The Mirror Alignment Principle: Morpheme Ordering at the Morphosyntax-Phonology Interface
Sam Zukoff
August 2020

As codified by Baker’s (1985) “Mirror Principle”, the linear order of morphemes within a word generally correlates with hierarchical syntactic structure. While Baker uses morphological ordering to demonstrate the inseparability of syntax and morphology, he does not dwell on the formal means by Mirror Principle-compliance is enacted in the grammar, tacitly assuming a cyclic morphological concatenation-based system. This paper develops a new framework for morpheme ordering, the Mirror Alignment Principle (MAP), which derives the Mirror Principle while avoiding some of the shortcomings of cyclic morphological concatenation. The MAP is a morphology/phonology-interface algorithm that takes morphosyntactic c-command relations and dynamically translates them into a ranking of Alignment constraints (McCarthy and Prince 1993) in CON in the phonological component. All possible morpheme orders are generated by GEN, and the optimal surface order is selected by EVAL. Even though morpheme order is computed in the phonology, the driving force behind this order is the syntax/morphology. This link between grammatical components generates Mirror Principle-compliant morpheme orders. This paper focuses on two case studies. First, it will show how the MAP is consistent with the complex interaction between Mirror Principle-satisfaction and the “CARP template” in Bantu (Hyman 2003). Second, it will show that the MAP can explain ordering alternations within Arabic’s nonconcatenative verbal system. This will demonstrate that Mirror Principle-behavior can indeed be identified even in nonconcatenative morphology. Lastly, the paper situates the MAP proposal within the broader debates surrounding the phonology-morphology interface, with special attention to infixation.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005374
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: NLLT (to appear)
keywords: mirror principle, alignment, morpheme ordering, bantu carp template, arabic nonconcatenative morphology, infixation, morphology, syntax, phonology
previous versions: v1 [August 2020]
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