, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 271–292 | Cite as

Some sources of apparent gaps in derivational paradigms

  • Gregory StumpEmail author


Derivational paradigms sometimes present gaps (e.g. capitalcapitalistcapitalistic but charactergap: *characteristcharacteristic). In many cases, gaps in derivational paradigms are merely apparent: on closer scrutiny, they prove not to be gaps at all. In some instances, an apparent gap is in reality the reflection of a morphological rule’s versatility; in such instances, a single rule serves either to mark the derivation of one lexeme from another or to define the relation between two stems of the same lexeme. In other instances, an apparent gap is actually the reflection of an independently motivated principle of rule conflation. The conflation of rule B with rule A yields an apparent gap in a lexeme’s derivational paradigm in one of two ways: (i) in some instances, the conflation’s domain of application is a subset of that of rule A but the conflation nevertheless exhibits greater productivity than rule A on its own; (ii) in other instances, the conflation’s domain of application is not a subset of that of rule A. Once the effects of rule versatility and rule conflation are taken into account, numerous apparent gaps prove not to be gaps at all, a fact with significant implications for understanding the architecture of a language’s morphology.


Derivation Gap Paradigm Rule conflation Rule versatility 



I wish to thank several members of the audience whose comments have contributed to the realization of the present version; thanks also to Nabil Hathout, Fiammetta Namer, and two anonymous referees for numerous constructive suggestions.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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