
to order these and other concepts in a multiple-inheritance hierarchy
of the kind often used in the framework of Head Driven Phrase Structure
Grammar. Syntagmatics is divided into structural (concerned with
linguistic function) and observable (concerned with linguistic form).
Structural syntagmatics is classified around the notions of
''centricity'', i.e. the idea that one element in a structure might be
dominant over the others (centric structure) or that all elements may
have equal status (acentric structure), and ''taxis'' or the idea that
one element may be subordinated to another (hypotactic structure), or
that no elements may enter into a subordinating relationship
(paratactic structure). Combinations of these types are possible (i.e.
we can have centric hypotaxis, acentric hypotaxis, centric parataxis,
acentric parataxis). Subcategorisation, for example, inherits from the
centric hypotaxis type (since this is a multiple inheritance hierarchy,
subcategorisation might and does inherit from other types as well).

Similarly, an ontology is proposed for observable syntagmatics, or
those relations that are encoded morphologically. At a high level of
abstraction observable syntagmatics is subclassified into combinatorial
(which would mostly be observable in languages with rich morphology)
and alignment (more relevant to configurational languages like
English). At the lower levels of the hierarchy more familiar notions
are placed (or their equivalents), like agreement, valence, etc. The
concepts discussed by the author are exemplified by data from Russian
and Bulgarian. The ontology is meant to be universal, i.e. to serve the
description of syntagmatic relationships in all languages, allowing to
capture similarities and differences between them. Another question
addressed is finding a theoretical justification of what relations may
in principle hold between two items at the same time. This is also
identified as an area for future research. The author points out that
(apart from their theoretical importance) one application of the
generalisations she makes is to provide an interlingua between various
theories of morphology and syntax.

At the centre of Huba Bartos's article (''On-line morphology: The
morphosyntax of Hungarian verbal inflection'', pp. 25-56) are scope
effects in Hungarian, i.e. cases where affixes with an invariant order
can give rise to (at least two) interpretations where the affixes scope
differently over each other. The author makes three theoretical
assumptions: (i) scope depends on c-command, so that if X c-commands Y,
then X outscopes Y; (ii) within a language the order of functional
projections is invariant; (iii) the Mirror Principle, proposed by Baker
(1985) holds, i.e. there is an isomorphy from syntactic derivation to
morphological derivation. What the author wants to achieve is an
account that will be faithful to these assumptions, but also to the
data (verb inflection for tense, mode and modality and, less centrally,
the so called ''roll-up'' verb clusters in Hungarian) without appealing
to covert movement and without resorting to a purely semantic account.
Bartos assumes a model of morphosyntax which combines a derivational,
minimalist syntax (Chomsky 1995, 1999, 2001) with a late-insertion
model (Distributed Morphology-Halle and Marantz 1993, Marantz 1997).
Although he assumes that syntax and morphology are separate modules
with their own properties, they are conceived as working together, in a
syntax-makes-a-step, then-morphology-makes-a-step fashion. Morphology
tries to mirror syntax, but not vice versa (in this respect Bartos
modifies the Mirror Principle). A morphosyntactic merger operation
replaces similar operations in Distributed Morphology and Minimalism.
In essence, morphosyntactic merger puts two morphological structurally
adjacent entities together (a stem and an affix) and then deletes the
structure, so that it is no longer available at later stages of the
derivation. If there is no affix to instantiate a particular functional
projection, then this projection is void of feature content and can be
featurally fleshed out by other (lower) verbal inflectional properties.
For example, if in the following structure

[MP [M TP [T ModP [Mod VP]]]]

Mood (M) is not instantiated by an affix, it can be fleshed out by
Modality (Mod) by substitution. If this happens, Mod will c-command
Tense (T), so a scopal interpretation will be available where modality
outscopes tense. At the stage this substitution happens, however, in
the morphological derivation the modality affix and subsequently the
tense affix have already been added to the root. The structure has been
deleted, so morphology cannot follow the syntactic substitution.
Therefore, the different scope cannot be mirrored in morphology. If the
substitution does not happen, and modality is featurally fleshed out in
situ, then the scopal relations (tense outscopes modality) reflect the
morphological order. This account explains why different scopal
relations are not possible in structures where all three affixes
(modality, tense and mood) are present.

