Dissecting morphological theory 2: Diminutivization in root-, stem- and word-based morphology

Workshop to be held in conjunction with the 46th Austrian Linguistics Conference / 46. Österreichische Linguistik-Tagung (ÖLT) in Vienna on 11-12 December 2021

Call for papers

Abstract submission deadline: 20 July 2021 31 July 2021

Organizers: Stela Manova, Katharina Korecky-Kröll

This workshop scrutinizes and compares theoretical assumptions in morphology. Diminutivization serves as a testing ground. The goal is to bring together scholars working within different theoretical frameworks as well as computational and experimental morphologists.

Diminutive morphology presents a number of theoretical challenges. Just a few issues illustrated primarily with organizers’ research:

  • Diminutive affixes if attached to nouns denoting persons do not derive diminutives (proper), e.g. Russian mamočka ‘mother-DIM, mommy’ does not mean ‘small mother’; thus, some diminutive forms appear closely related to hypocoristics (Dressler & Merlini Barbaresi 1994; Korecky-Kröll & Dressler 2007; Simonović & Arsenijević 2015; Manova et al. 2017).

  • Diminutive affixes can change fundamental properties of nouns such as gender and countability (Manova & Winternitz 2011; Arsenijević 2016); in the verbal domain, diminutive affixes can change the conjugation class and/or valency of the base (Oltra-Massuet & Castroviejo 2014).

  • Unlike diminutive nouns, not all diminutive verbs are derived from verbs (Grestenberger & Kallulli 2019); and “small is many in the event domain” (Tovena 2011).

  • Diminutive affixes can be repeated; all diminutivizers express the same semantics but they do not combine with each other freely (Manova & Winternitz 2011; Merlini Barbaresi 2012).

To make theoretical assumptions comparable, we differentiate between composition and decomposition and recognize three types of composition exemplified with the organizations of three theories of morphology: Distributed Morphology (DM), Paradigm Function Morphology (PFM) and Natural Morphology (NM) :

  1. Root-based: composition in DM (Halle & Marantz 1998, Bobaljik 2017) is of this type, i.e. in a syntax-oriented model such as DM, a derivation takes place step-by-step starting from the root, e.g. from √read. In DM, roots have a special status and are categoriless; the affix attached to the root provides the syntactic category, i.e. affixes are heads. However, recent DM studies (De Belder 2011; Lowenstamm 2015; Creemers et al. 2018) have claimed that some affixes are roots, i.e. categoriless too (on the categorization of diminutive suffixes, Grestenberger & Kallulli 2019).

  2. Stem-based: PFM (Stump 2001) links words in slots of inflectional paradigms but derives those words stem-based. Stump (2016) speaks of content paradigm, form paradigm and realized paradigm; the composition of a word form takes place in the form paradigm and starts from a stem (e.g. read; Latin hortā-, from hortor ‘encourage’) to which then pieces of word structure without semantics (PFM is a-morphous) are attached by rules of exponence. The prototypical stem has the shape of [root + morpheme]. Similar to roots, stems may be categoriless, i.e. morphomes (Aronoff 1994). Morphomes are not associated with specific semantics, cannot be derived syntactically and are evidence for the existence of morphology by itself, i.e. against DM where morphology is distributed between syntax and phonology. Nevertheless, recent DM studies seem to use morphomes: combinations of categoriless roots and categoriless affixes (mentioned in 1) are morphomic stems in a stem-based analysis.

  3. Word-based: NM (Dressler et al. 1987) is morphology by itself, functionalist and cognitively oriented, and allows for root-, stem- and word-based composition. Since words have a primary role in discourse, word-based morphology is seen as the most natural, root-based morphology being the least natural, i.e. if a root or a stem coincides with a word (e.g. read), the base is classified as a word.

