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I discuss the general implications of the rule-combining approach to morphotactics developed in the course of the foregoing chapters. I summarize the numerous superficially problematic phenomena that the rule-combining approach resolves and I relate these phenomena to the variety of ways in which rule combinations may deviate from the canonical characteristics of a language’s morphotactics. Finally, I synopsize the set of formal definitions on which the rule-combining approach is based.
Languages often present cases in which two rules together express content some of which cannot be attributed to either rule individually. The inflection of regular verbs in Breton presents several examples of this sort; holistic rule combinations are a way of modeling this phenomenon. Some instances of holistic combination have an emergent character; these are cases in which all of the forms realized by the composite of two rules happen to possess a property P that neither rule realizes on its own. In such cases, the composite is open to reanalysis as a holistic combination realizing P. Limbu verb morphology provides an example of this sort. A particularly compelling case for the postulation of holistic combinations arises in systems in which the same two rules express different holistic content in different contexts; Old English verb inflection is a system of this sort.
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