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Derivational Morphology
Mihaela Tnase-Dogaru, Fall semester 2015
Course design: Ileana Baciu (2004). English Morphology. Word formation (EUB)
Lecture 5

The Constituent Structure of Words

1. Selkirks model
- word structure has the same general formal properties as syntactic structure
- word structure is generated by the same sort of rule system
- Selkirk assumes a variant of X-bar syntax which defines the structure of W(ord)-syntax.
- hypothesis = all Word-syntactic categories, be they of the category Word or lower than Word, are in
the X-bar hierarchy, since the rules of W-syntax and the rules of S(entence)-syntax share the Word level
categories.
- in W-syntax the maximal projection is identical to the zero-level projection in S-syntax, represented as
X i.e. the lexical category or Word.
- in W-syntax the other categories involved are:
(i) X stem (where Stem is simply a convenient term for the type X 1 that is one down in the X-bar hierarchy
from Word (X0)),
(ii) the category Xroot (or X2) contained within Stem, and
(iii) the category Xaff
The trajectory followed by morphology and syntax:
(1)

X
X
X0
X1
X2
Xaff

Syntax

Morphology

- the features that play a role in word-syntax (i.e. form part of W-syntactic categories) can be assigned to
two classes:
(i) the syntactic category features [ Noun], [ Verb], etc., which represent the distinctions among Noun,
Verb, Adjective, Preposition
(ii) all the other features which will be termed diacritic features. The diacritic features include those
relevant to the particulars of inflectional and derivational morphology: conjugation or declension class
markers, features for tense (e.g. [ Past]), gender (e.g. [ feminine]), person, number etc. The derivational
features may include ones such as [latinate].
- the adoption of another important concept namely that of head. Selkirk = all words are headed. A
morphologically complex word will have a head, which will have the same syntactic category as its
mother.
- other features (morphological features, diacritics of various sorts and so on) may percolate up the word
tree.

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- the X-bar schema proposed for generating the word structures of languages conform to the general
format in (2):
(2)

a)
b)

Xn ..Ym Xaff..
Yaff Xm

(where X,Y are syntactic categories, 0nm)


- rule (a) refers to suffixes and (b) to prefixes.
- in the (a) case the affix is the head, in the (b) case the base is the head.
- in English the value of n, m is Word and Root.
! in morphology, the identification of the head is impossible. For example, the members of a compound
are of the same category level: [ N light][N house]. SO, following Williams (1981), the head will be
defined as
(3)

In morphology we define the head of a morphologically complex word to be the right-hand


member of that word. Call this definition the Right-hand Head Rule (RHR).

2. The Place of Word Structure Rules in Grammar


- the rules of W-syntax are housed in the lexical component or lexicon.
- the lexical component contains a variety of subcomponents:
a) a list of freely occurring lexical items (assumed to be atomic and complex words) = dictionary or
lexicon in the restricted sense;
b) a list of the bound morphemes, which together with the dictionary = the extended dictionary;
c) the set of word structure rules (WSR) characterizing the possible morphological structure of the
language.
The Extended Dictionary + word formation rules = the word structure component or the morphological
base.
- the dictionary also includes those phrases that are usually called idioms and those having idiosyncratic
meaning.
- the dictionary does not include those words that are entirely regular or compositional in form and
meaning.
3. The Nature of Affixes and Affixation. Affixes as lexical items
- affixes are treated as lexical items: affixes are assigned to a category and have a lexical entry, like any
other unbound morpheme or morphologically complex item, be it a word, stem or root.
- the two properties that systematically distinguish affix morphemes from non-affix morphemes:
1) they are always bound;
2) they are assigned to the category type Affix.
- properties of affixes are syntactic, semantic and phonological.
1) syntactic properties:

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(i) the name (feature bundle) and type (X-bar level) of the affixs sister category, and whether the affix is
suffixed or prefixed = the subcategorization frame of the affix
(4)
a. -less = a suffix attaching only to a nominal category of the type N, as in treeless. The category
dominating less is always adjectival.
b. subcategorization frame = [Noun__ ]
(ii) the categorial status of the affix itself.
(5)

