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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.
I discuss my assumptions about individual morphological rules, and then explain the ways in which rules combine. Rule composition, the default mode of rule combination, models many canonical patterns, but also models certain deviations from the canonical morphotactic criteria. Holistic rule combination, a second mode of combination, accounts for deviations from the compositional content criterion, in which a rule combination realizes more than the sum of the content that those rules realize individually. Rule aggregation, a third mode of combination, accounts for deviations from the stem operand criterion, in which a rule operates not on a stem, but on the affix introduced by the rule with which it combines. Counterpotentiation, a fourth mode of combination, accounts for deviations from the intermediate well-formedness criterion, in which the result of applying one rule is ill-formed unless its application is followed by that of another particular rule. I outline the elaboration of these ideas in the ensuing chapters.
The study of morphology is central to linguistics, and morphotactics – the general principles by which the parts of a word form are arranged – is essential to the study of morphology. Drawing on evidence from a range of languages, this is a comprehensive and up-to-date account of the principles of morphotactic analysis. Stump proposes that the arrangement of word forms' grammatically significant parts is an expression of the ways in which a language's morphological rules combine with one another to form more specific rules. This rule-combining approach to morphotactics has important implications for the synchronic analysis of both inflectional and derivational morphology, and it provides a solid conceptual platform for understanding both the processing of morphologically complex words and the paths of morphological change. Laying the groundwork for future research on morphotactic analysis, this is essential reading for researchers and graduate students in linguistics, and anyone interested in understanding language structure.
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