Creemers, Don, & Fenger (2016) – Some affixes are roots, others are heads

Some affixes are roots, others are heads
Ava CreemersJan DonPaula Fenger
December 2016
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A recent debate in the morphological literature concerns the status of derivational affixes. While some linguists (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003) consider derivational affixes a type of functional morpheme that realizes a categorial head, others (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011) argue that derivational affixes are roots. Our proposal, which finds its empirical basis in a study of Dutch derivational affixes, takes a middle position. We argue that there are two types of derivational affixes: some derivational affixes are roots (i.e. lexical morphemes) while others are categorial heads (i.e. functional morphemes). Affixes that are roots show ‘flexible’ categorial behavior, are subject to ‘lexical’ phonological rules, and may trigger idiosyncratic meanings. Affixes that realize categorial heads, on the other hand, are categorially rigid, do not trigger ‘lexical’ phonological rules nor allow for idiosyncrasies in their interpretation.

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Reference: lingbuzz/003258
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keywords: derivational affixes, distributed morphology, stress-behaviour, categorial flexibility, phasal spell-out, morphology, phonology