Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Style, Mediation, and Change

Edited by Janus Mortensen, Nikolas Coupland, and Jacob Thogersen

Style, Mediation, and Change "Offers a coherent view of style as a unifying concept for the sociolinguistics of talking media."


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Intonation and Prosodic Structure

By Caroline Féry

Intonation and Prosodic Structure "provides a state-of-the-art survey of intonation and prosodic structure."


The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2017 Fund Drive.

Academic Paper


Title: A diachronic frequency account of the allomorphy of some grammatical markers
Author: Thomas Berg
Institution: Universität Hamburg
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Phonology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Allomorphy is a reaction of the morphological system to problems that the unrestrained application of inflectional and other rules creates at the phonological level. These problems are dealt with in some cases but left unattended in others. A diachronic analysis of English reveals that phonemically conditioned allomorphy originates from gradual sound change, with the old and the new variant forming a morphophonological paradigm. The historical stability as well as the synchronic motivation of allomorphy are claimed to be frequency-based. The higher the frequency, the longer the life expectancy. Synchronically, there is a (language- and domain-specific) frequency threshold above which morphophonological variation occurs and below which it fails to occur. The underlying logic of the model is that frequency encourages lexicalization at all linguistic levels. The relative ease with which high-frequency items are accessed enhances the tolerance towards formal variation, hence the emergence of natural phonological rules. As the application of these rules is context-dependent, allomorphy arises as a context-sensitive process. Repair strategies are also argued to be under the sway of frequency. Epenthesis is found in highly frequent structures while coalescence is reserved for less frequent ones. Frequency also determines the scope and the optionality of morphophonological rules. Phonemically governed allomorphy is shown to be a member of the larger family of variationist phenomena which are bound together by their sensitivity to frequency.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 47, Issue 1.

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page