Roots and lexicality in Distributed Morphology
Paolo Acquaviva
February 2008

This paper examines the nature of morphological roots in relation to their syntactic context. The evidence of doublets suggests that roots do not carry selectional features or class diacritics. Relying on the distinction between syntactic nodes and their exponents, I argue that the syntactic atoms corresponding to root nodes are associated with open-class exponents but not with a meaning that might select a syntactic context. "Lexical" meaning arises constructionally, and so do lexical features like gender or class, which however emerge at Vocabulary insertion and may display selectional properties. Content and exponence of roots are thus dissociated. This predicts the existence of root-like elements with mixed status, namely open-class exponents used as grammatical morphemes (like auxiliaries or classifiers), or category-free root extensions below the innermost category-assigning head (like de- in de-struction).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000654
(please use that when you cite this article)
keywords: morphology, lexical categories, roots, morphology, syntax
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