Chapter 2: A framework for morphological defaults


In this chapter we introduce some foundational distinctions of Network Morphology in §2.1 and show in §2.2 how Network Morphology treats the lexeme as a locus of parallel information, where semantic, syntactic, phonological and morphological information are combined. This also means that there is potential for slippage between morphological knowledge and other linguistic levels so that it can become autonomous. In §2.3 we consider the different types of default generalization which Network Morphology makes possible. We emphasize the ability to model cross-linguistic tendencies with attribute ordering, in particular in terms of the predictions they make about neutralization and syncretism. We also show that Network Morphology has a flexible paradigm signature which can account for apparently different types of phenomena: marginal features on the one hand, and splits in the paradigm on the other. We then explain the role of normal and exceptional case defaults. The former are used for the general case that normally applies, whereas the latter are used as the last resort. Having considered these different types of default within morphology we move on to look at the default relationship with syntax, which naturally leads to a typology for morphological autonomy in §2.4, starting from a non-autonomous situation where the morphological hierarchy is isomorphic with the lexemic hierarchy, and therefore eliminable, and moving to a situation where inflectional classes create structure which is not reflected in the lexemic hierarchy. The framework, therefore, allows for different degrees of morphological autonomy and imposes constraints on possible morphological systems. We illustrate how Network Morphology treats the relationship with syntax in §2.4 and summarize in §2.5.

Associated Theories: 

There are four fragments associated with this chapter. These are:

  • a fragment of the noun morphology of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan language Koryak (discussed on pages 60-61).
    In this fragment we show that the attribute ordering number before case can still be maintained for the two different noun types, even though there is number syncretism outside of the absolutive.
  • the fragment of Russian nouns, discussed in this chapter, chapter 3 and later modified in chapter 7 to include derivation.
  • a fragment of the Gunwinyguan language Bininj Gun-wok, discussed in §, where an assignment system for the gender and morphological class of nouns is presented.
  • a fragment of Polish nouns, discussed in §, where an assignment system for gender and sub-gender is presented.

    The Polish and Bininj Gun-wok fragments illustrate the role of the normal and exceptional case defaults, and this can also be seen in the lexical entries associated with the Russian theory that belong to Declension I and have stress_index 3.

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