Morphology and its interfaces: Syntax, semantics and the lexicon
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
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The presence of semantically empty morphs (linking elements) in compounds poses a challenge for morpheme-based morphology. The purpose of this paper is to solve the problem using Distributed Morphology, which is a highly articulated version of morpheme-based morphology. Specifically, exploiting the empirical similarities between linking elements and expletives, I argue that linking elements are expletives in word domains. Moreover, I demonstrate that the Single Engine Hypothesis of Distributed Morphology theoretically supports the view of linking elements as expletives. In my analysis, linking elements function as markers of wordhood, just as phrasal expletives are markers of phrasehood. I confirm this view by showing that linking elements/expletives occur in all types of compounds.


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