LING 21000 Introduction to Morphology

Why is the plural of child in English children and not *childs? Why is undoable ambiguous ((i) ‘unable to be done’, (ii) ‘able to be undone’), while unkillable isn’t (only ‘unable to be killed’)? Unhappier is intuitively composed of several, smaller pieces: un-, happy, and -er; but what about unkempt? These questions are the purview of MORPHOLOGY, the field of linguistics devoted to studying the internal structure of words and how they are formed. Consequently, in this course we will investigate the nature of morphemes, in all their cross-linguistic shapes and guises. To this end, we will become familiar with a particular theoretical framework in which to do morphological analysis. This framework is Distributed Morphology (DM), and it pursues the hypothesis that words are built in the same system that builds syntactic phrases. Key concepts which will frame our discussion include inflection, syncretism, allomorphy, and blocking.