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The Morphology and Phonology of Exponence$
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Jochen Trommer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573721

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573721.001.0001

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Polarity and constraints on paradigmatic distinctness

Polarity and constraints on paradigmatic distinctness

Chapter:
(p.160) 5 Polarity and constraints on paradigmatic distinctness
Source:
The Morphology and Phonology of Exponence
Author(s):

Dieter Wunderlich

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573721.003.0006

Polarity, a type of syncretism, is decomposed into diagonal syncretism (one feature marked, the other feature unmarked, i.e. +F,-G and -F,+G expressed by the same form) and full reversal (two features either both marked or both unmarked). Diagontal syncretism is found in various inflectional systems and can be regarded as a phenomenon of second order natural classes, defined in markedness degrees. In contrast, full reversal should not exist because it would be hard to learn that a certain form expresses either –F,-G or +F,+G. However, several authors claimed the existence of morphological polarity (full reversal). The more detailed investigation reveals the possibility of inflectional class polarity (the exponents of +F vs. –F in one class of items are reversed in another class of items), either for semantic reasons: a certain affix might negate inherent number, or for phonological reasons: an ablaut vowel should be distinct from the underlying vowel. Polarity is also possible as the last resort for expressing contrast in a degenerate paradigm (Old French declension).

Keywords:   morphological polarity, diagonal syncretism, full reversal, paradigmatic markedness, inflectional contrast, inherent number, ablaut, recursive paradigm construction, degenerate paradigm, contrast constraint

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