The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 4/4 - Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero

Speaker: Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero (University of Manchester)
Title: Lexical storage and cyclic locality in phonologically driven allomorph selection
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 4, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32-D461

If exponence proceeds cyclically, so that cycles define local domains for allomorph selection, then empirical evidence from the size of allomorph selection domains can be used to determine the size of lexically stored exponents. Spanish, for example, exhibits a well-known instance of phonologically driven allomorph selection in which allomorphs containing stressed [jé] and [wé] alternate with allomorphs containing unstressed [e] and [o]: e.g. cué nta ‘count/tell.3 SG’ ~ contámos ‘count/tell.1PL ’. In the deverbal adjective [N [V co ntá ] ble] ‘countable’, the monophthongal allomorph c onta- is chosen during the second cycle of the derivation, when stress moves to the second syllable. This instance of allomorphy must therefore involve competition between stems (i.e. between two exponents of the verb lexeme CONTAR), rather than between roots (i.e. between two exponents of the √-node √CONT ). Two lines of evidence support this analysis of the Spanish diphthongal alternation. First, the assumption of stem storage removes the need for declension diacritics in Spanish nominal and adjectival morphology. Secondly, it correctly predicts that, historically, lexemes that share a root but belong to different categories can cease to display the same allomorphic behaviour: e.g. the stem of the verb contár ‘count/tell’ still participates in the diphthongal alternation, whereas the stem of the noun cuénto ‘fable, fibb’ no longer does (cf. cuentéro ‘fabulist, fibber’). These results provide evidence against theories of morphology that restrict lexical storage to roots and to exponents of single functional heads.

Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2013. The Spanish lexicon stores stems with theme vowels, not roots with inflectional class features. Probus 25(1).