Deponency is a mismatch between form and function in language that was
first described for Latin, where there is a group of verbs (the deponents)
which are morphologically passive but syntactically active. This is
evidence of a larger problem involving the interface between syntax and
morphology: inflectional morphology is supposed to specify syntactic
function, but sometimes it sends out the wrong signal. Although the problem
is as old as the Western linguistic tradition, no generally accepted
account of it has yet been given, and it is safe to say that all current
theories of language have been constructed as if deponency did not exist.
In recent years, however, linguists have begun to confront its theoretical
implications, albeit largely in isolation from each other. There is as yet
no definitive statement of the problem, nor any generally accepted
definition of its nature and scope.
This volume brings together the findings of leading scholars working in the
area of morphological mismatches, and represents the first book-length
typological and theoretical treatment of the topic. It will establish the
important role that research on deponency has to play in contemporary
linguistics, and set the standard for future work.