Theoretical Issues in Old French Inflectional Morpho(phono)logy

  • Jürgen Klausenburger
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 88)


This contribution applies the theoretical concepts of iconicity, system congruity, and paradigmatic leveling to data from Old French nominal and verbal morpho(phono)logy. It is an attempt to revisit well-known (traditional) philological material and to offer a modern theoretical interpretation of the phenomena under consideration. It will be demonstrated that the combination of philological research and theoretical insights leads to the most complete understanding of the Old French data involved. Two areas of Old French inflectional morphology will be examined. First, the Old French case system is given a thorough analysis in terms of the concepts of iconicity and system congruity, parts of the theory of Natural Morphology. The loss of the Old French case system is attributed to a ‘heavy’ presence of counter-iconicity, which becomes apparent by means of the cube constellation representation of this system. Second, the Old French verbal system is shown to include both invariance and final consonant alternation (FCA), which make up its system congruity. It is argued that this account should be considered ‘concrete’ and ‘functional’, as opposed to ‘abstract’ and ‘formal’ in today’s linguistic theorizing. In the last section of this paper, considerations based on Ockham’s Razor will be incorporated into a discussion of this dichotomy.


Romance Language Past Participle Feminine Gender Phonological Rule Masculine Noun 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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