Morphological Typology

Dunstan Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Morphological Typology

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  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



The term ‘morphological typology’ has been traditionally associated with the division of languages into basic ‘holistic’ types that could be used to characterize a complete language. Characterization of the morphological complexity of words is the sense in which morphological typology has traditionally been understood. Morphology's role is to interface between phonology and syntax. The variety of means by which morphology can perform the role of realizing morphosyntactic features is discussed. The weakness of traditional morphological typology was its overly ‘holistic’ approach. Theoretical morphology has come a long way since that time, but the ramifications of theoretical distinctions are still explored, such as that between realizational theories and lexical theories. Pure morphology, inflectional classes, and the different mechanisms associated with phenomena such as syncretism suggest a variety of dimensions along which the world's languages can be typologized.

Keywords: morphological typology; languages; holistic approach; morphological complexity; realizational theories; lexical theories

Article.  6057 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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