University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Conference "Continuity and Change in Grammar" > Why heteroclisis? Phonological change and morphomic continuity in Romanian

Why heteroclisis? Phonological change and morphomic continuity in Romanian

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The phenomenon of ‘heteroclisis’ (membership of some lexeme in more than one inflectional class) has recently begun to attract attention in morphological theory (see especially Stump in Language 2006). What has scarcely been explored at all is how heteroclisis originates historically. There are probably multiple answers to this question, but this paper identifies at least one of them by focusing particularly on dialects of south-western Romania, where a small number of originally third conjugation verbs have acquired first conjugation morphology, but only in parts of the paradigm. Two major factors are found to be at work: one is homonymy avoidance in inflectional desinences (of a kind invoked by Carstairs-McCarthy’s No Blur Principle), and specifically avoidance of inflectional homonymy brought about by sound change; the other is the role of ancient and pervasive ‘morphomic’ (autonomously morphological) structures in the Romanian (and generally in the Romance) verb, which reveal a striking capacity to block the intraparadignatic spread of conjugational innovations, giving rise to heteroclisis. Some other examples of morphomically motivated heteroclisis may also be adduced if time permits.

This talk is part of the Conference "Continuity and Change in Grammar" series.

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