Non-canonicity in Inflection 2019

Страна: Великобритания

Город: Guildford

Тезисы до: 28.02.2019

Даты: 21.06.19 — 22.06.19

Область наук: Филологические;

Е-мейл Оргкомитета: t.feist AT

Организаторы: University of Surrey


Given the diversity of inflection systems, linguists still struggle to find the means to characterise and compare inflectional morphology across languages. The notion of Canonical Inflection provides one method for doing this, by establishing a baseline from which to evaluate the inflectional systems we encounter. In canonical inflection, the stems of individual words remain unchanged between cells of a paradigm, while inflectional exponents are encoded consistently, and uniquely, from one cell to the next. This is by no means common, however. Instead, we find a multitude of deviations from this idealization across the world's languages.

For instance, in Cupeño the verb ‘die’ has suppletive stems: /qaaw/ for singular subjects, but /chix/ for plural subjects. In Dime person indexing on verbs is present for all TAM values, bar the progressive past which leaves person unmarked. In Skolt Saami stem allomorphy can involve up to eleven different stems.

These examples all share the characteristic of splitting the paradigm into different segments. Within each segment, canonical inflection obtains, but the principles shift when you move to a new segment. By taking this more abstract view of non-canonical inflection, we can talk about the relationship between different segments of a split paradigm, independent of what is happening inside them.

For instance, in some cases a split is fully regular in that it occurs across an entire word class, while in other cases it may be an entirely irregular property of the paradigm, restricted to a single lexeme. We can thus talk of a split’s regularity irrespective of whether it manifests itself as suppletion, periphrasis, or some other type of non-canonical inflection. Likewise, a split in a paradigm may result in coherent groupings of cells, or disjunct groupings.

Peering deeper below the surface, this diversity becomes even more apparent. For example, many splits give rise to a paradigm cleaved into two, but in other cases the result is a split three or more ways. Alternatively, distinct factors, each of which results in a split in its own right, may combine forces, and we talk of the resulting split being made up of several COMPONENT splits (e.g. the potential eleven-way split in Skolt Saami stems arises from the combination of a three-way split in consonant gradation, a two-way split in vowel height alternations, and a two-way split in palatalization).

And perhaps the most fascinating splits are those which have a corresponding effect which is external to inflection, say in the syntax: in Serbo-Croat, for instance, the noun ‘eye’ is non-canonical in its inflection, having a singular stem /oko/ and a plural stem /oči/, but crucially the two forms control different genders (neuter in the singular, feminine in the plural). We refer to examples like these as EXTERNAL splits.

Taking this more abstract view of non-canonical inflection, as opposed to looking at individual phenomena in isolation, interesting theoretical questions arise. For example, how should we define the pattern generated by one component split, when a separate component split eliminates the conditions required for the first component to apply in a given sector of the paradigm? Where a paradigmatic split has a corresponding pattern in syntax, is one of these triggered by the other, and why? How stable are complex splits over time? Are splits stored in memory or computed?

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