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Review of  Morphology and its Interfaces


Reviewer: Thomas Doukas
Book Title: Morphology and its Interfaces
Book Author: Alexandra Galani Mike Hicks George Tsoulas
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Phonology
Semantics
Syntax
Book Announcement: 23.1149

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Review:
EDITORS: Alexandra Galani, Glyn Hicks, & George Tsoulas
TITLE: Morphology and its Interfaces
SERIES TITLE: Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 178
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2011

Thomas Doukas, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University
of Reading

SUMMARY
This book is a collection of papers presented at the York-Essex Morphology
Meeting held at the University of York in 2006 and the University of Essex in
2007. The book brings together current studies on morphology and its interfaces
from a variety of theoretical approaches. The collection presents a variety of
topics and phenomena on the interfaces between morphology and syntax, semantics,
phonology and the lexicon. The volume provides an introduction to a variety of
frameworks and methodologies with comprehensive case studies.

The book contains 11 papers divided into three thematic sections. The first
section addresses the interfaces between morphology and syntax and phonology.
The second section examines the interfaces between morphology and semantics and
lexicon. The final section contains two chapters discussing morphology in
relation to psycholinguistics and language acquisition. The following presents a
brief summary of each paper with some general remarks.

INTRODUCTION: MORPHOLOGY AND ITS INTERFACES (1-18), ALEXANDRA GALANI, GLYN HICKS
AND GEORGE TSOULAS
The authors of the introduction share common research interests in morphology
and in particular its interfaces with syntax, phonology and semantics and
language acquisition. The introduction discusses central themes of the book,
specifically interfaces between morphology and other modules. The second part
presents a brief summary of the papers included here.

PART 1 – INTERFACES WITH SYNTAX AND PHONOLOGY

CASE CONFLICT IN GREEK FREE RELATIVES: CASE IN SYNTAX AND MORPHOLOGY (21-56),
VASSILIOS SPYROPOULOS
In chapter 1, Spyropoulos investigates case attraction phenomena in Modern Greek
Free Relative (FR) clauses. Case assignment in FR clauses is an instance of case
conflict where the wh-phrase appears in a case different from what is predicted
by its syntactic status in the clause. Spyropoulos examines the properties of
case matching mechanisms in FR clauses and claims that the case properties of
the wh-phrase in FR clauses are the result of a division of labour between
narrow syntax and morphological structure. Spyropoulos builds his argument on
the idea of decomposing case in bundles of features such as [±structural],
[±oblique], [±genitive] and [±inferior]. Case assignment takes place in narrow
syntax but it only refers to those features that are relevant to the distinction
between structural and inherent case. The full specification of the feature
bundles of case consequently takes place at the morphological structure.
Spyropoulos proposes that the conflict between m-case (matrix) vs. r-case
(relative clause) is resolved by means of m-case attraction. Alternatively
r-case is assigned in narrow syntax, whereas m-case is assigned to Do head, not
to the wh-phrase itself; and Do features match the feature of the wh-phrase.

THERE ARE NO SPECIAL CLITICS (57-96), RICARDO BERMÚDEZ-OTERO AND JOHN PAYNE
Bermúdez-Otero and Payne criticise the hypothesis of Clitic Idiosyncrasy,
according to which SPECIAL CLITICS are neither words nor affixes but a special
type of object, regulated by special syntax. The paper focuses on Anderson’s
(2005) claim that special clitics are phrasal affixes controlled in a separate
postlexical component. Bermúdez-Otero and Payne initially argue against special
syntax. Building on heads-and-agreement restrictions and using examples from the
definiteness marker in Bulgarian, Bermúdez-Otero and Payne show that within the
framework of phrasal affixation, certain clitics fail to be placed in the
correct position. They then discuss the prediction of phrasal affixation that
lexical morphological and phonological rules are not sensitive to the presence
of special clitics and therefore special clitics are not visible to the
component of lexical morphophonology. The discussion builds on Catalan and
Spanish clitics, proposing a theory of edge morphology where special clitics are
treated either as independent words (features are transferred to heads) or as
affixes (features are transferred to edges). The edge morphology proposal is
exemplified with the English genitive and the genitive noun phrase in Old
Georgian (Suffixaufnahme).

