Chapter 13: Polyfunctionality


In Chapter 13 (‘Polyfunctionality’), I discuss a final phenomenon in which a difference of content between two paradigm cells coincides with a similarity in form.  This is the phenomenon of polyfunctionality, the systematic use of the same morphology for different purposes.  Instances of polyfunctionality vary widely in their characteristics.  In some cases, the same morphology has more than one use in the inflection of the same class of lexemes.  In other instances, the same morphology expresses one kind of content in the inflection of one category of lexemes and a distinct kind of content in the inflection of a distinct category of lexemes.  Examples of these sorts show that languages often put the same morphology to more than one use in expressing the inventory of grammatical contrasts relevant to syntax; that is, content cells that are different may nevertheless have form correspondents and realized cells that are alike.