, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 231–246 | Cite as

Prolegomena to a typology of morphological features

  • Greville G. CorbettEmail author
  • Matthew Baerman
Original Paper


Morphological features characterize variations in morphological form which are independent of syntactic context. They contrast with morphosyntactic features, which characterize variations in form correlated with different syntactic contexts. Morphological features account for formal variation across lexemes (inflectional class), as well as morphosyntactically incoherent alternations within the paradigm of a single lexeme. Such morphological features are not available to the syntax, as is made explicit in the principle of ‘morphology-free syntax’. Building on work on stress patterns in Network Morphology and on stems in Paradigm Function Morphology, we take initial steps towards a typology of these morphological features. We identify four types: inflectional class features (affixal and prosodic), stem indexing features, syncretic index features and morphophonological features. Then we offer a first list of criteria for distinguishing them from morphosyntactic features (independently of the principle of morphology-free syntax). Finally we review the arguments demonstrating the need to recognize morphological features.


Morphological feature Morphosyntactic feature Inflectional class Typology Network Morphology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aronoff M. (1994). Morphology by itself: Stems and inflectional classes (Linguistic Inquiry Monograph 22). Cambridge, MA: MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Baerman M., Brown D., Corbett G.G. (2005). The syntax-morphology interface: A study of syncretism (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 109). Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Booij G. (2005). Construction-dependent morphology. Lingue e linguaggio IV.2: 163–178Google Scholar
  4. Brown D. (1998). Stem indexing and morphonological selection in the Russian verb: A network morphology account. In: Fabri R., Ortmann A., Parodi T.(eds) Models of inflection. Tübingen, Max Niemeyer, pp. 196–224Google Scholar
  5. Brown D., Corbett G.G., Fraser N.M., Hippisley A., Timberlake A. (1996). Russian noun stress and network morphology. Linguistics 34, 53–107Google Scholar
  6. Browne W. (1993). Serbo-Croat. In: Comrie B., Corbett G.G.(eds) The Slavonic languages. London, Routledge, pp. 306–387Google Scholar
  7. Corbett G.G. (1982). Gender in Russian: An account of gender specification and its relationship to declension. Russian Linguistics 6, 197–232Google Scholar
  8. Corbett G.G. (1991). Gender. Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  9. Corbett, G. G. (2005). The canonical approach in typology. In Z. Frajzyngier, A. Hodges, & D. S. Rood (Eds.), Linguistic diversity and language theories (Studies in Language Companion Series 72) (pp. 25–49). Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
  10. Corbett G.G. (2006). Agreement. Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Corbett, G. G. (forthcoming a). Canonical typology, suppletion and possible words. To appear in Language, 83.Google Scholar
  12. Corbett, G. G. (forthcoming b). Deponency, syncretism, and what lies between. To appear. In M. Baerman, G. G. Corbett, D. Brown, & A. Hippisley (Eds.), Deponency and morphological mismatches. Oxford: British Academy and Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Corbett, G. G., & Fraser, N. M. (1993). Network morphology: A DATR account of Russian inflectional morphology. Journal of Linguistics, 29, 113—142. [Reprinted 2003 In: F. X. Katamba (Ed.), Morphology: Critical concepts in linguistics, VI: Morphology: Its place in the wider context (pp. 364–396) London: Routledge.]Google Scholar
  14. Evans N., Brown D., Corbett G.G. (2002). The semantics of gender in Mayali: Partially parallel systems and formal implementation. Language 78, 111–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feldstein, R. (2001). A concise Polish grammar. Durham and Chapel Hill: Slavic and East European Language Resource Center. Available from <>.Google Scholar
  16. Finkel, R., & Stump, G. (2006). Principal parts and morphological typology. Technical Report No. 459–06, Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky. techreports/459-06.pdfGoogle Scholar
  17. Gudkov V. (1965). Dodatak pravilima slaganja predikata sa više subjekata. Književnost i jezik 12, 60–61Google Scholar
  18. Gudkov V. (1974). Prilog o pravilima kongruencije. Književnost i jezik 21, 58–61Google Scholar
  19. Kettunen L. (1938). Livisches Wörterbuch mit grammatischer Einleitung. Helsinki, Suomalais Ugrilainen SeuraGoogle Scholar
  20. Kutsch Lojenga, C. (1994). Ngiti: A Central-Sudanic language of Zaire (Nilo-Saharan Linguistic Analyses and Documentation, 9). Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe. [cited from Finkel & Stump (2006)]Google Scholar
  21. Leko, N. (1986). Syntax of noun headed structures in Serbo-Croatian and corresponding phrasal structures in English. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University. Distributed by University Micro- films, Ann Arbor, reference 86—28003.Google Scholar
  22. Lenček R. (1972). O zaznamovanosti in nevtralizaciji slovnične kategorije spola v slovenskem knjižnem jeziku. Slavistična revija 20, 55–63Google Scholar
  23. Matthews P.H. (1972). Inflectional morphology: A theoretical study based on aspects of Latin verb conjugation. Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  24. Plank F. (1980). Encoding grammatical relations: Acceptable and unacceptable non-distinctness. In: Fisiak J.(eds) Historical morphology. The Hague, Mouton, pp. 289–325Google Scholar
  25. Schachtl S. (1989). Morphological case and abstract case: evidence from the German genitive construction. In: Bhatt C., Löbel E., Schmidt C.(eds) Syntactic phrase structure phenomena in noun phrases and sentences. Amsterdam, John Benjamins, pp. 99–111Google Scholar
  26. Spencer, A. Paradigm-based morphosyntax: The German genitive. Manuscript, University of Essex.Google Scholar
  27. Stump G.T. (2001). Inflectional morphology: A theory of paradigm structure. Cambridge, Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  28. Stump, G. T. (2004). Morphosyntactic conditions of morphomic dimensions of stem alternation. Paper read at the Workshop “Possible word” at the 11th International Morphology Meeting, University of Vienna, 13.2.2004.Google Scholar
  29. Stump, G. T. (2006). Heteroclisis and paradigm linkage. Language, 82, 279–322.Google Scholar
  30. Wechsler S., Zlatič L. (2003). The many faces of agreement. Stanford, CSLIGoogle Scholar
  31. Zaliznjak A.A. (1967). Russkoe imennoe slovoizmenenie. Moscow, NaukaGoogle Scholar
  32. Zwicky A.M. (1986). German adjective agreement in GPSG. Linguistics 24, 957–990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zwicky A.M. (1992). Jottings on adpositions, case inflections, government, and agreement. In: Brentari D., Larson G.N., MacLeod L.A.(eds) The joy of grammar: A festschrift in honor of James D. McCawley. Amsterdam, Benjamins, pp. 369–383Google Scholar
  34. Zwicky A.M. (1996). Syntax and phonology. In Brown K., Miller J.(eds) Concise Encyclopedia of Syntactic Theories. Oxford, Elsevier Science, pp. 300–305Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Surrey Morphology Group, Faculty of Humanities and Human SciencesUniversity of SurreySurreyUK

Personalised recommendations