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Verbalizers leave marks: evidence from Greek

Abstract

In this article we provide evidence that the verbalizing v head in Greek has a morphological exponence in many more verbs than is apparent. Although, at first sight, verbs in the traditional second conjugation inflectional class (which exhibit non-root stress, e.g., aɣap-ó ‘I love’, poθ-ó ‘I desire’) do not seem to contain an overt piece of verbalizing morphology, we show that they take a vocalic extension consisting of an abstract vocalic slot. This slot, which can either be filled in with vocalic material or remain empty, undertakes the function of a verbalizer. Two major gains of this analysis is that it provides solid evidence for a v head as a verbalizer and not as a composite Voice-verbalizing head and that it proposes a unified treatment of the Greek verb morphology without extensively retreating to stem allomorphy.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Harley (2013a, 2013b) for syntactic arguments for the distinction between Voice and v.

  2. 2.

    The following abbreviations are used in the text: acc: accusative, act: active, APU: antepenultimate stress, C: consonant, f: feminine, gen: genitive, impfv: imperfective, m: masculine, n: neuter, nom: nominative, NUC: Nucleus, O: Onset, pass: passive, pfv: perfective, pl: plural, PU: penultimate stress, sg: singular, σ: syllable, U: ultimate stress, V: vowel, vrb: verbalizer. The symbol -□ v is used to indicate an empty vocalic slot.

  3. 3.

    For the trochaic nature of Greek stress, see Malikouti-Drachman and Drachman (1989), Drachman and Malikouti-Drachman (1999), Revithiadou (1999, 2007), among others.

  4. 4.

    See Franchetto (2006) on Kuikuro, Koontz-Garboden (2009) on Ulwa and the discussion on denominal verb formation in North American languages in the collection of papers by Gerdts and Marlett (2008) and in Mathieu (2013, 2014).

  5. 5.

    The empirical consequences of syntactic categorization have been explored in detail in a significant and radically growing body of work including but not restricted to Marantz (1997, 2001, 2007), Harley and Noyer (1997), Embick (1998, 2000, 2004a, 2004b, 2010), Alexiadou (2001), Folli et al. (2003), Arad (2003, 2005), Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou (2004), Folli and Harley (2005, 2007, 2013), Harley (2005a, 2005b, 2009, 2013a, 2013b), Alexiadou et al. (2006), Embick and Marantz (2008), Basilico (2008), Lowenstamm (2008), Ramchand (2008), Volpe (2009), Panagiotidis (2011, 2014) and, in a slightly different framework but in considerable detail and depth, Borer (2005, 2013). However, an attempt to summarize the diverse and insightful findings of this line of work in this article will take us too far afield.

  6. 6.

    Here we opt for a separationist-realizational approach to morphology (e.g. Beard 1995; Halle and Marantz 1993) for reasons of an ultimately empirical nature. In Sect. 7 of this article, the intricate morphophonological effects of the verbalizing ghost vowel in second conjugation verbs will be reviewed and discussed. Assuming that such effects are the workings of a pre-syntactic morphological mechanism, which is separated from a morphophonological component (as well as the level of Phonology) by the syntactic derivation, would raise a number of descriptive and explanatory difficulties (reviewed, e.g. in Marantz 1997) and require a version of look-ahead, to say the least.

  7. 7.

    For descriptions and analyses of Greek verbal inflection see: Triantafyllidis (1988[1941]), Hamp (1961), Koutsoudas (1962), Householder et al. (1964), Warburton (1970, 1973), Babiniotis (1972), Ralli (1988, 1998, 2003, 2005), Clairis and Babiniotis (2005), Galani (2005), Spyropoulos and Revithiadou (2009, 2011), Holton et al. (2012).

  8. 8.

    Aspect and tense may also be manifested by means of stem allomorphy, derived by either readjustment rules or suppletion (for a full list see Holton et al. 2012). Stem allomorphy may be employed alone or in addition to the relevant suffixation.

    1. (i)

      Stem allomorphy by readjustment

      imperfective perfective  
      non past past non past past
      plé-o é-ple-a pléf-s-o é-plef-s-a ‘I float, sail’
      aláz-o álaz-a alák-s-o álak-s-a ‘I change’
      prát-o é-prat-a prák-s-o é-prak-s-a ‘I make, act’
      anastén-o anásten-a anast-ís-o anást-is-a ‘I resurrect’
      sopén-o sópen-a sopá-s-o sópa-s-a ‘I silence’
      anasén-o anásen-a anasán-o anásan-a ‘I breath’
      varén-o váren-a varín-o várin-a ‘I make/get heavy’
      paθén-o páθen-a páθ-o é-paθ-a ‘I suffer’
      pérn-o é-pern-a pár-o pír-a ‘I take’
      piɣén-o píɣen-a pá-o píɣ-a ‘I go’
      klé-o é-kle-ɣ-a kláp-s-o é-klap-s-a ‘I cry’
      filá-o fíla-ɣ-a filák-s-o fílak-s-a ‘I guard’
      bén-o é-ben-a b-ó b-ík-a ‘I enter’
      vrísk-o é-vrisk-a vr-ó vr-ík-a ‘I find’
    1. (ii)

      Stem allomorphy by suppletion

      imperfective perfective  
      non past past non past past
      vlép-o é-vlep-a ð-ó íð-a ‘I see’
      érx-ome erx-ómuna érθ-o / rθ-ó írθ-a ‘I come’
      lé-o é-le-ɣ-a p-ó íp-a ‘I say’
      tró-o é-tro-ɣ-a fá-o é-faɣ-a ‘I eat’
  9. 9.