The paper by Miriam Butt and Louisa Sadler (''Verbal morphology and
agreement in Urdu'', pp. 57-100) builds an account of case and agreement
phenomena in Urdu within the framework of LFG, i.e. within a lexicalist
approach to morphosyntax (whereby syntax and morphology are different
modules of grammar). The interface between morphology and syntax is
seen as consisting of the exchange of syntactic functional information
between them. The authors assume and defend a non-morpheme based model
of morphology, where morphemes don't have lexical entries with form-
meaning correspondences. In Urdu there seems to be a correspondence
between case marking and agreement: the verb agrees with the subject or
with the object, depending on which one is not marked for case. If both
happen to be marked, the verb appears in the 3rd person singular
masculine form. Butt and Sadler discuss the relation between case and
agreement more broadly for South Asian languages and reach the
conclusion that the larger empirical basis speaks against a correlation
of case and agreement. The independence of the two phenomena is
supported also by data from pro-drop. The authors show that case in
Urdu (a non-configurational language) is not a straightforward
realization of features, but rather case markers themselves determine
the functional status of the nominals which they mark and contribute
semantic information to the clause level. In this sense, case in Urdu
is constructional (on the understanding of this term presented in
(Nordlinger 1998)). Agreement in Urdu is modeled as a lexical
constraint incorporated in the lexical entry (within f-structure) of
the verb. The verbal lexical entry directly refers to functional
information associated with the nominal, which allows accounting for
the preference of Urdu verbs to agree with unmarked subjects/objects.
Butt and Sadler address a number of problems a morpheme- based approach
might run into given the data discussed in the paper and argue for a
separation of morphology and syntax. They show that the data can
adequately be described in a computational environment with a finite-
state morphology model. Although the phonological spell-out remains
opaque, the functional information output by the morphology is
accessible to the syntax.

Gisella Ferraresi and Maria Goldbach (''Particles and sentence
structure: a historical perspective'', pp. 101-127) see the interaction
between syntax and semantics and/or phonology as a driving force behind
language change (following methodological proposals in (Keenan 2001)
and (Longobardi 2001)). In particular they discuss the gradual
grammaticalisation of the Old French particle ''si'' which disappeared
before it became an affix. In Old French the particle ''si'' is partially
grammaticalised. It can function as a phonological host for object
clitics and adverbial clitics, but can also be cliticised to another
element. It can be phonologically independent and can even be an a
sentence initial position, however its behaviour in poetry suggests
that ''si'' is phonologically and metrically weak. The authors suggests
that ''si'' heads its own phrase and present a syntactic generalisation
that will account for its peculiar distribution, based on the split CP
notion of (Rizzi 1997). The authors suggest that certain phonological
changes (weakening of the first syllable of the clitic group) and the
semantic bleaching of ''si'' led to the disappearance of this sentence
particle in the 17th century. This loss is seen as related to the loss
of V2 effects in Old French, as the functional projection headed by
''si'' was no longer recognised as a separate node in syntax by language

