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Antonio Fábregas and Sergio Scalise. 2012. Morphology: From data to theories. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Pp. xii + 209. £19.90 (softcover).

Morphology: From data to theories is a new morphology textbook aimed at advanced undergraduate or early graduate students in linguistics. This book has three broad pedagogical goals. Its first goal is to introduce the readers to the newest frameworks in morphological research, such as Distributed Morphology (DM; Harbour 2007, Harley 2012) and Construction Grammar (CG; Booij 2010). Its second goal is to introduce a wide range of cross-linguistic data and use these data to evaluate the empirical import of each theory. Its third overarching goal is to discuss the role of morphology within the architecture of grammar: its status and its relation with syntax, phonology, and semantics. Thus, the book presents a state-of-the-art introduction to modern morphology and current morphological theories. [End Page 284]

Chapter 1 offers a brief summary of some basic morphological notions so that readers can engage in a discussion of the basic tenets and questions of the discipline. The chapter introduces the standard notion of morpheme as a minimal unit of language that pairs a meaning with a form. The broader debate between constructionist and lexicalist approaches is introduced in order to illustrate the theoretical differences among morphological theories. As explained in the chapter, constructionist approaches contend that morphological processes apply to morphemes only (DM, but also CG). Lexicalist approaches, on the other hand, contend that larger structures such as words and constructions are the main target of these processes (e.g., the “listemes” of DiSciullo and Williams 1987). Morphemes, qua parts of these structures, can only be indirectly involved in these processes.

Chapter 2 discusses various types of morphological units, from morphemes to constructions, and their theoretical status across theories. For each level of a stipulated morphological unit, a theory that centres on this unit is discussed. For instance, the notion of “morphome” advocated by Aronoff (1994) (e.g., thematic vowels in Romance verbs) is considered in relation to the existence of an independent level of morphology. The chapter presents discussions of cases that are problematic for all theories in order to highlight the limits of any theoretical proposal (e.g., cranberry morphemes). Thus, chapters 1 and 2 offer a solid introduction to the topics that are further discussed in the other chapters.

Chapter 3 focuses on morphological structures and the relation between the notions of word and morpheme. For instance, the meaning of disallow is generally seen as being compositionally derived from the meaning of the negation prefix dis-, and the verb allow. Thus, a word such as disallow can be seen as involving a minimally complex morphological structure, composed of a lexical category and a prefix. Different theories of word structure are discussed, including proposals that offer arguments against the very existence of such structures, such as the “a-morphous morphology” of Anderson (1992).

Chapter 4 focuses on inflectional morphology. For each theory under discussion, the authors discuss empirical merits and shortcomings in an impartial and thorough manner. One case involves the discussion of inflectional paradigms, and the two principal types of accounts for this morphological notion. Morphological theories in the “word paradigm” tradition (Anderson 1992) suggest that words are the minimal units over which morphological rules range. Thus, they treat paradigms as primitive morphological objects: sets of correspondences between clusters of features and the words that realize each cluster. In “item and arrangement” theories (e.g., Harbour 2007), paradigms are instead derived morphological objects that emerge via the combination of words and inflectional morphemes. As discussed in the chapter, word paradigm theories seem to be better suited to analyse cases such as suppletion, since suppletion involves the realization of different words for minimally different clusters of features (e.g., go–went). Thus, they seem to have an empirical advantage over item and arrangement phenomena, when inflectional patterns are analysed.

Chapter 5 discusses derivational processes, such as nominalization and verbalization (e.g., destroy–destruction, song–to sing), since they change the categorial (i.e., syntactic) and semantic status of an input category. Phenomena such as [End Page 285] (category) conversion and appreciative...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1115
Print ISSN
0008-4131
Pages
pp. 284-287
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-26
Open Access
No
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