-less = the categorial status Aaff

(6)

-less: [Noun__] + Aaff = A[N[tree]N


representation is an adjective)

af
A

[-less]Aaf]A (the category dominating -less in a syntactic

2) semantic properties
- the semantic analysis of an affix as a function involving a change in lexical form
- there are deverbal forms which do not inherit the lexical form of the verb intact (recall Aronoffs
adjustment rules).
- the -en passive suffix brings about a change in the association of the grammatical function to the
subcategorization frame of the lexical item:
(7)

-able affixation:
(i) Obj Subj
(ii) Subj by Obj/.
- the semantic analysis of the suffix -able = able to be Ved

(8)

-ette, -let = small N

3) phonological properties
- the pronunciation of the affix itself
- the possibility of bringing about changes in the pronunciation of surrounding morphemes
SO, the lexical entry of an affix will have the format in (9):
(9)

Lexical Entry of an Affix


a) Category (including type (always Affix), syntactic category features, and diacritic features)
b) Subcategorization frame
c) Semantic functions
d) Phonological representation

4. The Category Type involved in Affixation.


- English affixes fall into distinct classes with respect to their phonological properties.
- Chomsky and Halle (1968) in their SPE (the Sound Pattern of English, 1968) treatment of English word
phonology call them neutral and non-neutral affixes.
a) neutral affixes are ignored by the principles determining the stress pattern (stress-neutral); are
preceded (or followed) by the word boundary,

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b) non-neutral affixes are not ignored by the stress pattern principles; are preceded (or followed) by the
morpheme boundary +
- there is a pattern to the distribution that the non-neutral (+) and neutral (#) affixes have with respect to
each other (Siegel 1974).
- Siegel uses the terms Class I and Class II to refer to these affixes:
(10)

Class I suffixes: +ion, +ity, +y, +al, +ic, +ate, +ous, +ive
Class I prefixes: re+, con+, de+, sub+, pre+, in+, en+, be+
Class II suffixes: #ness, #less, #hood, #ful, #ly, #y, #like
Class II prefixes: re#, sub#, un#, non#, de#, semi#, anti#

Siegels empirical claim, which Selkirk (1982:91) calls the Affix Ordering Generalization (AOG), is that
Class II affixes may appear outside [non-neutral] Class I affixes, but Class I affixes may not appear
outside Class II [neutral] affixes.
-the suffixes -ous and -ity are Class I [non-neutral] affixes; the suffixes -ness and less are Class II
[neutral].
- we find:
(11)

(i) -ous1 -ity1 as in [[monstr-os1]-ity1], or -ity1 -ous1 as in [[procliv-it1]-ous1], on the one hand,
and
(ii) -less2 -ness2 as in [[fear-less2]-ness2] or -ness2 -less2 as in [[tender-ness2]-less2], on the other.

BUT, suffixes of Class I precede those of Class II, as in:


(iii) [[danger-ous1]-ness2], [[activ-ity1]-less2]), but not vice versa *fear-less2-ity1, *tender-ness2ous1).
- combinations of prefixes and suffixes
- class I prefix in- wrt the class I suffixes -ive and -ate and the Class II suffixes -ish and -ness. The prefix
in- may appear either inside or outside the Class I suffixes -ive and -ity as in:
(12)

[in1 -[sensit]-ive1]], [in1-[[sensit]-iv1]-ity1].

- the prefix in- may also occur inside Class II suffixes, but not outside of them, as in:
(13)

[[in1-[hospitable]-ness2], *[in1-[glutton]-ish2]].

SO, there are systematic differences between the two sorts of affixes. The rules attaching Class I affixes
apply before rules attaching Class II affixes. In this way Class I affixes will always precede Class II
affixes.
- the rules of the morphological component are organized into extrinsically ordered blocks or levels
(known as the Level Ordering Hypothesis), the rules within each block being unordered with respect to
each other.
- For English, the order of application, the blocks (levels) are:
(14)

Level I (+Affixation)
Stress Rule

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Level II (#Affixation)
Level III (Compounding)