Modeling and Measuring Inflectional Paradigms

Andrew Hippisley – University of Kentucky
Greg Stump – University of Kentucky
Raphael Finkel – University of Kentucky
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2333 Mason Hall

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The emergence of inferential-realizational approaches to inflection has led to a dramatic reversal of a perspective on morphology that dominated twentieth-century grammatical theory, where inflectional paradigms were regarded as an epiphenomenon of the combinatory properties of inflectional morphemes and were accorded no theoretical importance.   The new perspective suggests that paradigms are essential to the definition of a language’s inflectional morphology and that they constitute a significant domain of measurable typological variation.  The purpose of this course is to investigate both the universal principles of paradigm structure and the dimensions and degrees of cross-linguistic variation in paradigm structure.  Central to our method is the use of computational resources for the formal modeling and typological measurement of inflectional paradigms.  We begin by examining inferential-realizational theories of inflection and their place in the broader theoretical landscape. Numerous considerations decisively favor the inferential-realizational approach.  We exemplify this approach with Paradigm Function Morphology, a precise system of universal principles for the definition of inflectional systems.  We then consider two different approaches to modeling paradigm realization in inferential-realizational theories, the exponence-based approach, computationally illustrated through Network Morphology; and the implicative approach, computationally illustrated by the Principal-Parts Analyzer. Both approaches are then contrasted in the way they account for inflectional classes, and for the exponent-based account we introduce the concept of default inheritance hierarchy, for the implicative the notion of principal parts.  We move on to look at the diversity of paradigm structures, treating it as various departures from a canonical norm.  Two kinds of phenomena responsible for paradigm structure variation are syncretism and deponency, both covered in some detail.  Further variation is identified by considering the predictability of cells, and we consider the implicative structure of paradigms. We go on to relate this concept to the property of inflectional complexity, a point of comparison between languages’ morphological systems that lends itself to a typological treatment.  Throughout the course practical hands-on computational sessions will supplement and illustrate theoretical points made. An introduction to linguistics course is strongly advised, and knowledge of morphology is desirable.


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