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Exploring Nanosyntax$
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Lena Baunaz, Liliane Haegeman, Karen De Clercq, and Eric Lander

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190876746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190876746.001.0001

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Spanning versus Constituent Lexicalization

Spanning versus Constituent Lexicalization

The Case of Portmanteau Prefixes

(p.88) Chapter 3 Spanning versus Constituent Lexicalization
Exploring Nanosyntax

Knut Tarald Taraldsen

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to evaluate the relative merits of two competing views of how lexical insertion should work in a nanosyntactic framework. One view holds that a sequence of heads meeting certain conditions, a “span,” can be replaced by a single morpheme even when those heads do not form a constituent in the input tree. The other view allows lexical insertion only to target constituents. The article focuses on certain properties of portmanteau prefixes identified by investigating the nominal class prefixes in Bantu languages. Accounting for portmanteau prefixes looks like a serious challenge to the theory restricting lexical insertion to constituents. They can be accommodated by positing only a richer syntactic structure than is usual. However, various empirical arguments show that the richer syntactic structure is in fact needed in an analysis of the nominal class prefixes in Bantu and that this conclusion extends to class prefixes in other languages.

Keywords:   constituent lexicalization, spanning, nominal class prefixes, classifiers, Bantu

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