Verb morphology gone astray

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This article explores the phenomenon of syncretism in Gallo-Romance varieties from the perspective of the Autonomy of Morphology. Synchronically, syncretism is neither motivated by phonology nor by syntax. It is an obvious deviation from the canonical one-to-one relationship between form and meaning. I assume that syncretism divides into two types: ‘stable’ (or systematic) and ‘spontaneous’ (or accidental) syncretism. The distribution pattern of systematic syncretism is found in different conjugational classes and may also influence suppletion. These observations suggest that stable syncretism is not a mere surface phenomenon but that it rather provides insights into the morphological structure of a language. On this deeper level, specific recurrent patterns underlying the distribution of both syncretic and suppletive cells can be identified. These patterns are interpreted as a sign of an autonomous morphological component in grammar.


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