INFECTIONAL MORPHOLOGY AND SYNTAX IN CORRESPONDENCE: EVIDENCE FROM EUROPEAN
PORTUGUESE (97-135), ANA R. LUÍS AND RYO OTOGURO
Luís and Otoguro look at proclitic pronouns in European Portuguese in terms of
the phrasal and morphological properties they exhibit and how these differ from
other Romance languages, in this case Italian, Spanish. Such properties are (a)
preverbal clitics can be separated by the verb by up to two particles and can
take a wide scope over coordinated verb phrases and (b) their preverbal position
is not dependent on the finiteness of the verb but on a specific set of
particles and phrases in preverbal position. Luís and Otoguro’s account is
discussed within the lexicalist framework of Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG). A
wealth of examples from European Portuguese shows the inflectional properties of
proclitics. For preverbal placement pronominal clitics, Luís and Otoguro abandon
traditional phrase structural positions and assume a linear and functional
precedence system where the functional information contributed by each trigger
f(unction)-precedes the information provided by the pronominal clitics. A new
constituent structure is proposed for the representation of phrasal affixes in
which Luís and Otoguro formulate the mapping relation between morphological
tokens and syntactic atoms. The authors conclude that the complexity of
proclisis in European Portuguese can be accounted for at the morphology-syntax
interface and therefore neither purely phrase structure configurations nor
purely syntactic features can solely account for the nature of preverbal clitics.

AT THE BOUNDARY OF MORPHOLOGY AND SYNTAX: NOUN-NOUN CONSTRUCTIONS IN ENGLISH
(137-168), MELANIE J. BELL
Bell argues against treating noun-noun constructions (NNs) as phrases (syntactic
constructions) in which the first noun modifies the second (Giegerich, 2004).
Building on Bauer’s (1998) suggestion that NNs in English belong to a single
category, Bell proposes a syntactic analysis of NNs in English as compound
words. Bell compares the behaviour of NNs in English and other West Germanic
languages (German and Dutch). In contrast, the lack of inflectional marking does
not allow for agreement between adjective and noun to be motivated in relation
to inflection. Bell then examines the internal structure of phrases and
compounds in English, focusing on adjective-noun and noun-noun constructions.
Drawing on X bar theory (Chomsky, 1970) and rules of recursion, Bell claims that
NNs in English can be accounted for by regular morphological compounding
mechanisms that apply to all Germanic languages. Bell concludes that English NNs
do not exhibit the essential characteristics of phrases and therefore it can be
assumed that NNs belong to the single class of compounds.

PART 2 – INTERFACES WITH SEMANTICS AND THE LEXICON

THE FEATURE OF TENSE AT THE INTERFACE OF MORPHOLOGY AND SEMANTICS (171-194),
ANNA KIBORT
Kibort discusses the notion of tense at the interface of morphology and
semantics, evaluating tense as a grammatical feature realised as a set of
values. Such values often embody the notions of aspect, modality and polarity to
the grammatical expression of tense (TAMP). Kibort, following Stump (2001),
assumes that the values of TAMP are identified through a paradigm where
inflected forms correlate to functions. Kibort consequently outlines the
relevant feature types, focusing on the distinction between morphosyntactic and
morphosemantic features and their multi-representation in various domains
(syntactic phrase, verbal complex or semantic unit). Kibort distinguishes
between contextual and inherent features, the former related to syntax but not
the latter (Booij, 1994). A decision tree of six questions is offered as a
heuristic process for establishing how a feature value has been realised on an
element (agreement or government). Kibort examines three instances of TAMP for
agreement features from Kayardild, an Australian case-stacking language and the
result suggest that the selection of TAMP values is driven by semantic choice in
Kayardild (rather than agreement or government). Kibort concludes that tense is
a morphosemantic rather than a morphosyntactic feature operating at the
interface of morphology and semantics; and as a result, syntax is not sensitive
to verbal tense.

