Morphology ≠ Syntax

Peter Ackema and Ad Neeleman

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780199247455
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Morphology ≠ Syntax

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



This article argues for keeping the domains of morphology and syntax distinct, but within the larger domain of the syntactic module. It also indicates that ‘morphology’ is actually ‘Word syntax’, whereas what is traditionally called syntax is actually just a submodule concerned with ‘Phrasal syntax’. The article concentrates on the relation between syntax and morphology, and more specifically, on the question of whether there is a generative system for word formation separate from syntax. The arguments for a distinct word-syntax module are described. These arguments provide a solid case for the hypothesis that the systems which generate the syntax of words and the syntax of phrases must be separated. The general conclusion is that there are no direct interactions between word syntax and phrasal syntax. They interact only indirectly, via the process of insertion that connects structures from both submodules, and via the rules which connect morphosyntactic structures with morphophonological ones.

Keywords: morphology; word syntax; phrasal syntax; insertion; morphosyntactic structures

Article.  11220 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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