Defective Paradigms

Defective Paradigms : Missing Forms and What They Tell Us

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An important design feature of language is the use of productive patterns in inflection. In English, we have pairs such as 'enjoy' ~ 'enjoyed', 'agree' ~ 'agreed', and many others. On the basis of this productive pattern, if we meet a new verb 'transduce' we know that there will be the form 'transduced'. Even if the pattern is not fully regular, there will be a form available, as in 'understand' ~ 'understood'. Surprisingly, this principle is sometimes violated, a
phenomenon known as defectiveness, which means there is a gap in a word's set of forms: for example, given the verb 'forego', many if not most people are unwilling to produce a past tense.

Although such gaps have been known to us since the days of Classical grammarians, they remain poorly understood. Defectiveness contradicts basic assumptions about the way inflectional rules operate, because it seems to require that speakers know that for certain words, not only should one not employ the expected rule, one should not employ any rule at all. This is a serious problem, since it is probably safe to say that all reigning models of grammar were designed as if defectiveness did not
exist, and would lose a considerable amount of their elegance if it were properly factored in.

This volume addressed these issues from a number of analytical approaches - historical, statistical and theoretical - and by using studies from a range of languages.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 164 x 241 x 21mm | 542g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0197264603
  • 9780197264607

Table of contents

Introduction: Defectiveness: typology and diachrony ; Failing one's obligations: defectiveness in Rumantsch reflexes of DEBERE ; Defectiveness as stem suppletion in French and Spanish verbs ; Defective paradigms of reflexive nouns and participles in Latvian ; Relative acceptability of missing adjective forms in Swedish ; Defective verbal paradigms in Hungarian: description and experimental study ; On morphomic defectiveness: evidence from the Romance languages of the Iberian Peninsula ; The search for regularity in irregularity: defectiveness and its implications for our knowledge of words ; Ineffability through modularity: gaps in the French clitic cluster ; Interactions between defectiveness and syncretism
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Review quote

The descriptive content of this volume alone will be of great interest to morphologists. * Linguist List *
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About Matthew Baerman

Matthew M. Baerman is a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey.
Greville G. Corbett is Distinguished Professor of Linguistics and Russian Language, University of Surrey.
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