Morphology: the base processor

Aysun Kunduracı, Aslı Göksel


One of the motivations behind the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis (LIH) was to draw a distinction between word structure and phrase structure as evidence for a separate morphological component. In this study, we claim that drawing such a line between morphology and syntax is not contingent on whether word structure can be built on purely morphological items; rather, the crucial issue seems to be whether an operation is manipulated by a dedicated morphological mechanism, and on the properties of the output(s). We start from the premise that morphological well-formedness cannot be derived from syntax: morphology (the word-formation component) must be autonomous with its own principles (as in Anderson 1992, Aronoff 1994, Beard 1995, Pounder 2000 among others). We then turn our attention to the function of morphology. We show that a morphological component responsible for creating and inflecting lexemes and performing activities upon syntactic and prosodic phrases is necessary. When performing its tasks, morphology uses base operations and provides the bases on which morphological processes (i.e. word-formation and inflection processes) operate. Moreover, we show that these bases can be stems, word-forms, syntactic constituents, and prosodic constituents. Thus one aspect of the LIH which does not allow postsyntactic morphology (No-Phrase Constraint, Botha 1983) must be eliminated so that we can account for both simple and complex outputs of morphology. We conclude that the fact that complex morphological expressions are possible does not necessarily show that there is no (need for a) morphological component. Rather, morphology is the only component in which base operations take place to generate word formations.


lexical integrity; autonomous morphology; base types

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