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The Complexities of Morphology$
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Peter Arkadiev and Francesco Gardani

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198861287

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198861287.001.0001

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Demorphologization and deepening complexity in Murrinhpatha

Demorphologization and deepening complexity in Murrinhpatha

(p.52) 3 Demorphologization and deepening complexity in Murrinhpatha
The Complexities of Morphology

John Mansfield

Rachel Nordlinger

Oxford University Press

Inflectional allomorphy is a prototypical form of morphological complexity, introducing unpredictability into the mapping of form to meaning. In this chapter, we examine a system of verb inflection allomorphy in the Murrinhpatha language of northern Australia, which shows a high level of complexity as measured by unpredictability of analogical relations in inflectional exponence. We argue that in this case the unpredictability is associated with incremental demorphologization, the process whereby morphology gradually dissolves into unanalysable lexical form. We present observations of analogical change in Murrinhpatha, comparing contemporary fieldwork documentation with data from forty years earlier, showing that a long-term process of demorphologization is still underway in recent generations, resulting in increasing complexity of the system.

Keywords:   demorphologization, morphological complexity, inflectional paradigms, language change, Australian languages

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