Morphotactics

Course time: 
Monday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 AM
Description: 

The patterns according to which a language’s word forms are internally structured constitute its morphotactics.  In the morpheme-based approaches to morphology that emerged in the twentieth century, a language’s morphotactic principles are constraints on the concatenation of morphemes (a perspective still held by many linguists); in rule-based conceptions of morphology, by contrast, a language’s morphotactic principles are constraints on the interaction of its rules of morphology. In this course, we will examine a wide range of morphotactic phenomena in a variety of languages.  This evidence will be seen to pose significant problems for current conceptions of morphotactics (whether these be construed in morpheme-based or rule-based terms).  We will discuss a theory of morphotactics whose properties are motivated by the need to provide a unified and explanatory account of these phenomena.  The evidence that we examine will include

  • nonmonotonic patterns in which a rule’s domain of application, its productivity, or the content that it realizes depends on its morphotactic context;
  • asymmetrical relations of dependency among rules of morphology;
  • apparent anomalies in the relative ordering of affixes or in the ordering of stem and affix;
  • apparent anomalies in the relations of paradigmatic opposition among a language’s morphological rules;
  • apparent anomalies in the locality of morphotactic conditions;
  • rule order as an inflectional exponent; and
  • the wider implications of an enriched conception of morphotactics for morphological theory.