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Chapter 7: Possible answers to Study Questions

1. In the "Item and Arrangement" model there are variant stems or affixes. Words are built up of arrangement of morphemes, which are the base units and are arranged linearly. In the "Item and Process" model the structure of a word is specified by a series of operations. I & A is more linear; I & P is more sequential. Both models involve morphemes. The past participle of English 'come' does not fit well in the I & A model because it seems strange to mark an inflection with nothing, but it does fit in the I & P model, where it is in a category of words for which the process of forming the past participle adds nothing to the original form.

2. In chapter 7 Matthews discusses the following morphological processes:

  • lexical (i.e. pie-->pie-s)
  • inflectional (i.e. tempt-->tempt-ed)
  • Both lexical and inflectional morphological processes can involve the following processes ([ ]s have been used in place of superscripting and subscripting of characters.)

  • modification (of the base)
  • total (suppletion) (i.e. go-->went)
  • partial (i.e. man-->men)
  • In his discussion of reduplication, Matthews only mentions 'partial' and 'complete', saying that "a detailed typology might arguably be too tedious for this kind of book." Within the subtypes that he mentions, he makes reference to reduplication without consonants, suffix-like forms, infixal reduplication, as well as complete reduplication of the root.

    3. In some cases, M. seems concerned with questions of "directionality." Explain his concern, as you understand it. Is this an important question, and if so, do you see any way to settle it?

    In some cases, it is difficult to discern which form of a word is the "basic" form, from which all other forms are derived or inflected. Occam's Razor seems to be the easiest solution to this problem; the simplest solution (requiring the fewest permutations to acquire new forms) holds the day, so to speak. However, there is no clear answer; a form could be as "easily" derived from one form as from another, although in certain cases it is far simpler to choose one direction over the other (for example, it is much easier to state that English words add a "+d" suffix to create the past tense than to say that they are all removed...and so forth). The question might be important for genetic studies of language, and of words within a single language, and of course is of general interest to any linguist.

     

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