Minimal Words in a Minimal Syntax

Word formation in Swedish

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In <i>Minimal Words in a Minimal Syntax</i> the author combines a detailed description of the morphological structure of words in Swedish with a daring new approach to theoretical morphology, based on the Minimalist Program of Chomsky (1995) (as developed for syntactic structure). The X-bar theoretic approach to word structure of the Principles and Parameters framework is replaced by a rule free approach incorporating only Merge and Move as structure building devices. The author argues that stems have no word class features, which are provided inflectional affixes (including theme vowels etc.). Inflectional and derivational affixes differ only in the external syntactic requirement that inflectional affixes are associated with features that require checking in the functional domain. An important analysis of compounding is included, where binding elements are analyzed as a result of structural antisymmetry requirements a la Kayne (1994). Old chestnuts of morphological theory, such as the notion “head of a word” and the nature and structure of the lexicon, are succinctly discussed in the light of the theoretical proposals advanced here. On the empirical side, there are two lengthy chapters involving the semantic characterization of prefixes and suffixes in Swedish, explaining their distribution in terms of “types of Aktionsarten” imposed by the affix on its host.

Subjects: Syntax; Morphology; Germanic linguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Lund

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