Chapter 3. Derivational paradigms in diachrony 
and comparison

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Wordlists used for subgrouping and long-range comparison under-utilize the verbal lexicon, and comparative work of all kinds makes more use of lexical roots and inflectional morphology than word formation. This chapter is a first attempt to utilize derivational morphology of verbs, in particular typologies of derivational processes and derivational bases, in subgrouping and external comparison of several language families of Eurasia. The basic method has four steps: set up a closed list of well-defined lexemes; set up a derivational type or paradigm or space and situate each word in that paradigm; determine which, if any, of the words or word forms in the paradigm is basic; and utilize what can be known about how the base determines the evolution of the whole set. It turns out that properties of the base plus the structure of the paradigm, together with some minimal information about the cognacy and/or segmental structure of the root, can yield a surprisingly good subgrouping from a small wordlist. Addition of this approach to the usual set of comparative procedures could increase the rigor of external comparison.


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