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Meaning variation and change in Greek morphology

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Abstract

The paper discusses how and why meaning variants can arise in words like <i>sin-&#233;rxome, sin-gr&#225;fo</i> and <i>sin-taksidh&#233;vo: sin-&#233;rxome</i> has both an idiosyncratic meaning &#8220;recover&#8221; and a compositional meaning &#8220;come with&#8221;, while <i>sin-gr&#225;fo</i> only has the idiosyncratic meaning &#8220;I author&#8221; and <i>sin-taksidh&#233;vo</i> only has the compositional reading &#8220;I co-travel&#8221;. In this paper I confine myself to this kind of morpho-semantic variation within Greek, synchronically and, to a limited extent, diachronically. The spectrum of explanations will range from the Saussurian &#8216;arbitraire&#8217; to folk etymology, to the dichotomy &#8216;the lexicon vs. the syntax&#8217;, and finally to the minimalist &#8216;only the syntax is generative&#8217;. Under the syntacticallyoriented theory of Distributed Morphology (Marantz 2001 etc.), I show how the place of merger for a given affix may vary between affix+root, giving idiosyncratic interpretations (<i>sin-gr&#225;fo</i>), and affix+(categorised) stem, giving compositional interpretations (<i>sin-taksidh&#233;vo</i>). The paper concludes with a brief extension to meaning change within the same framework.

References

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