Morphosyntactic Paradoxa in Fox

Berthold Crysmann

In: Constraints and Resources in Natural Language Syntax and Semantics. Studies in Constraint-Based Lexicalism CSLI Publications 1999.


In this paper, I shall discuss an apparent paradox in the morphology and syntax of Fox (Mesquakie) complex verbs. In Fox, verbs can be modified by one or more of a variety of preverbs including modals, aspectuals, manner adverbials, numerals, quantifiers, as well as preverbs which increase the valence of the main verb (Dahlstrom, 1997a). While preverb and verb can be separated by words, phrases, or even embedded sentences, suggesting a status as syntactically independent words, in ection (cf. Dahlstrom, 1997a) and derivation (cf. Ackerman and LeSourd, 1994) appear to treat preverb-verb complexes as a single morphological unit. Following the basic assumptions of lexicalist syntax, I claim that Fox preverb-verb combinations are indeed morphologically derived and that inflectional affixes are attached to complex morphological objects in the word-formation component already. In order to account for the syntactic effects, I propose an analysis in Linearisation HPSG (Reape, 1994, Kathol, 1995), which builds on the assumption that Fox preverb-verb complexes introduce more than one domain object into syntax (cf. Kathol, 1996 for German, Crysmann, 1997 for European Portuguese). Further morphological material will then be distributed across preverb and verb by imposing partial morphological (order) constraints on PHON-values.

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