THE ASPECTUAL PROPERTIES OF NOMINALIZATION STRUCTURES (195-220), ARTEMIS ALEXIADOU
Alexiadou studies the aspectual properties of derived nominalisation in Modern
Greek, focusing on the morphological features of class and number from a
syntactic theory point of view. The paper builds on the fact that nominalisation
shares properties of both nouns and verbs. Syntactic approaches to
nominalisation identify the need of such properties to be split into layers.
Alexiadou investigates the relation of these layers (nominal structure) to
aspectual distinctions, especially the ones associated with Aktionsart, first in
Romanian nominalisations and then in Greek nominalisations. The data analysis
focuses on aspectual properties of telicity, perfectivity and boundedness (count
and mass nouns) and takes a closer look at the internal composition of Greek
nominals, providing a series of examples and tests. The analysis shows that
certain nominalisations in Greek are sensitive to aspectual properties.
Alexiadou discusses the internal composition of Greek nominalisations in terms
of the relationships between Number and Aspect and concludes that Greek derived
nominalisations formed with the affix -m- are always atelic (they block
culmination) and therefore resist pluralisation. Alexiadou also proposes two
types of plurality, one available for count nouns and a second one only
available for mass nouns (the latter type not available in the nominalisations).

DETERMINER AND NOUN PHRASE COORDINATION IN MODERN GREEK (221-238), DESPINA KAZANA
Kazana investigates coordinate animate and inanimate nouns and more
specifically, how the definite determiner scopes over these two structures.
Agreement between a noun and its determiner involves the distinction of two
features: CONCORD, a morphosyntactic feature related to the declension class of
a noun and INDEX a semantic feature related to the semantics of a noun and its
agreement with other units such as verb, adjective, pronoun. Kazana discussed
the nature of the definite determiner agreement and gives examples of unexpected
agreement patterns of NP-coordination. She then considers NP-coordination within
the Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG) framework building on King & Darlymple’s
(2004) analysis of determiner agreement. King and Darlymple proposed four
systems of NP-coordination agreement constrained by the features of INDEX and
CONCORD (i.e. either INDEX, CONCORD, both, or neither). Kazana claims that the
CONCORD system best describes the Modern Greek data, with the exception of some
patterns e.g. NP-coordinates with either singular or plural conjuncts. For these
patterns, she introduces two modifications to the CONCORD system, one for
singular coordinated nouns and the second for plural animate and inanimate
nouns. With these two constraints, Kazana assumes the existence a single
definite determiner within the MG lexicon and concludes that such analysis
provides a preliminary solution to the problematic patterns, leaving this open
to further research.

THE PRECONDITIONS FOR SUPPLETION (239-266), KERSTI BÖRJARS AND NIGEL VINCENT
Börjars & Vincent examine the phenomenon of proper suppletion through the study
of one case of suppletion of an adjective in the Mainland Scandinavian
languages. Börjars & Vincent discuss the nature and origins of the phenomenon of
suppletion providing accounts from different theoretical frameworks e.g. Natural
Morphology, Optimality Theory, Distributed Morphology. They then provide a
detailed study of the suppletive paradigm of liten-små (small) in Danish,
Norwegian and Swedish and its historic development. Based on the data, Börjars
& Vincent assume two preconditions for suppletion, i.e. closely related meaning
of the two lexical items and asymmetry between the two items in the sense that
one of the two words has a particular meaning. They then discuss a variety of
possible explanations for the Scandinavian data including Bybee (1985),
Hippisley et al. (2004), Maiden (2004), Corbett (2007), and conclude that the
Scandinavian adjectival paradigm is an example of number suppletion. The study
of the adjectival paradigm in Scandinavian reveals the importance of semantic
factors such as semantic asymmetry (narrow vs. wide meaning of the lexical
items) and the semantic relationship between the two words prior to suppletion.

