Chapter 7: A conception of the relation of content to form in inflectional paradigms


 If all inflectional paradigms conformed to the canonical ideal described in Chapter 2, there would be no reason to attribute any theoretical significance to them, since each of a lexeme’s word forms could be seen as arising through a simple “spelling out” of its associated morphosyntactic properties.  But inflectional paradigms rarely conform to the canonical ideal; on the contrary, there are numerous ways in which content and form may be misaligned in a lexeme’s inflectional realization; such misalignments invariably involve patterns defined not over individual word forms but over inflectional paradigms.  The second part of the book comprises detailed examinations of the different kinds of misalignment observed in the world’s languages and the development of theory of inflectional morphology that is compatible with the full range of observed misalignments.

As a preliminary to this presentation, Chapter 7 (‘A conception of the relation of content to form in inflectional paradigms’) distinguishes three ways of conceiving of inflectional paradigms (Stump 2002, 2006; Stewart & Stump 2007).  A lexeme L’s content paradigm enumerates the morphosyntactic property sets with which L may be associated in syntax and semantics.  The cells in this paradigm (“content cells”) are therefore pairings of the lexeme L with each relevant morphosyntactic property set σ: 〈L, σ〉.  A stem X’s form paradigm specifies the range of property sets that may be realized through the inflection of X.  The cells in this paradigm (“form cells”) are therefore pairings of the stem X with each relevant property set τ:  〈X, τ〉.  The realized paradigm of a stem X is the smallest set R such that for each pairing 〈X, τ〉 in X’s form paradigm, 〈w, τ〉 belongs to R if and only if w realizes X and τ.  In general, each content cell is realized by being linked to a form cell whose realization it shares; this form cell is the content cell’s form correspondent.  In the canonical case, a lexeme L has a single stem X such that each content cell 〈L, σ〉 in L’s content paradigm has 〈X, σ〉 as its form correspondent, so that 〈L, σ〉 and 〈X, σ〉 share a realization 〈w, σ〉.  In noncanonical cases, however, the correspondence between content cells and form cells is more complex; each such case involves one or another kind of mismatch between content and form.

Mismatches can be observed at different levels of granularity.  Some can be observed within a single paradigm (Chapters 8–11).   Others can only be seen by comparing distinct paradigms belonging to the same category (Chapter 12) or to different categories (Chapter 13).