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Auteur: Francesco GARDANI

Inflectional classes - a 2000-year timeline of evolution

Abstract/Résumé: Due to its central role for morphological theory, productivity has been the object of a wealth of discussions and analyses conducted from the most different theoretical and empirical angles (for a survey, see Bauer 2005). Still, a fundamental dimension of productivity has not been adequately enlightened in morphological research – viz. its role in the diachronic evolution of inflection. Based on a book-length work on the evolution of the noun inflectional classes of Latin and Old Italian covering a time of approximately 2,000 years (Gardani 2013), this paper offers an analysis of long-term morphological change in terms of the role that productivity plays in the dynamics of emergence, growth, decline, and loss of inflectional classes. On a wider perspective, the paper follows the line of research on the evolution of morphology recently propelled forwards by Carstairs-McCarthy (2010). More specifically, the investigation is couched in the functionalist framework of Natural Morphology (Dressler 2003), from which also the methodological approach is derived. Class productivity is measured, on historical synchronic cuts, on the basis of the investigation of loanword integration, conversions, and class shift, with the data on the integration of loanwords being drawn from the contact languages Ancient Greek, Germanic, Arabic, Byzantine Greek, and Old French. The elaboration of the diachronic outline is then encompassed by connecting the single synchronic cuts. The paper shows that, in parallel with van Marle’s (1988: 148) results on derivation, also in inflection there exists a link between changes in productivity and the naturalness parameters of biuniqueness and morphosemantic transparency, relating, in particular, to the morphological realization of the features of gender and number: for example, a higher level of biuniqueness in the morphological realization of gender and number values determines an increase in productivity of extant classes and also leads to morphogenesis. References: Bauer, Laurie. 2005. Productivity: theories. In Pavol Štekauer & Rochelle Lieber (eds), Handbook of Word-Formation, 315–334. Dordrecht: Springer. Carstairs-McCarthy, Andrew. 2010. The evolution of morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dressler, Wolfgang U. 2003. Degrees of grammatical productivity in inflectional morphology. Italian Journal of Linguistics 15(1). 31–62. Gardani, Francesco. 2013. Dynamics of morphological productivity. The evolution of noun classes from Latin to Italian. Leiden/Boston: Brill. Marle, Jaap van. 1988. On the role of semantics in productivity change. In Geert Booij & Jaap van Marle (eds), Yearbook of Morphology 1988, 139–154. Dordrecht: Foris.