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Review of Lexical Properties of Selected Non-native Morphemes of English
Date: Sun, 17 Apr 2005 11:23:35 +0300 From: Evanthia Petropoulou Subject: Lexical Properties of Selected Non-native Morphemes of English
AUTHOR: Baeskow, Heike TITLE: Lexical Properties of Selected Non-native Morphemes of English SERIES: Tübinger Beiträge zur Linguistik 482 PUBLISHER: Narr Verlag GmbH + Co. KG YEAR: 2004
Evanthia Petropoulou, Department of Philology, University of Patras
The book presents a feature-based description of complex words in English, containing at least one non-native morpheme which does not occur as an independent word in English. It contains an introduction and two long chapters, dealing with derivation and compounding respectively.
In the introduction the notion of ''compatibility'' between the morphemes involved in a morphological process is presented as an important prerequisite for the process to be successful. In a derivational one, this means that ''the suitability of a base to serve as an input to affixation depends on its lexical properties''(1). Compatibility between affixes and bases can be described either with a Word Formation Rule or a subcategorization frame, but as this is only feasible in cases of bases which constitute independent words in English, belonging to one of the major grammatical categories, other ways are required to show compatibility between bound bases and affixes in words such as 'nihil- ism', 'conscious' and 'mortal'. For this reason, the framework presented by Baeskow is a feature-based one rather than one making use of traditional categorical labels such as N, A, V, etc.
The first chapter of the book introduces in detail, the theoretical framework of this study, a morpheme-based framework, provided by the feature-based theory of word formation, MinLex, initiated by Baeskow (2002), which is in turn based on the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1993, 1995) which dispenses with categorial labels in favour of feature representations of lexical items. Through the presentation of different features ([+/- nominal], [+/- human], phi-features, etc.) the writer shows the advantage of a feature-based theory over a theory using categorial labels in the ''precise specification of the input and the output of derivational processes'' (9). After a discussion favouring a morpheme-based theory of word formation the writer presents a feature-based analysis of derivation, by gradually building up the lexical entry for the suffix '- ism', which is a good example as it constitutes a very productive affix in English and a complex case at the same time, as its derivatives assign to it a dual membership in the affix classes I & II, defined in the theory of Lexical Phonology by selecting both bound roots at Level 1 and free bases at Level 2. For the ''optimal encoding'' of such an item, a phonological feature is required, which constitutes a separate component of the lexicon, referred to as the ''Phonetic Form of Lexical Items (PFLI)''(19). The formal features of a lexical entry are those morphosyntactic features ([+/- count], [+/- concrete], [+/- common], etc.) which serve as the categorial labels, thus making them redundant and in a derivational process are those percolated from an affix to its derivatives.
An important feature is the ''subcategorization frame'' which imposes restrictions on a suffix's potential input (20) and is different from one affix to the other. The subcategorization frame for '-ism' consists of three parts -- all of which are thoroughly built up -- as the potential input of this particular suffix may be classified under the categories N, A and V. The peculiarity of the suffix '-ism', that it selects the same bound bases with the verbal suffix '-ize' (e.g. 'baptism', 'baptize'), creates a challenge, as the relationship of the two suffixes in this respect needs to be shown in the subcategorization frame, but without yielding non-existing forms like *bapt or wrong formations like *baptize- ism. This however gives Baeskow the opportunity to show the advantage of a feature-based theory with a morpheme-based approach, where features can be assigned both to the suffix '-ize' and to the bound root 'bapt-', thus making it available for selection to the suffix '-ism' via the operations SELECT and INSERT (26). Under this process, in the theory described, ''derivational processes are thus morpheme-based although affixes are allowed to make use of the lexical content of the lexemes realized by certain bound roots'' (27). The semantic representation of the lexical entry reveals only the approximate meaning of lexical items, while the formal representation, just like the phonological information which is processed at PFLI, belongs to the separate lexical interface level LFLI, which also interacts with the lexical entries.
After completing the lexical entry for a suffix, Baeskow deals with the specification of the lexical properties of those non-native morphemes similar to 'bapt-' serving as bases in some specific derivatives, which are not part of the English language, such as 'nihil-', 'credul-', 'manu-', etc. Their compatibility with the suffixes '-ism', '-ous' and '-al' respectively is difficult to be represented in the subcategorization frame of each suffix, because they lack morphosyntactic properties other than [-Germanic]. Various solutions are examined by Baeskow who adopts that of a ''configuration frame'' for each of these morphemes which indicates specific suffixes and in this way accounts for the compatibility between the morphemes and the suffixes, preventing overgeneration at the same time. An important point raised by Baeskow, throughout this chapter is that the interpretability of foreign bases varies among the speakers of English, as there are people not only with intuitions about the 'foreignness' of some of these morphemes but also with a partial or more extensive knowledge of Latin or Greek etymology. Thus, under an ''optional diachronic perspective'', MinLex should also include some etymological information, referred to as the ''epsilon-feature''. Considering also the fact that some word formation patterns in the languages of origin have been transferred to English, as the case of 'baptize' and 'baptism' indicates, the epsilon-feature could also include this kind of information apart from that concerning the origin of the bound morpheme (i.e. [+ Greek] / [+ Latin]).
The second half of the book deals with the other major word formation process involving non-native morphemes, namely compounding, or so- called ''neoclassical compounding''. A great part is devoted to presenting and reviewing the already existing analyses concerning the treatment of the constituents of neoclassical compounds and the processes in which they are involved. Concluding on the one hand, that these morphemes do not constitute affixes and on the other, that they cannot be treated as regular compounds either, Baeskow treats them under a special class of compounds. She then presents the different types of compounds involving non-native formatives starting from the prototype of neoclassical compounding and moving to cases diverging from it. As for the prototype, Baeskow argues that it concerns 1) the combination of two or more bound roots of classical origin, as for example in 'microscope', 'telephone', 'geograph-' (72), or 2) the combination of a free and a bound root, both of which are classical in origin, such as 'zoolog-', 'biolog-', 'oceanograph-' (73). There are few discrepancies here, though. First, it is not specified whether the items constituting prototypical neoclassical compounds are free lexemes or bound compound bases. For example, 'microscope' and 'telephone' are independent words in English, while 'zoolog-' and 'oceanograph-' are not lexemes, but potential bases for derivation. Second, in category 2) there is semantic evidence against the view that 'zoo' in 'zoolog-' is an independent word in English, as in this case it refers to the Greek zóon (= animal), not to the area where animals are kept. If the above combinations, described as prototypes ''are selected by suffixes we obtain well-formed sequences like biolog-y, [...] geograph-er,'' (73) etc., a process described by Cannon (1992) as ''neoclassical compound derivation'' (488). However, if we assume that the latter process yields lexemes, then what morphological process assigns a lexemic status to the above mentioned 'telephone' and 'microscope'?
The discussion then moves to ''hybrid formations'' (74), which combine native free with neoclassical bound morphemes. As the writer notes, these constitute violations of the classical word formation pattern (77), found in 'biology', 'anthropomorphic' (ten Hacken 1994), 'geographer' and so on, which actually imitate the formation pattern of Greek compounds (Ralli 2005), for example [[bio (stem) + log (stem)] -ia (deriv. suffix)], as the formations 'baptize' and 'baptism', mentioned earlier, do. Baeskow, examines separately formations of the type 'native root + FCF', for e.g. 'hamburgerology' or 'jazzophile' and of the type, i.e. native lexeme, for e.g. 'telecommunications', 'microgroove' and 'biofeedback' (the terms ICF and FCF, introduced by Bauer (1983), and here used throughout the whole chapter, Baeskow explains, ''constitute rather abstract notions for the position a bound root can occupy within a neoclassical compound'' (91) and are used for convenience).
Formations of the second type, 'ICF + freely occurring constituent', are considered as violating the Level ordering, causing a discrepancy in the hierarchy of MinLex. What the writer correctly proposes, is that elements such as 'micro-', 'tele-' and 'bio-' could be ''reinterpreted'' as class II prefixes without being recategorized as affixes (78) and can thus combine with free native constituents, be they simple or complex at level 2. Then formations like 'microgroove' and 'biofeedback' would be normally generated. Indeed, as it has been elsewhere stated, there are certain Greek and Latin prefixes which have retained the status of a prefix in English, such as 'hypo-', 'meta-', 'intra-', 'supra-' (Adams 2001), and some neoclassical formatives which are in the process of becoming prefixes, such as 'bio-', 'techno-'. Warren (1990) notes that ''we find combining forms, particularly among initial combining forms, which have developed characteristics of affixes'', citing 'pseudo-' and neo-' as examples (124). A close look at the combinations of 'bio-' and 'techno-' with native lexemes from a semantic viewpoint reveals that they are different from those in prototypical neoclassical compounds. 'Bio-' in 'biocomputer' and 'biophysics' refers to 'biology' and would rather be considered a clipped form, as 'techno-' in 'technofreak' refers to 'technology'. Bauer (1983) discusses 'bio-' in the same respect as being a very productive formative occurring in many word families, citing a dictionary's definition of it, as 'biological' (Barnhart et al. 1973). In the end of this section, Baeskow further supports the behavior of these elements as class II prefixes, at the phonological level.
