LingLunch : Jean Lowenstamm

Jeudi 06 Juin 2024, 12:00 to 13:00
Karen De Clercq et Ira Noveck (LLF)

LLF – Bât. ODG – 5e étage – Salle du conseil (533)

Jean Lowenstamm (LLF)
Inflectional Morphology - The empirical content of DM's Competition for Insertion scheme

 In this presentation, I want to examine several proposals as to how verbs acquire the inflection marks  which manifest the agreement of the verb with its subject. With most investigators, I accept the idea that such marks are made up of 1) morphosyntactic features expressing Person, Number and Gender, and 2) the phonological representations corresponding to the pronunciation of each of the various combinations of morphosyntactic features (the signifiant of such combinations). The null hypothesis might be that, for any combination of morphosyntactic features, e.g. 1st Person, Plural, and Feminine, those morphosyntactic features are bundled into one unique package together with their corresponding phonological representation. For the French example, the ‘package’ would be as in (1).

(1) [1st Person, Plural, Feminine, +õ(z)].

In Distributed Morphology (DM), on the other hand, morphosyntactic features are packed separately from their corresponding phonological representations, as shown in (2) (the arguments for splitting the lot will be reviewed).

(2)                                                         a.                                                                                                          b.

[Morphosyntactic package 1st Person, Plural, Feminine]                                                 [Phonological package  +õ(z)]

Under the scheme in (1), +õ(z) – because it is pre-packaged together with specific morphosyntactic features – cannot fail to end up being their rightful signifiant. But, under the DM scheme, a mechanism has to be designed to ensure the fit between each morphosyntactic bundle of features and its rightful phonological signifiant. The operation of that mechanism, « Competition for Insertion », will be demonstrated and evaluated. It will be argued that Competition for Insertion is formally unsound and has no empirical content. An alternative will be proposed.