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The Structure of Words at the Interfaces$
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Heather Newell, Máire Noonan, Glyne Piggott, and Lisa deMena Travis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198778264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198778264.001.0001

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ein is ein and that is that

ein is ein and that is that

A note on anti-homophony and metamorphology

(p.185) 9 ein is ein and that is that
The Structure of Words at the Interfaces

Thomas Leu

Oxford University Press

Assuming no homophony leads to analyses that are surprising from a traditional perspective. For instance, this chapter shows that German would have a morphosyntactically single same d- in dass ‘that’, der ‘the’, jeder ’every’, etc. and a single same ein in ein ‘one’, mein ‘my’, kein ‘no', nein ‘no!’ etc. Based on the syntactic behaviour of d- and ein, respectively, and on a comparison with English and French counterparts, decomposing not into n-o-t and identifying -on in non ‘no!’ and mangeons ‘eat.1pl’ as the same morpheme, it argues that the surprising analysis may actually be correct. While linguists have recourse to comparative evidence, children do not. The chapter suggests that children would be helped in determining the identity of morphemes if they could rely on the absence of homophony, and proposes the homomorphemicity thesis as a property of UG, hence categorically disallowing homophony within certain syntactically defined lexical domains.

Keywords:   homophony, comparative morphology, metamorphology, allomorpheme, extended allomorphy, German, French, indefinite article

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