, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 297–323 | Cite as

The form and productivity of the Maltese morphological diminutive

  • Shiloh DrakeEmail author


This paper examines the productivity and form of the morphological diminutive in Maltese. Maltese has lexical items and grammatical properties stemming from both Semitic and Indo-European roots; previous research has shown that there are different levels of productivity for Semitic and Indo-European morphology, which varies even among speakers. In addition, both the Semitic and Indo-European morphological diminutive may take several different forms in Maltese. The goals of this research are to determine whether native speakers of Maltese can use a morphological diminutive (like wuggie) rather than a lexical diminutive (like little wug); if they can, whether a default form exists for the morphological diminutive, and if so, whether the default form is Indo-European or Semitic in nature. A novel word elicitation task was used to test how speakers use the diminutive, and the results may be explained using a variety of different theoretical frameworks allowing for a hierarchical selection of a diminutive allomorph.


Root-and-pattern morphology Maltese Novel word elicitation task Diminutive 



This work was funded by grants from the University of Arizona Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute and the University of Arizona Graduate and Professional Students Council. The author wishes to thank the following individuals for their comments and expertise: Lauren M. Ackerman, William Cotter, Ray Fabri, Kenneth I. Forster, Luke Galea, Heidi Harley, Ingo Plag, Adam Ussishkin, Andrew Wedel, Samantha Wray, two anonymous reviewers, and the Institute of Linguistics at the University of Malta.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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