Paradigms at the interface of a lexeme’s syntax and semantics with its inflectional morphology

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The interface of a language’s syntax and semantics with its inflectional morphology is quite constrained: canonically, the morphosyntactic property set that determines a word form’s use and interpretation in a particular syntactic context also determines its inflectional shape in that context. There are, however, frequent deviations from this canonical congruence. Deviations of this sort favor a theory of morphology in which the definition of a word form’s syntactico-semantic content is in principle separate from that of its morphological realization. Such a theory necessitates the postulation of two sorts of paradigms: content paradigms constitute the interface of word forms’ inflectional morphology with their syntax and semantics; form paradigms determine the definition of word forms’ morphological realizations. In a theory of this sort, a language’s inflectional morphology must not only define patterns of inflectional exponence; it must also define the linkage between the cells of a lexeme’s content paradigm and the cells of the form paradigm through whose mediation they are realized morphologically. The Old English conjugational system provides a rich basis for exemplifying a theory of this sort.


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