There is no Stem: the Distribution of Verbal Allomorphs, a Distributed Morphology Analysis

Document Type : Research Paper

Author

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Tehran, Iran

Abstract

It is widely accepted by traditional grammarians and linguists that Persian verbal roots fall into two forms depending on their tense feature: present stem and past stem. In contrast to this traditional view, the present study considers an alternative notion of allomorphy, indicating that a few verbs use a basic form, called “morph”, in all morphosyntactic contexts while some other roots allow for having two or more allomorphs. Within the framework of Distributed Morphology, especially on the basis of underspecification condition, I will review the empirical evidence adduced in favor of the hypothesis that the tense feature has no role in producing and selecting the so-called present and past stems. In this approach, the systematic distribution of verbal allomorphs like /suz/ and /sux/ (derived from “ÖSUZ” = burn) is constrained by some other formal features, such as adjacency to the morphophoneme {D}, absorbing the causative suffix (“-ān” or its free variation “-un”) or appearing in the boundary of a word. Finally, to avoid terminological and empirical confusion, I will suggest that we should avoid the use of the term “stem” altogether and speak of root, morph and allomorphs only. It should be added that the different variations in phonetic shape of lexical roots are divided into two classes: the first one follows from the phonological rules and the second one is affected by the morphophonological (or readjustment) rules. Phonological changes are predictable and produce automatic alternations, but unpredictable morphophonological changes lead to non-automatic alternations. Following the general trend of DM, I restrict the term “allomorphy” to those cases in which the variation in phonetic shape of a morpheme does not follow from the automatic phonological rules of the language. This analysis raises the theoretical question of whether language-specific readjustment rules (i.e. the alteration of root or affix phonology) are needed for morphological theory. Rejecting readjustment rules, I show that allomorphs of verbal roots are independently stored in Vocabulary.

Keywords


Alexiadou, A., 2016. Building words. In: D. Siddiqi and H. Harley (Eds). Morphological Metatheory (223-236). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Anushe, M. 2015. Aspect and Tense Projections in the Complex Agentive Adjectives: A Distributed Morphology Approach. Language Related Research, Volume 6, issue 5 (26). P. 49-72. [In Persian].
ـــــــــــــــــــــــ. 2017. The Position of NegP and Licensing N-words in Persian: A Distributed Morphology Approach. Language Research. Volume 8, issue 1. P. 1-20. [In Persian].
ـــــــــــــــــــــ. 2018. “A Revision of Persian Past Tense Inflection a Distributed Morphology Approach”, Language Related Research, volume 9, issue 1. P. 57-80. [In Persian].
Anvari, H. & H.A. Givi (1988). Persian Grammar 1. Tehran: Fatemi [In Persian].
Blevins, J.P., 2016. Word and Paradigm Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bobaljik, J., 2011. Distributed Morphology. Ms, University of Connecticut.
Booij, G. 2007. The Grammar of Words: An Introduction to Linguistic Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chomsky, N. 1995. The Minimalist program. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Darzi, A., & Anoushe, M. 2010. Main verb movement in Farsi. Zabanpazhuhi, volume 2, issue 3. P. 21-55. [In Persian].
Deal. A.R. and Wolf, M. 2017. Outward-sensitive Phonologically-Conditioned Allomorphy. In: V. Gribanova and S.S. Shih (Eds). The morphosyntax-phonology connection: locality and directionality at the interface (29-60). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Embick, D. 2015. The Morpheme. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Embick, D. and Halle, M. 2005. On the Status of Stems in Morphological Theory. In: T. Geerts, I. Ginneken and H. Jacobs (Eds). Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2003 (37-62). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Embick, D. and Noyer, R. 2001. Movement Operations after Syntax. Linguistic Inquiry, 32 (4): 555–595.
Embick, D. and Noyer, R. 2007. Distributed Morphology and the syntax/morphology interface. In: G. Ramchand and C. Reiss (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces (289–324). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eslami, M. 2019. Morphological Structure of Persian Verb in Perfect Tenses. Researchers in Linguistics. Volume 11, Issue 1, P 1-14 [In Persian].
Farshidvard, Kh. 2003. Today’s Detailed Grammar, based on new linguistics. Tehran: Sokhan [In Persian].
Gholamhoseinzadeh G, Jabr M, Dorri N, Abbasi Z. 2018. Verb Construction in Persian Language. Language Related Research, Volume 15, issue 59. P 63-86. [In Persian].
Halle, M. 1997. Distributed Morphology: Impoverishment and fission. In: B. Bruening, Y. Kang and M. McGinnis(Eds). PF: Papers at the Interface (MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 30), (425–449). Cambridge, MA: MITWPL.
Halle, M. and Marantz, A. 1993. Distributed Morphology and the pieces of inflection. In: K. Hale and S.J. Keyser (Eds). The View from Building 20. Essays in Linguistics in Honour of Sylvain Bromberger (111–176). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Halle, M. and Marantz, A. 1994. Some key features of Distributed Morphology. In: A. Carnie and H. Harley(Eds). Papers on Phonology and Morphology (MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 21), 275–288. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL.
Haugen, J.D. 2008. Morphology at the Interface. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Haugen, J.D. 2016. Readjustment: Rejected? In: D. Siddiqi and H. Harley (Eds). Morphological Metatheory (303-342). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Inkelas, Sh. 2016. The Role of Morphology in Generative Phonology, Autosegmental Phonology, and Prosodic Morphology. In: A. Hippisley and G. Stump (Eds). The Cambridge Handbook of Morphology (513-549). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kord-e ZafaranluKambuziya A, Tajabadi F, Assi M, Aghagolzadeh F. 2015. Morpho-phonemic Analysis of Past Stem in Persian. Language Related Research, Volume 6, issue 4. P 201-228.
Kramer, R. 2016. Syncretism in paradigm function morphology and distributed morphology. In: D. Siddiqi and H. Harley (Eds). Morphological Metatheory (95-120). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
McGinnis-Archibald, M. 2016. Distributed Morphology. In: A. Hippisley and G. Stump (Eds). The Cambridge Handbook of Morphology (390-423). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Natel-Khanlari, P. 1972. Persian Grammar [1st ed]. Tehran: Bonyade-e Farhang-e Iran.
Odden, D. 2013. Introducing Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pfau, R. 2009. Grammar as Processor, A Distributed Morphology Account of Spontaneous Speech. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Plag, I. 2003. Word-Formation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shih, S.S. 2017. Phonological Inluences in Syntactic Alternations. In: V. Gribanova and S.S. Shih (Eds). The morphosyntax-phonology connection: locality and directionality at the interface (223-252). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Siddiqi, D. 2009. Syntax within the Word. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Siddiqi, D. 2014. The Morphology-Syntax Interface. In: A. Carnie, Y. Sato, and D. Siddiqi (Eds). The Routledge Handbook of Syntax (345-364). NY: Routledge
Stewart, Th. and Stump, G. 2007. Paradigm Function Morphology and the Morphology–Syntax interface. In: G. Ramchand and C. Reiss (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces (383–421). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tabatabayi, A. 2016. A Descriptive Grammar of Persian. Tehran: Farhang-e Moaser [In Persian].
Taleghani, A.H. 2008. Modality, Aspect and Negation in Persian. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.
Xu, Zh. 2016. The Role of Morphology in Optimality Theory. In: A. Hippisley and G. Stump (Eds). The Cambridge Handbook of Morphology (550-587). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Volume 11, Issue 2
February 2021
Pages 25-48
  • Receive Date: 25 December 2019
  • Revise Date: 10 September 2020
  • Accept Date: 31 May 2020
  • First Publish Date: 05 October 2020