ARCHI MORPHOLOGY FROM A LEXICOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE (267-288), MARINA CHUMAKINA
Chumakina introduces the development of an electronic dictionary of Archi, a
Daghestanian language spoken by about 1200 people in the Southern Dagestan
region in Russia. The language is morpho-phonologically complex and has a vast
phonetic inventory and very rich inflectional morphology. Chumakina provides a
detailed illustration of Archi’s inflectional morphology based on Kibrik’s
grammar from the 70s. She then gives an overview of the lexicographic work
involved for the development of the dictionary, e.g. the database used,
morphological information provided in lexical entries, glosses, and methodology.
Chumakina also discusses some of the technical and methodological issues
specific to the creation of a dictionary for an unwritten language, such as the
difficulty of obtaining new data from the speakers of the language,
transcription and translation problems, and problems around orthography (Latin
vs. Cyrillic alphabet). Chumakina concludes that this project increased Kibrik’s
dictionary by 1,500 items and with the creation of the Cyrillic based
orthography, Arch is no longer an unwritten language.

PART 3 – INTERFACES IN PSYCHOLINGUISTICS AND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

MORPHOLOGY AND SYNTAX DISSOCIATION IN SLA: A STUDY ON CLITIC ACQUISITION IN
SPANISH (291-320), MARÍA J. ARCHE AND LAURA DOMÍNGUEZ
Arche & Domínguez investigate the L2 acquisition of Spanish clitics by L1
English learners within the Distributed Morphology framework. They explore the
relationships between syntax and morphology in second language learners’
grammars building on feature and agreement decomposition of the Spanish object
clitics. Arche & Domínguez present data from a production and comprehension
tests which assess two current second language acquisition hypotheses, namely,
the Impaired Representation Hypothesis (IRH) and the Missing Surface Inflection
Hypothesis (MSIH). Arche & Domínguez discuss the architecture of grammar in
relation to the acquisition theory, explaining the properties and the syntactic
representation of the Spanish clitics, i.e. inflectional features (case, gender
and number), agreement. They then illustrate the design and methodology of the
production and comprehension tasks. Based on the results of the tests, Arche &
Domínguez claim that inaccurate performance does not indicate an impaired
internal syntactic representation (IRH), but is the consequence of interference
in the post-syntactic mapping to PF and they conclude that their results provide
evidence for a model where morphological make-up takes place at a stage other
than syntax.

THE ROLE OF MORPHOLOGY IN GRAMMATICAL GENDER ASSIGNMENT: A PSYCHOLINGUISTIC
STUDY IN GREEK (321-350), SPYRIDOULA VARLOKOSTA
Varlokosta investigates the role of morphology in gender assignment in Greek
nouns. According to Corbett (1991), grammatical gender assignment involves the
interaction of semantic features such as animacy or sex and morphological and
phonological features. Varlokosta builds on two analyses of grammatical gender
assignment, namely, Ralli (2002, 2003) and Anastasiadi-Symeonidi &
Cheila-Markopoulou (2003). The former's analysis assumes that gender assignment
depends on morphological features, while the latter analysis claims that this is
predicted based on semantic and morphological criteria (the notion of
PROTOTYPICALITY). The study investigates the ability of Greek native speakers to
predict gender in the absence of semantic or phrasal information, based only on
morphological information in a set of novel nouns modelled after real nouns.
Based on the results of the test, Varlokosta claims that the participants use
morphological information (specifically in the noun’s suffix) to predict the
gender in the absence of semantic and phrasal information. These results confirm
both Ralli’s and Anastasiadi-Symeonidi & Cheila-Markopoulou’s claims about the
importance of morphology. Varlokosta also reports on the interaction between
gender type, number of syllables and stress position, and concludes that gender
assignment prediction are part of the speakers’ linguistic competence.

