The lexicalisation of syncope

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Syncope is a prosodically motivated process removing medial vowels in longstemmed disyllabic Old English adjectives e.g. <i>h&#257;lig</i> &#8216;holy&#8217; when inflected: nom/ <i>h&#257;lgu &#42;h&#257;l</i><bi>i</bi><i>gu</i>. Syncope should not affect short-stemmed forms such as <i>hefig</i> &#8216;heavy&#8217; e.g. nom/ <i>hef</i><bi>i</bi><i>g &#42;hefgu</i> (Campbell 1959). However, forms such as <i>h&#257;lig</i> include derivational <i>-ig,</i> and produce surprising results. in relation to syncope, showing both over- and underapplication not attested in morphologically simple words. Two historical <i>-ig</i> suffixes exist: <i>ig&#185;</i> (vulnerable to syncope) and <i>-ig&#178;</i> (immune to syncope). I will show how this interaction of syncope with <i>ig&#185;</i> results in a case of lexicalisation. I argue that cases of overapplication of syncope in forms containing <i>-ig&#185;</i> e.g. short-stemmed <i>hefgu</i> indicate the lexicalisation of syncope in forms exhibiting <i>-ig&#185;</i>. Syncope becomes associated with <i>-ig&#185;</i> to the extent that the affix itself becomes reanalysed as /j/ from /ij/ underlyingly. The original phonological conditions for syncope therefore cease to apply (Anderson 1989).


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