This chapter summarises various searches for constraints on how inflectional morphology operates. Inflection has of course been mentioned often already, particularly in chapters 2, 4 and 6. But the work described here differs from that described in chapters 2 and 4 in that its starting-point, so to speak, is the other side of the morphological sign: the signified rather than the signifier. Scholars such as Jackendoff, Lieber and Baker, despite their disagreements, all focus first on relatively concrete aspects of word structure-the division of words into stems and affixes, and alternations in the shape of these elements —and proceed to try to account for these in lexical or syntactic terms. By contrast, linguists such as Stephen R.Anderson, Arnold Zwicky and Andrew Carstairs take as their starting-point relatively abstract aspects of how words function syntactically-the contrasting syntactic categories, such as Case or Tense, which may be expressed in different forms of the same lexical word (or lexeme) —and then consider how these categories (or the properties belonging to them) are expressed inflectionally. Zwicky’s work is part of a wider Interface Program, exploring the interfaces between different components of grammar (phonology and syntax, phonology and morphology, syntax and morphology) (Pullum and Zwicky 1988; Zwicky 1990); but all three are more or less explicitly concerned with the search for constraints on how inflection works. This search is closer in spirit to Bybee’s enterprise, described in chapter 6, than to the concerns of chapters 2 and 4. But, whereas that work of Bybee’s concerns mainly the semantic aspect of inflection (identifying which ‘meanings’ are most typically expressed inflectionally rather than derivationally, and why), the scholars discussed here concentrate more on formal issues: how the clusters of morphosyntactic properties which a given word-form expresses are structured internally, and how they are ‘spelled out’ inflectionally (through affixes, stem changes or whatever). These questions are implicitly raised by Chomsky’s treatment in Aspects (1965:171) of word-forms such as German Brüder ‘of (the) brothers’. As mentioned
in chapter 2, Chomsky envisages a surface syntactic structure in which Plural and Genitive are not separate terminal elements but rather ‘values’ of the ‘features’ [Number] and [Case] associated with the terminal element Bruder and interpreted phonologically as umlaut. So it may seem odd that this chapter is not included in part I. Certainly, some, if not all, the scholars discussed here would see their work as part of the generative enterprise, seeking to explicate aspects of Universal Grammar as an innate mental faculty. But, perhaps by mere historical accident, the workers on morphology (at MIT and elsewhere) who have remained in closest touch with concurrent developments in Chomsky’s own views on syntax have chosen not to develop the hints on inflection contained in Aspects. The investigations discussed here have therefore been pursued with little direct stimulus from the Chomskyan mainstream, and are therefore to that extent ‘nonChomskyan’.