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  • The lexeme in descriptive and theoretical morphology ed. by Olivier Bonami et al.
  • Laurie Bauer
The lexeme in descriptive and theoretical morphology. Ed. by Olivier Bonami, Gilles Boyé, Georgette Dal, Hélène Giraudo, and Fiammetta Namer. (Empirically oriented theoretical morphology and syntax 4.) Berlin: Language Science, 2018. Pp. xiv, 543. ISBN 9783961101115. $70 (Hb).

This collection of twenty papers, focused on the notion of the lexeme, is dedicated to Bernard Fradin, who has done much to make lexeme-centered morphology a major focus in France in particular and in Europe more generally. The book not only highlights the breadth of Fradin’s influence across Europe and the United States, but it also brings together a number of thoughtful pieces on the nature of the lexeme, potential problems with a lexeme-based morphology, and benefits of such a theory.

In the introduction (v–xiv), the editors set out the notion of lexeme (deriving in particular from the work of Matthews, e.g. 1972) and provide a brief summary of the papers, focusing on the thematic parts into which the book is ordered. The lexeme of Fradin and his colleagues (see e.g. Fradin 2003) contrasts with the grammeme, which includes classes such as prepositions and articles (contrast Bauer 2019, where there is a lexemic level). Initialisms are apparently not lexemes (74), even though they may inflect (e.g. All the FBIs in the world could not stop a determined assassin). Fradin’s lexeme also contrasts with the flexeme (a.k.a. the inflecteme), so that the lexeme is characterized in terms of its semantic and syntactic behavior, while the flexeme is characterized by its inflectional behavior. Homophonous words may share inflectional behavior (different lexemes but same flexeme) or may have different inflectional behavior (different lexeme and different flexeme). The term series is used in a way unfamiliar in Anglophone morphology for a paradigm of morphological forms linked by the same affix or morphological process, so that employee, payee, retiree form (part of) a series.

The book is ordered into four parts. The first of these is entitled ‘Lexemes in standard descriptive and theoretical lexeme-based morphology’ and contains papers by Mark Aronoff (3–17), Gilles Boyé (19–41), and Franz Rainer (43–65). This is really a set of papers that do not belong elsewhere in the collection, but they are nonetheless worth reading. Aronoff sketches his own intellectual journey from the structuralist morpheme to the lexeme, and shows why morphology [End Page 456] has always fit uneasily into the generative paradigm. This is, thus, a chapter in the history of linguistics rather than a piece of morphology, but it is related to morphological themes and puts some of the work of the last part of the twentieth century into perspective. Boyé’s piece is a standard investigation into whether numerals in French count as lexemes or grammemes (he concludes that they are lexemes), but is notable for the amount of detail it provides on the linguistic behavior of numerals in French. Teachers of French language would benefit from this piece, as would the more theoretically inclined. Rainer’s chapter is in the tradition of chaque mot a son histoire and traces the history of his example lexemes capitalist and capitalism through various languages, but with a focus on French. It becomes quite clear that the meanings that are associated with the lexemes cannot be derived from the individual word-parts (morphemes), but must belong to the lexemes as units.

The second part is called ‘Lexeme formation rules’ (LFRs)—which are the rules that Aronoff (1976) called word-formation rules. The authors in this section are concerned with the factors that LFRs have to take into account and what the limits of the LFRs might be. Delphine Tribout and Dany Amiot (69–86) deal with distinguishing lexeme formation from coercion, extending coercion to operating over word-class boundaries. Georgette Dal (87–118) looks at whether adverbial -ment in French (whose behavior is in many ways similar to adverbial -ly in English) is class-changing, and thus, whether...


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