Morphology lecture 8: Models of Morphology Review

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Lecture 8: Models of Morphology

8. Review

  • Mophophonology: some phonological phenomena triggered by morphological processes. Stress change; consonant change; vowel harmony.

  • Morphosyntax: some morphological processes that interact with syntax. Case and agreement; clitics; incorporation.

8.1 Morphological models

  • Originally devised by Hockett (1954)

  • IA and IP within generative tradition (i.e. rules which generate words)

  • WP a reaction to other two models

  1. Item & Arrangement (IA)

    • Morphology as word-level syntax

    • Useful for both derivation and inflection

    • Words and sentences consist of sequences of morphemes; the morpheme is the basic unit of analysis.


↓ ↓ ↓ < phonological rules

morph morph morph > surface structure

English: DRAW+ING+S

↓ ↓ ↓


  • Model works well for easily segmentable words and agglutinative languages.

  • Model does not work well for nonsegmentable morphology.

  1. Item & Process (IP)

    • Sees morphemes as processes

    • May subsume IA as a process

In the lexicon, morphemes may contain features linked with inflection:




Lexical morphemes combine with underspecified inflectional morphemes:





Combination of change feature and inflection sets off a phonological process:

PL  CHANGE: /… uː …/ > /…iː…/

output of change rule: /giːs/

Model works well for some morphological processes:

Dutch (ablaut/umlaut):

/doːn/ ‘do’ > /deː/ ‘did’

/stelən/ ‘steal’ > /stal/ ‘stole’

Icelandic (ablaut/umlaut):
/tεk/ ‘take’ > /toʊk/ ‘took’

/mus/ ‘mouse’ > /mis/ ‘mis’

English (consonant change associated with derivation):

thief > thieve

sheath > sheathe

  • Morphemes in IP are realized as morphs or processes (1-to-1)

  • But IP has difficulty handling paradigms.

regeːbam RULE +1s + imperative ‘I was ruling’

regeːbas RULE +2s + imperative ‘you (sg.) were ruling’

regeːbat RULE +3s + imperative ‘he was ruling’

reːksiː RULE +1s + perfective ‘I have ruled’

reːksistiː RULE +1s + perfective ‘you (sg.) have ruled’

reːksiː RULE +3s + perfective ‘he has ruled’

  1. Word & Paradigm (WP)

    • Takes word, not morpheme, as fundamental unit of analysis.

    • Accounts for zero morphs, portmanteaus and ‘discontinuous’ morphs.

    • Exponents may simultaneously realise more than one feature.

lexeme > morphological processes > word-form

Example: Latin /reːksistiː/ ‘you (sg.) ruled’
reg- + perfective + 2nd + singular

reːk + s + is + tiː

Other advantages:

  • morphological processes take place within paradigms

  • can handle homophonous morphs which realize more than one grammatical feature (since each morph is generated by processes within the paradigm) and discontinuous morphs

  • model also easily handles portmanteau morphs

But….paradigmatic rules appear redundant in agglutinative languages

8.2 Morphological Typology
Morphological models may be best suited for languages based on morphological type:

  1. Isolating, e.g. Chinese:

wo dui Akiu weishenme bu lai hen guanxin

I about Akiu why not come very care

‘I do care why Akiu will not come’

    • Little or no inflectional morphology

    • Most word-forms consist of one morph realizing one morpheme.

  1. Agglutinating, e.g. Finish

Minä nä-i-n Sadu-n Helsingi-ssa

I see-past-1s Sadu-acc Helsinki-in

‘I saw Satu in Helsinki’

  • Morphs usually realise one morpheme (cf. IA model)

  • Word-forms consist of roots with lots of easily segmentable affixes

  1. Fusional or inflectional, e.g. Latin


  • Morphs realise more than one feature/morpheme (cf. WP)

  • Word-forms fall into irregular paradigms

  1. Polysynthetic, e.g. Laborador Inuttut

taku-vânga ‘She sees me’


  • One word-form may function as an entire sentence

  • Word-forms may be segmentable (cf. IA) or fusional (cf. WP)

Reading for this lecture:

Bauer (2003): 197-208; Katamba (1993): 56-62

LANE 333- 2018-19

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