Constraining inherent inflection: Number and Nominal Aspect
14T17:04:32Z March 2013
Since Booij (1994, 1996) it has become increasingly clear that inflectional morphology can take part in lexeme formation and compounding. Booij (1994) recognized the need for substantive constraints on the ways inflection can feed derivation, and restricted its derivational use to deictic categories, including Number. Pursuing this search for constraints, I propose that Number is a single morphological category covering two abstract functions (cf. Beard 1995), and that it can be inherent only when it expresses the more “lexical” of those functions, and thus means more than the grammatical feature would. This “lexical” Number expresses properties of the lexeme but stands halfway between the lexical core and the properly inflectional categories. It encodes mereological (part-whole) properties of the noun’s interpretation, thus paralleling the role of Aspect in the verbal domain, and like Aspect it can be integrated to different degrees in the grammatical system of a language. In some languages, this type of information has a specific morphological expression (so-called collective affixes). In others, it appears only as non-canonical semantics (and sometimes form) for Number inflection. Inherent Number, both as a component of lexemeformation and as fixed Number value on certain nouns, consists in the expression of Nominal Aspect through the morphology of Number. Morphology is not “split”, but its uses are. Inherent inflection, specifically Number, arises in certain languages as a by-product of the separation of (morphological) form and meaning. The article develops these views by presenting first a relatively detailed exemplification from several sources (section 1), followed by some critical reflections on the peculiarities of these constructions, to the effect that inherent Number must be qualitatively different from inflectional Number (section 2). Section 3 sets out in detail the hypothesis that inherent Number is the inflectional expression of Nominal Aspect, and section 4 concludes the argument by hypothesizing that Number not only can, but must have a distinct interpretation as a lexicalized property than as a regular inflectional one.
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Mouton de Gruyter
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