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On the relation between morphology and syntax.

  • Gillian Ramchand
  • Charles Reiss
Publiceringsår: 2007
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 209-238
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces
Dokumenttyp: Del av eller Kapitel i bok
Förlag: Oxford University Press


According to the traditional view, the relation between morphology and syntax is the following: while morphology builds up word forms—typically by combining roots with other roots and with affixes, but also by applying other operations to them, syntax takes fully inflected words as input and combines them into phrases and sentences. The division of labour between morphology and syntax is thus perfect: morphology only operates below the word level whereas syntax only operates above the word level. Moreover, these two components of grammar are ordered in strict sequence, such that the syntax takes over after the morphology has done its work.

This model has formed, implicitly or explicitly, the basis of so many descriptive grammatical works that there is no point in mentioning any one of them here. Under the name of lexicalism it has also made its way into more recent theorizing. On the other side of the controversy, the syntactic view on word formation has been defended.

In this chapter, I willl however claim that the discussion of whether complex words are formed in the syntax or prior to syntax is futile, because words as such are not formed in the grammar at all. They are not grammatical entities. Below the phrase level, syntax operates on morphemes and gives certain arrangements of these morphemes as output. Some of the resulting morpheme sequences are called words, but crucially, these sequences do not as a class correspond to one particular syntactic representation. Rather, words are characterized by their distributional properties, properties that are compatible with a number of syntactic configurations.


  • Languages and Literature
  • lexicalism
  • syntactic word formation
  • words


  • GRIMM-lup-obsolete
  • ISBN: 978-0-19-924745-5

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