Jaklin Kornfilt (''Subject case in Turkish nominalised clauses'', pp.
129-215) discusses case marking on the subject in Turkish syntactic
nominalisations, defined as 'extended clausal projection[s] with some
nominal functional layers that represent ''nominalisation''' (p. 139).
There are two types of such nominalised clauses: factive/indicative
(they have tense and some verbal properties, are CPs, and can act as
embedded questions or relative clauses) and non-factive/subjunctive
(they have no tense and can sometimes be pluralised or occur with
demonstratives, and are homogeneously DPs and so cannot act as embedded
questions or relative clauses). Kornfilt couches the analysis in the
Principles and Parameters framework. The subject in Turkish nominalised
clauses can carry a genuine subject case or default case. The genuine
subject case is licensed by overt agreement morphology on the verb.
This agreement morphology has to be licensed itself. This is the case
if there is no categorial mismatch (i.e. nominal agreement is in a
nominal extended projection, or verbal agreement is in a verbal
extended projection). If there is a categorial mismatch, the agreement
morphology can be further licensed by a primary thematic index or by a
predicational index. In this respect the clauses that are in an
argument position (and thus receive a primary thematic index) will
behave differently from clauses that are in an adjunct position.
Default case on the (overt) subject is the non-licensed case. The
nature of the default case and constraints over it are discussed.
Korfilt also looks at (overt) subjects which are not marked for case at
all. The author reviews a wealth of data and presents a number of
related analyses, both of Turkish and of similar phenomena in other

Esther Rinke (''On the licensing of null subjects in Old French'', pp.
217-247) looks at the conditions for licensing null subjects in Old
French. The author starts from the empirical observation that null
subjects in Old French are restricted to certain structural
environments: main clauses with an initial non-subject constituent and
conjugational subordinate clauses which contain a preverbal topic (p.
217). The distribution of omitted referential subjects is explained on
the one hand along the lines of Kato (1999), i.e. with the availability
of a [+pronominal] agreement system. Following Kato (op cit.), Rinke
assumes that in null subject languages the agreement morphemes have the
grammatical status of a pronominal subject. This explanation, however,
is not restrictive enough for the Old French data, so in addition the
analysis utilises Rizzi's (1997) split CP system with different
functional layers (ForceP, TopP, FocP and FinP. Rinke suggests that the
licesing of null subjects depends on the realisation of Fin. This
category is available in precisely the contexts where null subjects are

Andrew Spencer (''Periphrastic paradigms in Bulgarian'' pp. 249-282)
focuses on the paradigmatic organisation of periphrastic constructions
like the English progressive ('is writing') or passive ('was written').
The author argues for a non-morpheme, construction based approach to
morphology, within which the notion of paradigm has a central place.
Periphrastic constructions are in paradigmatic opposition to inflected
forms and therefore occupy cells in the paradigms of lexemes, just like
inflected forms of lexemes. Although they serve as exponents of some
morphosyntactic features, the individual items which enter into the
construction are not themselves bearers of these features (thus neither
'was' not 'written' contributes the meaning 'passive'). Paradigms with
periphrastic constructions have the same properties as other paradigms:
they can be exhaustive (all and only the expected feature-value
combinations are realised), underexhaustive (morphologically
unmotivated gaps can be found), or superexhaustive (containing more
forms that can be expected under the usual syntactic principles of
compositionality), they exhibit syncretism, cumulation, zero exponence,
etc. Properties of morphological paradigms in general and periphrastic
paradigms in particular are demonstrated through data from English,
Russian, Chukotko- Kamchatkan languages, but primarily through a
detailed analysis and formalisation of the (Emphatic) Renarrated and
Conclusive forms in Bulgarian. An extreme example of the central tenet
of the article is a Bulgarian clausal construction which can be used as
a partial exponent of morphosyntactic features. One of the central
assumptions of the analysis is the separation of morphological and
syntactic features, with the possibility of complex mappings between

Barbara Stiebels's empirical preoccupation in the article entitled
''Transparent, restricted and opaque affix orders'' (pp. 283-315) is the
possibility for some affixes to have a fixed and in other cases
variable order, which affix order may or may not correlate with the
scopal interpretation of the meaning of the affixes. The author's goal
is to ''provide a programmatic and semantically based overview of
possible affix orders within the domain of diathesis morphology: which
diathesis markers may be combined in principle and to which extent is
the resulting morphological structure compositional...'' (p. 286). More
specifically, the author aims to show that the Mirror Principle, as
formulated in Baker (1985:375), does not account for the attested data.
The semantic representation of the argument structure of verbs follows
proposals within Lexical Decomposition Grammar (Joppen and Wunderlich
1995, Wunderlich 1997b, Stiebels 1999). Stiebels reformulates the
Mirror Principle in the following way: ''The affix order must mirror
semantic composition'' (p. 291), but assumes that this principle may be
violated by higher ranking constraints (for example language specific
constraints on linking) and demonstrates how this might work on a
wealth of data from languages like Chichewa, Quechua, Kinyarwanda, etc.

