Reading 4

Reading 4 - Rules [begin boxed text] Important questions in...

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Rules [begin boxed text] Important questions in this chapter How are complex words formed? What is a morphological rule? What information does a morphological rule contain? Should concatenation have a privileged status within our theory of morphology? [end boxed text] So far we have talked about morphological structure in mostly static terms: words ‘have’ affixes or ‘share’ parts, they ‘exhibit’ resemblances and they ‘consist of’ a base and an affix. Section 2.4.1 introduced the term morphological pattern to describe the static relationship between, e.g., German Mutter ‘mother’ and M ü tter ‘mothers’. Morphemes such as plural – s ( mother mothers ) are also a kind of morphological pattern. However, it is often convenient to describe morphological patterns as if they were the result of a process or event. Thus, we said that affixes ‘are attached’ to the base or that they ‘combine’ with it. In Mütter the vowel ‘changes’. Linguists use such process terms very frequently. They talk about elements ‘being affixed’ to bases, or about a complex word ‘being derived from’ (i.e. built on the basis of) a simpler one. 1 It is important to keep in mind that when linguists talk about deriving a complex word from a simpler one, this description is often metaphorical. As we saw in Chapter 2, speakers regularly store complex words in the lexicon. These words are not actively formed from simpler ones each time they are used. Still, speakers have the capacity to create, and hearers can understand, an almost unlimited number of new words. The set of words in a language is never quite fixed. There must therefore be some (literal) process 1 It should be noted that the use of the term derive in linguistics is somewhat confusing because it is also commonly applied to inflectional morphology, not just to derivational morphology. Thus, one would say that the comparative form warmer is derived from 1
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by which new complex words are created. And even when a complex word is likely to be already stored in the lexicon, processes can be useful ways to describe the relationship between that word and its base. This chapter gives examples of word-building processes in various languages and shows how they can be described using morphological rules . While linguists agree that rules are needed in any theory of morphology, there is debate about the nature and variety of those rules. A goal of this chapter is to compare two major positions. Linguists who adhere to the first position argue that only one basic type of rule exists – concatenation. This approach is associated with the morpheme-based model of morphology. Proponents of the second position claim that while concatenation is the most common type of rule cross-linguistically, a much wider variety of operations are needed to account for the full range of ways that complex words can be derived. This position is associated with the word-based model. And we shall see, each approach has its
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Reading 4 - Rules [begin boxed text] Important questions in...

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