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Some sources of apparent gaps in derivational paradigms

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is possible to conceive of derivational paradigms in more than one way. Roché (2011: 28) and Hathout (2011: 259ff) distinguish between morphological derivational families (familles dérivationelles morphologiques) and lexical derivational families (familles dérivationelles lexicales): the former are paradigms of lexemes whose stems are morphologically related (e.g. operate and operator), while the latter are larger paradigms of lexemes that are lexicosemantically related (e.g. operate and surgeon); cf. also Stump (1991: 721f). Here, I use ‘derivational paradigm’ in the specific sense of ‘morphological derivational family’.

  2. 2.

    Bonami et al. (2009) motivate the postulation of a radical caché in French whose role in deverbal derivation is closely comparable to the English T-stem proposed here.

  3. 3.

    Certain other rules also give rise to T-stems; two such rules are mentioned at the end of this section.

  4. 4.

    Given that celebrate is not synchronically derived, its default T-stem must simply be listed in its lexical entry.

  5. 5.

    In other work (Stump 2017a, 2017b, 2017c), I discuss the pervasive evidence for rule conflation in the definition of a language’s inflectional morphology.

  6. 6.

    Verbs of the type exemplified by French dé-barqu-er /*dé-barque /*barqu-er (Darmesteter 1875: 79–80) are sometimes labeled as instances of parasynthesis, but their similarity to cases such as decapitate is only apparent. In decapitate, but de- and -ate are derivational affixes, but the suffix -er in débarquer is inflectional rather than derivational; thus, unlike *decapit, débarque is not actually unattested, but serves as the default stem of débarquer. See Corbin (1980, 1987: 121–39), Fradin (2003: 288–306), and Serrano-Dolader (2015: 528f) for extensive discussion of parasynthetic verbs in French and their proper analysis.

  7. 7.

    Booij (2010: 45) makes the same point regarding unified schemas in Construction Morphology.

  8. 8.

    An apparent exception is patrician, which may be used as either a noun or an adjective and does not refer according to vocation; the borrowing of patrician from Middle French (< patricien) likely predates the emergence of the semantic specialization of -ic-ian nouns in English.

  9. 9.

    Instances in which a derivative adjective of the form X-ist-ic is synonymous with its counterpart X-ist embody the general phenomenon of formal over-marking (Hathout and Namer 2014b). In addition, there are cases in which an adjective in -ist-ic has a synonym or near-synonym in -ic that derives from the same stem (e.g. synergistic/synergic) or from a different stem, e.g. cannibalistic/esoteric, cannibalistic/anthropophagic, narcissistic/egocentric, realistic/pragmatic. Such cases suggest that although the formal effect of the conflated -ist-ic rule is deducible from those of its two component rules, its semantic effect may be a matter of lexical stipulation rather than simple semantic composition; in this respect, it is like unconflated derivational rules generally.

  10. 10.

    An adjective in -istic may have a corresponding noun in -ism such that the meaning of the adjective is a function of that of the noun, e.g. anachronistic ‘exhibiting anachronism’; similarly, a noun in -ism may have a corresponding personal noun in -ist whose meaning it determines, e.g. nationalist ‘proponent of nationalism’. Thus, a noun in -ism may determine the meaning of a corresponding adjective in -istic, that of a corresponding noun in -ist, or both, but despite their shared morphology, a noun in -ist does not in general determine the meaning of the corresponding adjective in -istic.

  11. 11.

    Bauer et al. (2013: 226, 321) also appeal to the lack of domain composition to justify treating -arian and -istic as simple affixes; see also Dixon (2014: 317).

  12. 12.

    Dixon (2014: 251f) provides additional discussion of these differences.

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Acknowledgements

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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Correspondence to Gregory Stump.

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An earlier version of this paper was presented at ParadigMo 2017 (First Workshop on Paradigmatic Word Formation Modeling) in Toulouse on 19 June 2017.

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Stump, G. Some sources of apparent gaps in derivational paradigms. Morphology 29, 271–292 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11525-018-9329-z

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Keywords

  • Derivation
  • Gap
  • Paradigm
  • Rule conflation
  • Rule versatility