Competition between Syntax and Morphology

Peter Ackema and Ad Neeleman

in Beyond Morphology

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267286
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191708312 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

Competition between Syntax and Morphology

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This chapter discusses the idea that if the phrase-level and word-level structures are generated in separate submodules, there can be competition between these modules as to which one gets to realize a particular combination of a head and its dependents. It is proposed that in many languages syntax takes priority over morphology, all else being equal. Things are equal if projections of the same heads are combined, and if the meaning relation expressed by this combination is the same in both cases. This accounts for why synthetic compounds in English can contain the combination of a verb and its internal argument, whereas root compounds cannot. Other phenomena accounted for by the idea of such syntax-morphology competition include the behaviour of ‘separable compound verbs’ in Dutch, particle verbs in Swedish, and the occurrence of syntactic idioms in morphological form when embedded under an affix.

Keywords: compounding; particle verbs; idioms; submodule; Dutch; Swedish

Chapter.  15131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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