Affix Order and Interpretation at Both Interfaces

Much work in morphology has focused on affix order, because of the fact that it presents interesting interactions with both semantics and morphophonology. On the semantic side, the order of affixes often transparently reflects meaning, suggesting that compositionality holds not only at the level of self-evidently syntactic objects like phrases and sentences, but also within words. Since Baker (1985), this apparent parity between morphology and syntax has been dubbed the Mirror Principle. Many have taken the Mirror Principle to support the idea that syntax is responsible for constructing all complex structures, above and below the word level (syntactic hierarchical structure all the way down, as Halle and Marantz 1994 put it).

It is well-known, however, that many languages exhibit affix orders which seem to violate the Mirror Principle. An additional (and somewhat less well-known) issue is the fact that such Mirror-Principle-violating affix orders sometimes give rise to surprising non-local morphophonological effects (Hyman 2003; Kiparsky 2011; Skinner 2009). If we wish to maintain a theory that assumes syntactic hierarchical structure all the way down, then these facts pose interesting puzzles both for the theory of the syntax- semantics interface and for the theory of the syntax-morphophonology interface.

This course will survey work on the Mirror Principle and the empirical challenges to it, as well as giving an overview of existing approaches to these challenges within broadly syntactic approaches to morphology. The final two sessions will take the form of two case studies of Mirror Principle violations involving causative and applicative morphemes, the first looking at the Quechua family, the second looking at the Bantu family. While causatives and applicatives work somewhat differently in the two families, a common lesson can be drawn from them, one that might be generalized when investigating any apparent problem for the Mirror Principle: the appearance of a Mirror Principle violation dissolves once the syntactic and semantic contributions of the affixes involved is properly understood.

Tentative Course Schedule
12 June 2017, 14.30-16.00 An Introduction to the Mirror Principle and its Exceptions
13 June 2017, 14.30-16.00 Approaches to Mirror Principle Violations
14 June 2017, 14.30-16.00 Mirror Principle Violations and Morphophonological Action-

15 June 2017, 14.30-16.00 Causative and Applicative Interactions Part I: Quechua

16 June 2017, 14.30-16.00 Causative and Applicative Interactions Part II: Bantu

Baker, Mark. (1985) The Mirror Principle and Morphosyntactic Explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16.3:373-415.
Halle, Morris & Alec Marantz. (1994) Some key features of Distributed Morphology. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 21:275-288.
Hyman, Larry M. (2003) Suffix ordering in Bantu: a morphocentric approach. Yearbook of Morphology 2002, pp.245‐281.
Kiparsky, Paul (2011) Morpheme Order, Constituency and Scope. Talk given at the University of Oxford, June 27, 2011.
Skinner, Tobin (2009) Investigations of Downward Movement. PhD Thesis: McGill.

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