Morphological evidence for the paradigmatic status of infinitives in French and Occitan

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This study examines the morphological behaviour of the infinitive in French and Occitan in diachrony, finding that the infinitive and the rest of the verb paradigm exhibit differential behaviour. The infinitive is the last member of the paradigm to undergo analogical change, or undergoes an idiosyncratic change; in cases of conjugational class shift, the infinitive is typically affected last, if at all; in paradigms presenting overabundance, overabundant forms are either confined to the infinitive, or to paradigm cells excluding the infinitive; and the availability (or otherwise) of infinitives in defective paradigms provides strong evidence for a distinction between ‘decay’ and ‘arrested development’ as subtypes of defectiveness. The study proposes that treating the infinitive as a morphologically mixed category, a member of two paradigms at once, can account both for cases in which the infinitive simultaneously displays properties of nouns and verbs, and for the idiosyncratic behaviour of the infinitive.


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