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Morphological word structure in English and Swedish: the evidence from prosody

  • Trubetzkoy's recognition of a delimitative function of phonology, serving to signal boundaries between morphological units, is expressed in terms of alignment constraints in Optimality Theory, where the relevant constraints require specific morphological boundaries to coincide with phonological structure (Trubetzkoy 1936, 1939, McCarthy & Prince 1993). The approach pursued in the present article is to investigate the distribution of phonological boundary signals to gain insight into the criteria underlying morphological analysis. The evidence from English and Swedish suggests that necessary and sufficient conditions for word-internal morphological analysis concern the recognizability of head constituents, which include the rightmost members of compounds and head affixes. The claim is that the stability of word-internal boundary effects in historical perspective cannot in general be sufficiently explained in terms of memorization and imitation of phonological word form. Rather, these effects indicate a morphological parsing mechanism based on the recognition of word-internal head constituents. Head affixes can be shown to contrast systematically with modifying affixes with respect to syntactic function, semantic content, and prosodic properties. That is, head affixes, which cannot be omitted, often lack inherent meaning and have relatively unmarked boundaries, which can be obscured entirely under specific phonological conditions. By contrast, modifying affixes, which can be omitted, consistently have inherent meaning and have stronger boundaries, which resist prosodic fusion in all phonological contexts. While these correlations are hardly specific to English and Swedish it remains to be investigated to which extent they hold cross-linguistically. The observation that some of the constituents identified on the basis of prosodic evidence lack inherent meaning raises the issue of compositionality. I will argue that certain systematic aspects of word meaning cannot be captured with reference to the syntagmatic level, but require reference to the paradigmatic level instead. The assumption is then that there are two dimensions of morphological analysis: syntagmatic analysis, which centers on the criteria for decomposing words in terms of labelled constituents, and paradigmatic analysis, which centers on the criteria for establishing relations among (whole) words in the mental lexicon. While meaning is intrinsically connected with paradigmatic analysis (e.g. base relations, oppositeness) it is not essential to syntagmatic analysis.

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Author:Renate Raffelsiefen
Parent Title (English):On-line Proceedings of the Fifth Mediterranean Morphology Meeting (MMM5) Fréjus, 15-18 September 2005
Publisher:Universita degli Studi di Bologna
Place of publication:Bologna
Editor:Booij Geert, Ducceschi Luca, Fradin Bernard, Guevara Emiliano, Ralli Angela, Scalise Sergio
Document Type:Conference Proceeding
Year of first Publication:2007
Date of Publication (online):2016/05/30
GND Keyword:Englisch; Morphologie; Prosodie; Schwedisch
First Page:209
Last Page:268
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Sprache / 410 Linguistik
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Linguistics-Classification:Phonetik / Phonologie
Open Access?:Ja
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0 Deutschland