Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Data from language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and diachronic studies have all shown that the lexicon has a clear internal structure, which includes relationships among lexical items based on phonetic and phonological characteristics, semantic features, morphology, and frequency of use. In the absence, however, of direct evidence from grammar, such lexical structure has even recently been deemed irrelevant to linguistic theory. In this paper, I use evidence from German grammar, specifically gender assignment, to support a model of lexical structure like that proposed particularly within Natural Morphology. German gender assignment has been shown to be largely predictable on the basis of phonological shape (e.g. final and initial segments or clusters), semantic features, and morphological features — all factors considered to be part of the lexicon's internal structure by Bybee and others. In this way gender assignment reflects lexical structure. Moreover, frequently used vocabulary tends to violate such rules, as Bybee's view of lexical structure would predict. By so doing, German grammar exploits almost exactly the structure of the lexicon which has been proposed based on data from areas other than grammar in its narrow sense.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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