Compounding and variational morphology: the analysis of inflection in Spanish compounds
Keywords:compounding, inflection, head, level ordering hypothesis, morphology-syntax interface
This paper analyzes the morphological variation related to gender and number in Spanish compounding such as plural noun in [V+N]ncompounds (ellavaplatos, not el lavaplato; el cazamariposas, not *el cazamariposa), the gender and number asymmetries between the actual compound and its parts (cabezafem. + cuadradafem. à el cabeza cuadradamasc., relacionesfem. pl. + públicasfem. pl. à el relaciones públicasmasc. sing.), the presence of inflectional markers inside compounds (sord-o-mudafem, not *sord-a-mudafem.), and the variation that takes place in many plural compounds (casas cuartel or casas cuarteles ‘house quarter’, coches cama or coches camas ‘car and bed’). Basing ourselves on the classic model of level ordering with an admixture of Booij's distinction between inherent and contextual inflection, this piece of research proves that these cases of morphological variation can be approached as a morphological component, accessible to syntax. This model also relativizes the importance of the head in compounding and highlights the value of morphology, lexis and syntax interfaces.
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