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Michael S. Flier, David J. Birnbaum, and Cynthia M. Vakareliyska, eds. Philology Broad and Deep: In Memoriam Horace G. Lunt. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2014, 55–82. The Macedonian imperfect past: Its structure and theoretical implications for the morphology of inflectional meaning Mark J. Elson Abstract: Proceeding from the innovations that relate contemporary dialectal paradigms of the Macedonian imperfect past to their Middle Macedonian progenitor, this paper hypothesizes the assignment of inflectional meaning to desinential form in the imperfect paradigm. The paper concludes with an attempt to extrapolate therefrom to generalizations on the accommodation of inflectional meaning in fusional languages like Macedonian, where discrete and uniform accommodation is more often than not impossible. 1. Introduction Morphologically, the paradigm of the imperfect past (hereafter the imperfect) in the Slavic languages presents analytic difficulties typical of those often encountered in fusional languages. The relevant inflectional categories are aspect, tense, person, and number, but the available post-lexical phonemic substance of the imperfect does not permit them to be incorporated uniformly or discretely,1 requiring, in the usual interpretation , portmanteau incorporation (i.e., the assignment of more than one inflectional meaning to a single unit of form). By contrast, the paradigm is transparent in its reconstructed composition despite uncertainties relating to its provenance. It was originally a thematic formation comprising, in addition to the thematic vowel, a vocalic morpheme incorporating aspect (i.e., imperfect), a consonantal morpheme incorporating tense (i.e., past), and a second consonantal morpheme incorporating person , with the thematic vowel appearing between the morphemes incorporating tense and person (e.g., desinential *-ěa-x-o-m in the first person singular).2 This transparent , agglutinative-like structure was compromised, as it so often is in fusional languages , by phonetic change, leaving the desinential strings we find synchronically. 1 I use incorporation as a term to denote the process by which speakers associate a string S with an inflectional meaning M, yielding a morpheme. Fusional languages typically attest desinential strings incapable of uniform incorporation of relevant inflectional meaning. I have dealt with the problem they pose in Elson 2004, and will continue the discussion here, in my concluding remarks. 2 For a brief morphological history of the imperfect, see Lunt 2001: 246–68. 56 Mark J. Elson The purpose of this paper is to examine the incorporation of inflectional meaning in the Macedonian imperfect on the basis of the extensive dialectal data in Vidoeski 1998–99, and thus to supplement the findings of Elson 2005b, a far more restricted discussion based on the limited data in Vidoeski 1962. Following Kiparsky 1968 and Skousen 1975, I will, as before, use the evidence of history in the form of non-phonetic changes typically termed analogical to infer synchronic structure.3 Although this approach does not make possible definitive and comprehensive conclusions with regard to the morphological organization of the imperfect in all contemporary dialects, it does make possible generalizations regarding this organization. I will conclude by extrapolating from these generalizations, thus attempting to provide insight into the morphological organization of inflectional meaning in fusional languages.4 2. Background 2.1. The conjugational unit of Contemporary Macedonian The conjugational unit of Contemporary Macedonian (CM), dialectal as well as standard, comprises eight paradigms, four finite—present, imperfect, aorist, and imperative5 —as well as four nonfinite—participle, adjective, adverb, and substantive. The reference point for comparative description of dialectal conjugations is, by convention , standard conjugation, for which the third person singular of the present serves as the citation form, and the classification of verbs is based on the post-lexical vowel of the citation form. There are three realizations of this vowel: a (e.g., 3Sg 3 This approach does not reflect confusion of diachrony with synchrony, but a recognition that the two are inseparable, each a part of the other, and that innovation is the only source of evidence for the behavior, and thus the existence and meaning, of morphemes. For discussion, see Kiparsky 1968 and Skousen 1975. 4 Vidoeski, it should be noted, does not deal adequately with the morphological incorporation of inflectional meaning, either synchronically or diachronically. He brings to bear no theory other than his assumption of the morpheme as a linguistic primitive. He posits, usually in vague terms, correlations of form with inflectional meaning and, in the diachronic domain, refers to analogy, or, alternatively, to innovation motivated by the need to avoid homonymy. There is no attempt, however, to justify synchronic correlations of form with meaning or to consider their theoretical relevance. 5...

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