- Many morphologies ed. by Paul Boucher
This collection of nine peer-reviewed and edited articles explores a variety of morphological topics and proposes different types of formal solutions. The breadth, coupled with the quality of the papers, makes it a good introduction to some of the exciting work in this field being developed today.
Morphology is often studied alongside syntax, and it is therefore not surprising that many of the collection’s papers are at the crossroads of these two disciplines. ‘The asymmetry of morphology’ by AnnaMaria Di Sciullo and a paper on compounding and lexical insertion by Joseph Emonds address the relationship between the two explicitly. Di Sciullo shows that asymmetrical relations, familiar from syntax, are also part of morphological expressions and thus are an integral part of the grammar as a whole. Emonds notes that the goal of unifying morphology and syntax does not require a morphology explained entirely in terms of theories of phrasal syntax; nor does ‘a failure of purely phrasal (word-external) syntax to explain morphology [necessitate] . . . embracing some theory of autonomous morphology’ (236). In his attempt to unify the two subfields, he challenges some current ideas in both syntax and morphology.
Two papers deal with the semantic structure of intransitive verbs: One, by Boẓena Cetnarowska, examines diagnostic tests for the split between unergative and unaccusative predicates in Polish and English; the other, by Christian Bassac and Pierrette Bouillon, is a lexical analysis of the syntactic mapping of middles in English. They are followed by papers by Susan Steele and Jacqueline Lecarme on plural formation. Steele’s paper deals with the [End Page 792] Luiseño plural morph and combines a processual view of morphology with the idea that inflection is informationally additive. Lecarme focuses on Somali, where nouns systematically appear to assume the opposite gender in the plural. She also explores partial subject-verb agreement in Cushitic, suggesting that it might be extended to similar facts in Semitic and Celtic.
Luigi Burzio’s paper, ‘Surface-to-surface morphology: When your representations turn into constraints’, is the only paper in the volume to deal extensively with the relationship between morphology and phonology. It is also one of the most ambitious, proposing to ‘expand the role of output-to-output relations in a way that can take over the function of morphology completely’ (174). In doing so, it builds on work that Burzio has been developing for a number of years in which he argues that humans arrive at the surface forms of words only through reference to other surface forms.
Two papers deal with computational morphology. Nabil Hathout, Fiammetta Namer, and Georgette Dal describe the ongoing development of MorTAL, an experimental constructional (i.e. derivational) database for French. Their paper is followed by that of Béatrice Daille, Cécile Fabre, and Pascale Sèbillot, which offers a survey of computational morphology applications. They discuss the types of morphological information used by natural language processing systems and representative examples of applications that use morphological information. Their article highlights the importance of morphology to natural language processing systems.