With respect to decomposition, all three theories agree that people communicate with words and that the latter have internal structure, i.e. decomposition seems exclusively word-based. Recent DM-related neurolinguistic research has provided experimental evidence for this assumption: speakers decompose the (visual) stimulus (e.g. teacher) into morphemes, look these up in the mental lexicon, and recombine them (Fruchter et al. 2013; Fruchter & Marantz 2015). It has to be mentioned herein that PFM and NM have not explicitly addressed decomposition. Additionally, in PFM composition is exclusively related to form (a-morphous production of forms); in NM composition involves meaning and form (NM morphemes relate meaning and form); and in DM composition refers to meaning (DM morphemes are abstract and correspond to syntactic terminal nodes), while decomposition involves form and meaning (visual stimuli such as teacher are well-formed words and thus have meaning). On the relation of meaning and form in morphology, see Manova et al. (2020).

Finally, regarding the organization of morphology, i.e. the derivation-inflection divide:

  • in DM, there is no principal difference between derivational and inflectional affixes, i.e. both types of affixes can serve as heads; note, however, that the recent claim that some affixes are roots (references in 1) holds only for derivational affixes;

  • PFM has been explicitly defined as a theory of inflectional morphology (Stump 2001) but paradigms have been postulated for derivational morphology as well (Bonami & Strnadová 2019 and references therein);

  • in NM derivation and inflection are the two poles of a continuum and there are thus prototypical and non-prototypical derivation and inflection (Dressler 1989), diminutivization of nouns being an example of non-prototypical derivation, i.e. between derivation and inflection but on the derivational side (Dressler & Korecky-Kröll 2015).

We invite papers (20 min presentation + 10 min discussion) that, based on diminutives, discuss the (dis)advantages of a single theoretical framework or different theories comparatively. Papers that profit from a mix of theories are also welcome. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Diminutivization of major word classes

  • Diminutivization and non-major word classes

  • Diminutivization and the derivation-inflection divide

  • Gender, animacy, countability and diminutivization of nouns

  • Aspect, pluractionality and diminutivization of verbs

  • Diminutives versus hypocoristics

  • Diminutivization of diminutives

  • Acquisition of diminutive morphology

  • Diachrony of diminutive morphology

  • Diminutive morphology in language contact

  • Sociolinguistic variation of diminutive morphology

  • Experimental and computational evidence versus theoretical assumptions

Anonymous abstracts of max. 300 words (excluding references) in either English or German should be submitted via the online form on the following page: https://oelt2021.univie.ac.at/workshops-abstracts/. In the field “Einreichung für den Workshop“, please put the title of the workshop “Dissecting morphological theory 2: Diminutivization in root-, stem- and word-based morphology”. Abstract submission demo here.

The abstract submission deadline is 20 July 2021 31 July 2021

Notifications of acceptance will be sent at the beginning of September 2021.

We plan the workshop as an on-site event (if the pandemic situation allows, otherwise the workshop will be held online).

