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Linguistic Universals and Language Change$
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Jeff Good

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298495

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298495.001.0001

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Paradigmatic Uniformity and Markedness

Paradigmatic Uniformity and Markedness

(p.125) 6 Paradigmatic Uniformity and Markedness
Linguistic Universals and Language Change

Andrew Garrett

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys a set of levelings and extensions affecting verb paradigms in two languages: English and Ancient Greek. It shows that pure leveling does not exist and that the emergence of paradigm uniformity is always the imposition of an existing (uniform) pattern on a non-uniform paradigm. It identifies a systematic difference between English and Ancient Greek in the directionality of paradigmatic changes. In English (and other languages), present-tense verb forms influence preterites; in Ancient Greek, presents are influenced by non-presents (aorists). This finding is not readily accommodated by theories invoking frequency or form predictability as the major factors influencing paradigmatic directionality, and a more complex theory is needed that also takes account of the semantics of morphological categories.

Keywords:   Ancient Greek, English, levelings, verb paradigms, paradigm uniformity, present tense

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