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Balancing the lexical and the inferential: one kind of morphological complexity

Lecture, Research profile seminar

Gemensamt seminarium inom forskningsområdet Språkliga strukturer vid institutionen för språk och litteraturer och Grammatikseminariet vid institutionen för svenska språket. Alla intresserade är välkomna!

Languages with inflectional classes, or other form-based distinctions that cross-cut what is required by syntax, are morphologically complex. The additional forms place an apparently unnecessary requirement on the user. I discuss three ways, among many, of construing morphological complexity, and focus on one of them in particular, called "central system complexity". It starts from the idea that there are two ways for a morphological system to be straightforward: either there is a reliance solely on lexical listing or there is a reliance solely on grammatical inference (such as rules, however defined). Real morphologically complex systems tend not to be like this, of course. In contrast with the straightforward types, central system complexity is at its highest when the contribution of lexical listing and inference is in balance, and the system is therefore as far as it can be from either of the straightforward types. I consider how it can be measured, and then look at real-life data available online to model the verbal system of Tlatepuzco Chinantec. It is argued that, given the nature of real morphological systems, this notion of complexity should be particularly useful in understanding variation across observable morphological systems.

Based on chapter 7 of Baerman, Brown and Corbett (2017) 'Morphological Complexity

Lecturer: Prof. Dunstan Brown (York University)

Date: 5/24/2018

Time: 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Categories: Language, Research, Linguistics, Humanities

Organizer: institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Location: Faculty of Arts, Lundgrensgatan 1B

Contact person: Laura Downing

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