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Pleonastic morphology dies hard

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Abstract

Lithuanian displays a variety of morphological phenomena which languageindependently pass as highly marked. This paper looks at one particularly intriguing feature, namely definiteness inflection in the guise of pleonastic morphology. The synchronic facts of modern standard Lithuanian are presented and assessed first. Their diachronic development from the earliest Lithuanian records to the present is surveyed. Variation on the non-standard level and the state-of-affairs in the Latvian dialect cluster are addressed too, in order to determine whether or not the dynamics of pleonastic morphology conform to the predictions by extant theories of morphological change. It is shown that, within the Lithuanian diasystem, pleonastic morphology proves remarkably resistant to reductive change. On the other hand, the attested variation in the dialects suggests that when changes affect the system they do not necessarily lead to a wholesale disintegration of the marked kind of inflection.

References

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