Network Core Mechanisms of Exponence

Blevins, James P. (1995)


(= Surrey 13) Analysis of English verbal and German pronominal inflection in the framework of HPSG. An inflection paradigm consists of marked forms which are defined against the background of unmarked forms (e.g. marked walks defined against unmarked walk). While the identification of marked forms is unproblematic (walks = 3sg present), unmarked forms lend themselves to different analyses: (a) negative feature specification; e.g. walk is not = 3sg; (b) disjunctive feature specification; e.g. walk = 1sg or 2sg or 1pl; (c) morphological blocking; e.g. walk is completely unspecified, whereby the rules stipulate that an unspecified form cannot be used when a semantically more specific alternative exists; thus walk cannot be used for 3sg (cf. Andrews 1990). (d) paradigmatic blocking; similar to morphological blocking, but specificity is gauged in terms of those features instantiated within a given inflectional paradigm. - The last approach is favored. Syncretism which results from underspecification of features is purely ‘artefactual’; i.e. it is purely a representational notion, resulting from an overarticulated description. Syncretism that cannot be accounted for in this way represents accidental homophony.

authorBlevins, James P.
titleSyncretism and paradigmatic opposition
journalLinguistics and Philosophy


    author = {Blevins, James P.},
    year = {1995},
    title = {Syncretism and paradigmatic opposition},
    journal = {Linguistics and Philosophy},
    volume = {18},
    pages = {113-152},
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