Jochen Trommer's article is entitled ''Direction marking as agreement''
(pp. 317-339). The Algonquian language Menominee 1st/2nd person
subjects and 3rd person objects are marked by the suffix -a, whereas
3rd person subjects and 1st/2nd person objects are marked by -eko.
Traditionally this so called 'direction marking' has been explained
with reference to animacy hierarchies.The author proposes to account
for these and related data in terms of agreement, governed by universal
markedness constraints (where constraints are violable and ranked, in
the sense of Optimality Theory). The formal framework within which the
analysis is formulated is Distributed Optimality (Trommer 2001).
Syntactic derivations result in bundles of morphosyntactic features.
Vocabulary items then associate a subset of these features with some
form, i.e. they spell out the features (and are not allowed to insert
features). Morphological constraints can refer only to small, word-
like units, not to syntactic phrases. The so called PARSE constraints
require that certain feature combinations be spelled out in the output
form. PARSE constraints can have the following form: PARSE [P] A/B,
which means that if a syntactic head contains A next to a B, then the
spell out of A is to be preferred over B. There are also BLOCK
constraints, which determine the number of affixes that are allowed to
realise the same feature, and IMPOVERISH constraints which limit the
spell- out of certain features or combinations thereof via affixes.
These are universal but violable constraints, some of which are linked
to feature hierarchies. A number of such constraints is proposed and
ranked in different ways. The claim of the author is that the different
rankings can correctly predict the different grammars of languages like
Turkana, Dumi, Menominee, Quechua.

Ilse Zimmermann (''On the semantics of cases'', pp. 341-380) aims to
identify a suitable theory for the semantic representation and
licensing of cases. The data for the study are taken from Modern
Russian. Structural cases are modeled via abstract semantico-syntactic
features (+/- higher role /hr/ and +/- lower role (lr)) related to the
hierarchy of arguments, which are mapped to the morphosyntactic
realisation of case markings on complements. The case of adjuncts is
discussed with reference to the instrumental case. The morphosyntactic
case features and the respective case markings on adjuncts are mediated
by semantic templates. To make sure that the right case markings
surface on the arguments of verbs and nouns, Stiebels uses a number of
ranked constraints (within Optimality and Correspondence Theory). The
author also adopts a minimalist framework of sound-meaning correlation
(Chomsky 1995), lexicalist conception of morphology (Stiebels and
Wunderlich 1994; Wunderlich and Fabri 1995; Wunderlich 1997a?), and the
differentiation between Semantic Form and Conceptual Structure of two-
level semantics (Bierwisch 1983, 1987, 1997; Bierwisch and Schreuder
1992; and others).

This collection of papers is a rich source of case studies for those
interested in the interface between syntax, semantics and morphology.
They illustrate different approaches to a number of fundamental
morphological (and morphosyntactic) debates: are morphemes signs, in
other words do they have lexical entries where form is correlated with
meaning; is morphology an independent module, or is it essentially part
of syntactic operations; is the functional information used by
morphology the same as that used by syntax, or can it be different.
Some of the papers contain an explicit formulation of their position
with respect to these issues (for example Butt and Sadler; Spencer;
Trommer), in others this is more implicit.

In all cases the papers illustrate a detailed analysis of a subset of
morphosyntactic phenomena within the linguistic framework chosen. The
wide range of approaches in itself presents the reader with a reward
and a challenge. The reward is obvious. The challenge is in being able
to grasp the workings of each of the frameworks. The papers vary in the
extent to which they accommodate the reader who is not familiar with
the adopted framework: some provide introductions for the uninitiated,
some don't.

