Hocank's challenge to morphological theory

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Hočank is a highly endangered Siouan language of Wisconsin and Nebraska which currently is the object of an extensive documentation project at the University of Erfurt, Germany. The paper presents a descriptive investigation of parts of Hočank verb morphology and its implications for morphological theory. Hočank verb morphology – in particular the left side of the verbal complex – reveals cross-linguistically highly unusual and dispreferred patterns which pose a challenge to traditional and contemporaneous morphological theory. Hočank verbs show to some degree systematically a) discontinuous stems, b) stem-internal inflection, and c) inflectional morphology which is morphotactically closer to the verb root than derivational morphology. Diachronically, these patterns derive from the lexicalization of mostly derivational morphology or compounding which eventually led to the entrapment of inflectional prefixes, hence creating interfixes. The traditional notions of infixation and/or interfixation cannot account for these patterns in a satisfying way. Therefore, a partly new and systematized typology of affix types is proposed which takes into consideration the results of diachronic linguistics as well as grammaticalization theory. A grammaticalization path from interfixes to infixes is proposed with regard to the Hočank data but with relevance beyond this individual case.


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