The last section in turn contains the feature representation of the bound morphemes previously discussed, which is gradually built up mainly for the bound morpheme 'phon', as it was for the suffix '-ism' in the previous chapter and shares with it many features. One important difference is that the lexical entry for 'phon' includes a configuration frame instead of a subcategorization frame, as that of 'nihil', because as it has been argued in the theoretical discussion, neoclassical bound roots appearing both in word-initial and word-final position are not affixes. The configuration frame also includes the thematic vowel 'o' or 'i', which is shown to be determined by the word-initial neoclassical formative and at PFLI is represented as a floating vowel. According to this, a linking vowel is inserted depending on the ending of what functions as an ICF each time, be it a neoclassical combining form (e.g. 'phon') or a lexeme turning to an ICF (e.g. 'magnet'). The neoclassical formative 'path', however, receives ICFs which either end in a vowel (e.g. 'allopathy', 'antipathy', 'telepathy'), or in a consonant and do not require the epenthesis of 'o', such as 'syn' and 'en', which assimilate the /n/ to /m/ before the voiceless bilabial stop /p/ (e.g. in 'sympathy' and 'empathy'). For this reason, it is suggested that a configuration frame idiosyncratic to 'path' is created (95). However, it has to be pointed out here, that this is not valid only for 'path', but also for 'phon' in 'symphony' and 'chron' in 'synchrony' and many others, because what they receive is actually a prefix and not a stem. Prefixes are different from other combining morphemes, they appear only word initially and if they end in a consonant, in most cases, this is assimilated before the next consonant. The reason why there is no linking vowel in the words 'sympathy', 'empathy', 'synchrony', 'symphony', 'synthetic' and others is because they constitute cases of derivation rather than compounding and the linking vowel appears only in compounding. So, they should be treated in a different way from other word-initial combining forms. In my opinion, the problem arising here is partly due to the overuse of the terms 'ICF' and 'FCF', which are used for convenience, but do not discern between different kinds of formatives. Finally, the chapter ends with an optional etymological component for bi- or multilingual speakers.
This book succeeds in presenting us with the lexical properties of selected non-native morphemes in English. It does not only provide us with unique complete feature-based descriptions of the selected items, but from a theoretical point of view, it offers well-founded argumentation for the points it asserts from many fields of linguistics apart from morphology, such as semantics, phonology and first language acquisition, an important characteristic of scientifically good study. Although, it could be argued that the selective treatment it offers does not suffice for all cases, an enterprise that would only be feasible within a project on a large-scale basis, it has to be noted that the selection of the particular morphemes offers very important insights and makes their treatment suitable to serve as an example for the treatment of other non-native morphemes.
Adams, Valerie (2001) Complex Words in English. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.
Baeskow, Heike (2002) Abgeleitete Personenbezeichnungen im Deutschen und Englischen. Kontrastive Wortbildungsanalysen im Rahmen des Minimalistischen Programms und unter Berücksichtigung sprachhistorischer Aspekte. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (Dissertation, Universität Wuppertal 2001).
Barnhart, Robert K., Sol Steinmetz and Clarence L. Barnhart (1990) Third Barnhart Dictionary of New English. New York: Wilson.
Bauer, Laurie (1983) English Word Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cannon, G. (1992) ''Bound-Morpheme Items: New Patterns of Derivation'' in: C. Blank (ed): Language and Civilization: A Concerted Profusion of Essays and Studies in Honour of Otto Hietsch. Frankfurt: Peter Lang Publishers, pp. 478-494.
Chomsky, Noam (1993) ''A minimalist program for linguistic theory'' in: K.Hale and S. J. Keyser (eds.) The View from Building 20. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, pp. 1-52.
Chomsky, Noam (1995) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.
ten Hacken, Pius (1994) Defining Morphology. A Principled Approach to Determining the Boundaries of Compounding, Derivation and Inflection. Hildesheim: Olms.
Warren, Beatrice (1990) 'The importance of combining forms' in: Wolfgang Dressler et al. (eds) Contemporary Morphology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ralli, Angeliki (2005) Morphologia. Athens: Patakes. (in Greek)
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Evanthia Petropoulou has participated in the SNSF-Research Program "Word Formation as a Structuring Device in English and Italian Lexicons: A large- scale exploration", at the University of Basel, as a research lexicographer. At the moment she is a PhD student at the Department of Philology, University of Patras, Greece. Her research focuses on the process of compounding as this is realised in Greek, English and Italian.