The algebraic structure of morphosyntactic features
The most common way of separating homophony from syncretism — which is a basic challenge for any inflectional analysis: to distinguish between accidental and systematic form-identity — is attributing only the latter to a coherent feature combination instantiating a natural class. Features predetermine which form-identities can or cannot be analyzed as natural-class syncretism. Hence, they are crucial for the restrictiveness and predictions of morphological grammar. However, most current theoretical frameworks (e.g.] Anderson 1992, Corbett & Fraser 1993, Halle & Marantz 1993, Stump 2001) do not make explicit their assumptions regarding the formal status of features. They miss out on state-of-the-art formalisms to introduce feature notations like Formal Concept Analysis (FCA, going back to Wille 1982, Ganter & Wille 1999) which provides a formal model of conceptualization in general. In this paper, I will show how FCA provides an all-embracing terminology to reproduce, visualize, and compare feature systems from different morphological frameworks, enables more precise and consistent morphological analyses, and crucially serves to rule out excessively powerful notations where the feature combinatorics are decoupled from the distributional facts they represent.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).