Selected references

Aronoff, Mark (1994). Morphology by Itself. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press.Arsenijević, Boban (2016). Gender, like classifiers, marks uniform atomicity: Evidence from Serbo-Croatian. CLS (Chicago Linguistic Society) 52, University of Chicago, 21-23. 4. 2016.Belder, Marijke De (2011). Roots and affixes, eliminating lexical categories from syntax. PhD diss., Utrecht University.Bobaljik, Jonathan (2017). Distributed Morphology. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Retrieved 17 Jun. 2020, from https://oxfordre.com/linguistics/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.001.0001/acrefore-9780199384655-e-131.Bonami, Olivier & Jana Strnadová (2019). Paradigm structure and predictability in derivationalmorphology. Morphology 29(2): 167–197.Creemers, Ava., Jan Don & Paula Fenger (2018). Some affixes are roots, others are heads. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 36: 45–84. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-017-9372-1Dressler, Wolfgang U. (1989). Prototypical differences between inflection and derivation. Zeitschrift für Phonetik, Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikationsforschung 42: 3-10.Dressler,Wolfgang U., Willi Mayerthaler, Oswald Panagl & Wolfgang U. Wurzel (1987). Leitmotifs in Natural Morphology. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Dressler, Wolfgang U. & Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi (1994). Morphopragmatics: diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German, and other languages. Berlin: de Gruyter.Dressler, Wolfgang U. & Katharina Korecky-Kröll (2015). Evaluative morphology and language acquisition. In Nicola Grandi & Livia Körtvélyessy (eds.). Edinburgh Handbook of Evaluative Morphology, 134-141. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Fruchter, Joseph & Alec Marantz (2015). Decomposition, lookup, and recombination: MEG evidence for the Full Decomposition model of complex visual word recognition. Brain and Language 143: 81–96.Fruchter, Joseph, Linnaea Stockall & Alec Marantz (2013). MEG masked priming evidence for form-based decomposition of irregular verbs. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 1–16.Grestenberger, Laura & Dalina Kallulli (2019). The largesse of diminutives: suppressing the projection of roots. In M. Baird & J. Pesetsky (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 49, Cornell University, Oct. 5-7, 2018, vol. 2, 61–74. Amherst: GLSA. Available at: https://lauragrestenberger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/grestenberger_kallulli_diminutives.pdf Halle, Morris & Alec Marantz (1993). Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection. In Kenneth Hale & Samuel Jay Keyser (eds.), The view from building 20, 111–176. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Korecky-Kröll, Katharina & Wolfgang U. Dressler (2007). Diminutives and hypocoristics in Austrian German (AG). In Ineta Savickienė & Wolfgang U. Dressler. eds. The acquisition of diminutives. A cross-linguistic perspective, 207-230. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Lowenstamm, Jean (2015). Derivational affixes as roots: Phasal spell-out meets English stress shift. In Artemis Alexiadou, Hagit Borer & Florian Schäfer (eds.) The syntax of roots and the roots of syntax, 230–259. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Manova, Stela & Kimberley Winternitz (2011). Suffix order in double and multiple diminutives: with data from Polish and Bulgarian. Studies in Polish Linguistics 6: 115-138. URL: http://www.ejournals.eu/SPL/2011/SPL-vol-6-2011/art/1169/ Manova, Stela, Dušan Ptáček & Renáta Gregová (2017). Second-grade diminutives in Czech and Slovak: A contrastive study with data from corpora. In Luka Repanšek & Matej Šekli (eds.). 12. letno srečanje Združenja za slovansko jezikoslovje / 12th Slavic Linguistics Society Annual Meeting / XII ежегодная конференция Общества славянского языкознания. Ljubljana, Slovenia, Sept. 21-24. Založba ZRC, Inštitut za slovenski jezik Frana Ramovša, pp. 121-122. ISBN 978-961-05-0027-8.Manova, Stela, Harald Hammarström, Itamar Kastner & Yining Nie (2020). What is in a morpheme? Theoretical, experimental and computational approaches to the relation of meaning and form in morphology. Word Structure 13(1): 1-21.Merlini Barbaresi, Lavinia (2012). Combinatorial patterns among Italian evaluative affixes. SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics 9(1): 2-14. URL: http://www.skase.sk/Volumes/JTL20/pdf_doc/1.pdf Oltra-Massuet, Isabel & Elena Castroviejo (2014). A syntactic approach to the morpho-semantic variation of -ear. Lingua 151: 120-41.Simonović, Marko & Boban Arsenijević (2015). Just small or small and related: On two kinds of diminutives in Serbo-Croatian. Presented at TIN-dag, 7 February 2015, Utrecht: https://www.academia.edu/10675378/Just_small_or_small_and_related_On_two_kinds_of_diminutives_in_Serbo-CroatianStump, Gregory T. (2001). Inflectional morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Stump, Gregory T. (2016) Inflectional paradigms: content and form at the syntax-morphology interface. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Tovena, Lucia M.. (2011). When Small Is Many in the Event Domain. Lexis [Online] 6: 41-58, URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lexis/414; DOI: 10.4000/lexis.414.