Network Core Mechanisms of Exponence

Hewson, John (1989)


(= Surrey 47) The term "synapsis" is introduced to refer to the phenomenon of (semantically) motivated syncretism, which is identifiable by three criteria: (a) analogical reshaping occurs (i.e. the formal identity cannot be attributed solely to sound change); (b) there are shared semantic features; (c) the two elements are demonstrably distinct (i.e. morphosyntactically). - This is illustrated by the formal identity of a marked animate singular form and inanimate plurals in: (a) Algonkian (Menomoni, Cree and Ojibwa), where the marked obviative singular (an adnominal form which occurs only with animates) is identical to the inanimate plural; (b) Indo-European languages, where the marked feminine singular is identical to the neuter plural. - The shared semantic notion is said to be "transcendence", i.e. when something "lies outside or transcends an already established unity". Other examples from French (identity of article and pronominal forms) and English (various instantiations of the -s affix).

authorHewson, John
titleMotivated Syncretism
journalJournal of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association


    author = {Hewson, John},
    year = {1989},
    title = {Motivated Syncretism},
    journal = {Journal of the Atlantic Provinces Linguistic Association},
    volume = {11},
    pages = {39-56},
last changed: