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Understanding and Measuring Morphological Complexity$
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Matthew Baerman, Dunstan Brown, and Greville G. Corbett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723769.001.0001

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Morphological complexity à la Oneida

Morphological complexity à la Oneida

Chapter:
(p.69) 5 Morphological complexity à la Oneida
Source:
Understanding and Measuring Morphological Complexity
Author(s):

Jean‐pierre Koenig

Karin Michelson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723769.003.0005

Every verb in Oneida includes one of fifty‐eight obligatory prefixes that mark up to two semantically animate arguments of the verb. These portmanteau‐like prefixes, each with five to ten phonologically conditioned allomorphs, occur in a single slot or rule block. This single slot in the verbal inflection of Oneida, occupied by so many affixes (or realizational rules), 326 in total, constitutes a kind of paradigmatic complexity that we suggest affords a unique perspective on morphological complexity. This chapter approaches the question of what makes the Oneida system of pronominal prefixes so complex by considering the number of realizational rules, the size of the semantic feature space, and the kinds of rules needed (e.g. underspecified rules versus rules of referral). It also addresses parsing problems including ‘imposters’ and choices faced by speakers.

Keywords:   morphological complexity, Oneida, Iroquoian, allomorphy, argument marking, verbal inflection

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