Inevitably, there is some relation between the data each paper
discusses and the framework the authors choose to adopt. For example
the treatment of scopal ambiguities is less obvious in a lexicalist,
non-morpheme based framework. So readers might find themselves
wondering how the data in one paper can be accounted for under the
approach of another. This in itself is a positive outcome of reading
this volume.

In sum, this collection of papers is a useful resource for anyone
working or interested in the interface between morphology and syntax.

Baker, Mark (1985) The Mirror principle and morphosyntactic
explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16: 373-415.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1983) Semantische und konzeptuelle Repraesentation
lexikalischer Einheiten. In: Ruzicka, Rudolf and Wolfgang Motsch (eds.)
Untersuchungen zur Semantik. (Studia grammatica 22.) Berlin: Akademie-
Verlag, pp. 61-99.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1987) Semantik der Garduierung. In: Bierwisch,
Manfred and Ewald Lang (eds.) Grammatische und konzeptuelle Aspekte von
Dimensionsadjektiven. (Studia grammatica 26/27.) Berlin: Akademie-
Verlag, pp. 91-286.

Bierwisch, Manfred (1997) Lexical Information from a minimalist point
of view. In: Wilder, Chris, Hans-Martin Gaertner and Manfred Bierwisch
(eds.) The Role of Economy Principles in Linguistic Theory. (Studia
grammatica 40.) Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, pp. 227-266.

Bierwisch, Manfred and Robert Schreuder (1992) From concepts to lexical
items. Cognition 42: 23-60.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MA: The MIT

Chomsky, Noam (1999) Derivation by Phase. Ms., MIT.

Chomsky, Noam (2001) Beyond explanatory adequacy. Ms., MIT.

Halle, Morris and Alec Marantz (1993) Distributed Morphology and the
Pieces of Inflection. In: Samuel Jay Keyser and Ken Hale (eds.) The
View from the Building 20. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, pp. 111-176.

Joppen, Sandra and Dieter Wunderlich (1995) Argument Linking in Basque.
Lingua 97: 123-169.

Kato, Mari (1999) Strong and weak pronominals in the null subject
parameter. Probus 11: 1-37.

Keenan, Edward L. (2001) Explaining the creation of reflexive pronouns
in English. Ms., UCLA.

Longobardi, Giuseppe (2001) Formal syntax, diachronic minimalism, and
etymology: the history of French 'chez'. Linguistic Inquiry 32.2: 275-

Marantz, Alec (1997) No escape from syntax: Don't try morphological
analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon. Upenn Working Papers in
Linguistics 4.2: 201-226.

Nordlinger, Rachel (1998) Constructive Case: Evidence from Australia.
Stanford, California: CSLI Publications.

Rizzi, Luigi (1997) The fine structure of the left periphery. In:
Liliane Haegeman (ed.) Elements of Grammar. Handbook of Generative
Syntax. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 281- 337.

Stiebels, Barbara (1999) Noun-verb symmetries in Nahuatl
nominalisations. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 17: 783-836.

Stiebels, Barbara and Dieter Wunderlich (1994) Morphology feeds syntax:
The case of particle verbs. Linguistics: 32:913-968.

Trommer, Jochen (2001) Distributed Optimality. PhD Dissertation,
University of Potsdam.

Wunderlich, Dieter (1997) CAUSE and the structure of verbs. Linguistic
Inquiry 28: 27-68.

Wunderlich, Dieter and Ray Fabri (1995) Minimalist moprhology: An
approach to inflection. Zeitschrift fuer Sprachwissenschaft 14.2: 236-
Gergana Popova is a PhD student at the Department of Language and
Linguistics, University of Essex, UK. She is currently researching
aspect and Aktionsarten in Bulgarian. Her research interests are in
morphology and lexical semantics.