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Morphology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 197–221 | Cite as

On the relationship between morphological and semantic markedness

The case of plural morphology
  • Alan BaleEmail author
  • Michaël Gagnon
  • Hrayr Khanjian
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper explores two possible connections between the diagnostics for morphological and semantic markedness. One possibility, a positive correlation, predicts that if a grammatical feature is diagnosed as being morphologically marked then it should also be semantically marked. This possibility follows from the assumption that features are interpreted as restrictions on denotations. The second possibility, a negative correlation, predicts that if a grammatical feature is diagnosed as being morphologically marked then it should be semantically unmarked. This systematic inconsistency follows from the assumption that features are interpreted as augmenting functions. In our exploration of number marking, we find that the negative correlation is not only theoretically consistent with the semantic literature (in particular Link, in: Bartsch et al. (eds.) Semantics and contextual expressions, 1983), but it is also more consistent with the empirical landscape (as noted by Sauerland, in: Young and Zhou (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and linguistic theory SALT XIII 2008). As a result, the morphological diagnostics lend support to the view that plural features are interpreted as augmenting functions.

Keywords

Semantic markedness Morphological markedness Plural Feature interpretations 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics ProgramConcordia University, H663W. MontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMITCambridgeUSA

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