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Morphological universals and diachrony

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Part of the Yearbook of Morphology book series (YOMO)

Conclusion

We conclude that what we find in language is only partially explained by what is “natural.” Some things that we find in the morphology of a language are there not because the language faculty requires them but because change tends to create them for independent reasons; while some things that are rare or perhaps even non-existent are not to be found because there are few if any pathways that could produce them from an available source. These observations have surprisingly important consequences: they mean that our account of the human cognitive capacity for language cannot be based simply on generalizations about what we find in the languages of the world, or on what can be grounded in some other domain, such as phonetics. The cognitive capacity we hope to capture may well be much more flexible than we might think at first glance, and as a result, it may be considerably harder to determine its properties than has been assumed.

Keywords

  • Historical Change
  • Language Faculty
  • Universal Grammar
  • Prosodic Structure
  • Phonological Rule

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Iam grateful to the participants in the Mediterranean Morphology Meeting IV in Catania, especially Paul Kiparsky and Alice Harris, for comments, questions, and suggestions relevant to this paper; and to Juliette Blevins and three anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft. The influence of Blevins’ work on the role of historical explanation in phonology will be apparent.

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Anderson, S.R. (2005). Morphological universals and diachrony. In: Booij, G., van Marle, J. (eds) Yearbook of Morphology 2004. Yearbook of Morphology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-2900-4_1

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