EVALUATION
The editors have brought together a mosaic of research papers related to
morphology and its interfaces. The papers cover a diverse range of topics in
morphology and give a reasonable overview of the different interfaces of various
modules in their interaction with morphology. As one might expect, the themes
and content of the papers vary. Not all of the papers are theoretical studies of
morphology, nor is there in-depth discussion of the theoretical implications of
the results in all of the papers, possibly as a result of length limitations.

The papers offer interesting expansions of previous literature in their
respective topics, and the range should inspire new research in morphology. The
book is well-organised in its thematic sections, allowing for studies and
methodologies to be contrasted and interpreted together. Another merit of the
volume is the analyses of data from a wide variety of typologically different
languages, such as Modern Greek, European Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish,
Kayardild, Bulgarian, Scandinavian and Archi. Therefore, this volume functions
as an excellent summary of ongoing research and benefits theoretical and
experimental morphology while yielding new insight into the field.

What one will find is a collection of easily comprehended studies that can
profitably be read as a way to broaden one's knowledge of morphology and
instigate further reading. Given this, the book will primarily be of interest to
morphologists and, because of its thematic allocation, also to those who
specialise in other fields such as syntax, phonology, and semantics.

REFERENCES
Αnastasiadi-Symeonidi, A. & Cheila-Markopoulou, D. (2003). Συγχρονικές και
Διαχρονικές Τάσεις στο Γένος της Ελληνικής (Μια Θεωρητική Πρόταση) [Synchronic
and Diachronic Tendencies in Modern Greek Gender (A Theoretical Proposal]. In
Αnastasiadi-Symeonidi, Α., Ralli, A. & D. Cheila-Markopoulou (eds.)Tο Γένος
[Gender], pp. 13-56. Αthens: Patakis.

Anderson, S. (2005). Aspects of the theory of clitics. Oxford: Oxford University
Press.

Bauer, L. (1988). Introducing Linguistic Morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press.

Booij, G. (1994). Against Split Morphology. In G. Booij & J. van Marle (eds.)
Yearbook of Morphology 1993, pp. 27-49. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Bybee, J. (1985). Morphology: A Study of the Relation between Meaning and Form.
Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Chomsky, N. (1970). Remarks on Nominalization. In R. Jacobs & P. Rosenbaum
(eds.) Readings in Transformational Grammar, pp. 184-221. Waltham: Ginn.

Corbett, Greville G. (2007). Canonical typology, suppletion and possible words.
Language 83.8-42.

Corbett, Greville G. (1991). Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Giegerich, H.J. (2004). Compound or phrase? English noun-plus-noun constructions
and the stress criterion. English Language and Linguistics 8(1). 1-24.

Hippisley, A., M. Chumakina, Greville G. Corbett & D. Brown. (2004). Suppletion:
frequency, categories and distribution of stems. Studies in Language 28:2. 389-421.

King T.H. & M. Darlymple. (2004). Determiner agreement and noun conjunction.
Journal of Linguistics 1(40). 69-104.

Maiden, M. (2004). When lexemes become allomorphs - on the genesis of
suppletion. Folia Linguistica 38. 227-256.

Ralli, A. (2003) Ο Καθορισμός του Γραμματικού Γένους στα Ουσιαστικά της Νέας
Ελληνικής [Determination of grammatical gender in the nouns of Modern Greek]. In
Αnastasiadi-Symeonidi, Α., Ralli, A. & D. Cheila-Markopoulou (eds.) Tο Γένος
[Gender], pp. 57-99. Αthens: Patakis.

Ralli, Α. 2002. The Role of Morphology in Gender Determination: Evidence from
Modern Greek. Linguistics 40 (3). 519-551.

Stump, Gregory T. (2001). Inflectional morphology: a theory of paradigm
structure: Cambridge studies in linguistics, 93. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Thomas Doukas holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading. His main research interests are in first language acquisition, with focus on the verbal domain of Modern Greek and its interfaces with syntax, semantics and morphology.