The role of syntax and morphology in compounding

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In this chapter it is argued that, although syntax is not directly involved in the formation of compounds themselves, competition between the syntactic and morphological modules of grammar (Ackema and Neeleman 2001, 2004) has a decisive influence on compounding. This is because this type of competition has the effect that certain, grammatically possible, compounds will not surface in a language. This is why synthetic compounds can be based on root compounds that do not themselves surface. We argue that, if the morphology of a language really does not allow for the relevant type of root compound to be formed, then the associated synthetic compounds are ruled out just as well. The fate of synthetic compounds during the development of Saramaccan (and some other creole languages) is shown to provide clear evidence for this hypothesis.


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