    2nd Conjugation verbs are further classified in two subclasses. Class B verb forms do not take the characteristic a vowel between the root and the non-past agreement suffixes in imperfective non-past forms and they do not have the Southern Greek alternative formation of imperfective past forms with the formative - (see Sect. 7.2 and footnote 12). However, many 2nd Conjugation verbs may inflect according to both the Class A and the Class B pattern or follow a mixed pattern; for a list of these verbs see Holton et al. (2012).

  10. 10.

    A comparison between the 1st Conjugation non-past suffixes and the past suffixes reveals that they contain a vowel which is sensitive to tense. We assume that this is the exponent of a theme element attached to the T functional head at Morphological Structure (see Oltra-Massuet 2000; Oltra-Massuet and Arregi 2005; Embick 2010). 2nd and 3rd Conjugation suffixes do not contain such an element, thus, we will refer to them as ‘bare suffixes’.

  11. 11.

    See Warburton (1970), Babiniotis (1972), Ralli (2005), and more recently, van Oostendorp (2012), Spyropoulos and Revithiadou (2009, 2011).

  12. 12.

    The -aɣ formative has a restricted and geographically-conditioned distribution. It is frequent in southern Greek as an alternative to -ús (Holton et al. 2012:151).

  13. 13.

    For the purposes of this article, we remain agnostic as to the exact content of the verbalizing v (flavours of v; Folli and Harley 2005, 2007, 2013). However, we take the properties of the verbalizing suffixes to indicate that the verbalizing v head is distinct from Voice and it is not correlated, at least directly, with agentivity, transitivity and Aktionsart inner aspect (contra Kratzer 1996; Chomsky 2001).

  14. 14.

    There are two ways to implement this conditioning. First, we may assume that these roots are inherently specified for belonging to the 2nd Conjugation or that the structure involves a relevant class feature which conditions the insertion of the empty vocalic slot. Second, we may propose that there is a direct lexical conditioning, without the mediation of a class feature or a root diacritic. Under the latter scenario, 2nd Conjugation verbs are listed as lexically selecting the empty vocalic slot as the exponent of v, in the same way 1st Conjugation verbs with verbalizing suffixes are listed as lexically selecting the relevant suffix. The gain from this approach is that the 2nd Conjugation inflectional pattern and its distinct properties independently derive from the morphophonological properties of the empty vocalic slot without the need to assume an extra class feature or a diacritic. Another welcome result of this analysis is that the inflectional patterns of the conjugations are only epiphenomena and that verbs are not listed in conjugational classes in the lexicon, but rather they are listed as selecting a given exponent of the v head; the conjugation-specific inflectional pattern, therefore, derives from the morphophonological properties of this exponent. We leave this issue open to future research.

  15. 15.

    Traditionally past inflections have been argued to require stress to surface on the APU syllable (Warburton 1970; Babiniotis 1972; Ralli 2005). More recent approaches attribute APU stress to the presence of a stressed proclitic or prefixal element (see van Oostendorp 2012 and Spyropoulos and Revithiadou 2009, 2011, respectively). The specifics of stress assignment in past forms do not have any bearing on the analysis developed here and, therefore, are left aside.

  16. 16.

    For the status of glides and the processes of glide formation in Greek see Householder et al. (1964), Setatos (1974, 1987), Warburton (1976), Malikouti-Drachman (1987), Malikouti-Drachman and Drachman (1990), Rytting (2005), Topintzi (2011), Topintzi and Baltazani (2011, 2013), Baltazani and Topintzi (2012), Holton et al. (2012), Soultatis (2013), among others.

  17. 17.

    That the derived glide occupies the onset position is confirmed by the fact that in standard varieties of Greek the glides surfaces as a palatal fricative, e.g. [aɣapçéme].

  18. 18.

    A sequence of identical vowels is tolerated, however, when both vowels are underlying as in the 3sg form iðrí-i of the 1st Conjugation verb iðrío ‘I found, I establish’ (cf. θiikós < /θi-ikos/ ‘of sulfur’). In general, in Greek optional vowel insertion is blocked if it would create a hiatus environment, e.g. tin emfanízi / *tine emfanízi ‘s/he presents her’ but tine θéli ‘s/he wants her’. (The rule of -e insertion on object clitics is used in somewhat informal or dialectally coloured registers.)

  19. 19.

    The constraint *Stressed-□V (where □V is an empty vocalic slot) is part of the gradient constraint scale which prohibits reduced vowels or skeletal slots to carry stress prominence: *Stress-□V » *Stress-ə » *Stress-i, u » … » *Stress-a (see Kenstowicz 1996).

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Acknowledgements

This article is the outcome of a broader work on Greek verbalizing morphosyntax. Parts of this work have been presented in the Little v Workshop, Leiden University, 25–26 October 2013 and in talks at the University of Cyprus and the University of Patras. We thank the audiences for providing useful feedback. We also sincerely thank Elena Anagnostopoulou, Mark Aronoff, Anastasia Giannakidou, Heidi Harley, Bob Hoberman, Marc van Oostendorp and Angeliki Ralli for their valuable feedback and constructive criticism. We are also grateful to the Editors of Morphology and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and helpful suggestions. The usual disclaimers apply.

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Spyropoulos, V., Revithiadou, A. & Panagiotidis, P. Verbalizers leave marks: evidence from Greek. Morphology 25, 299–325 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11525-015-9260-5

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Keywords

  • Categorizer
  • Verbalizer
  • Verb morphology
  • Empty vowel
  • Stress
  • Greek