A Theory of the Morphology-Syntax Interface
AUTHOR: Li, Yafei
PUBLISHER: MIT Press
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This important monograph offers a resolution to the debate in theoretical linguisticsover the role of syntactic head movement in word formation. It does so by synthesizing the syntacticand lexicalist approaches on the basis of the empirical data that support each side. In trying todetermine how a morphologically complex word is formed in Universal Grammar, generative linguistshave argued either that a substantial amount of morphological phenomena result from head movement inovert syntax (the widely adopted syntactic approach) or that morphological/lexical means are bothnecessary and sufficient for a theory of word formation (the Lexicalist Hypothesis). Li examinesboth the linguistic facts that are brought to light for the first time and the existing data in theliterature and shows that each side has an empirical foundation that cannot be negated by the other.Since neither approach is adequate to explain all the facts of word formation, he argues, the way toachieve a unified account lies in synthesizing the empirically advantageous portions of bothapproaches into one simple and coherent theory.Li begins by demonstrating how a theory that combinesthe essence of the syntactic and lexicalist approaches can account more accurately for the variousmorphological constructions analyzed in the literature by means of syntactic verb incorporation. Hethen examines causativization on the adjectival root, noun incorporation in polysynthetic languages,and the possibility that the word formation part of the Lexicalist Hypothesis -- which is crucial tohis theory -- can be derived as a theorem from a version of the X-bar theory. He concludes bydiscussing methodological issues in current linguistic research.
PUBLICATION DATE: 12/23/2004
CATEGORY: Language Arts & Disciplines