, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 177–198 | Cite as

Wordhood and the interplay of linguistic levels in synthetic languages. An empirical study on Wichi (Mataguayan, Gran Chaco)

  • Verónica Nercesian


On the basis of data from the synthetic and agglutinative South American language Wichi (Mataguayan, Argentina/Bolivia), I argue in favor of regarding interface phenomena as typological variables. In particular, in this paper I discuss what type of interactions these are, arguing that they do not affect wordhood but do contribute to its formation.

I will defend the hypothesis that linguistic level interactions within the word are of two types and different in nature: overlapping on the one hand and conditioning and alteration on the other. Conditioning only takes place in morphophonological and morphosemantic interactions and it follows the wordhood requirements of the language. Conversely, the interaction of morphology with all linguistic levels shows overlapping of units: the phonological word and the grammatical word in the morphophonological relation; the word and the simple clause or nominal phrase in the morphosyntactic relation; and the word and the semantic unit in the morphosemantic relation. This explains why the word is generally defined by phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic criteria.

It is to be hoped that the conclusions arrived at in this paper would contribute to deepen our knowledge of the notion of wordhood in synthetic languages in South America as well as our understanding of language structure and functioning.


Wordhood Linguistic interface Synthetic language South America Wichi 





















incorporation closer








































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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CONICET-UNaF/UBACapital Federal—Buenos AiresArgentina

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