Inflectional Morphology

Laura Janda

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Inflectional Morphology

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



In terms of both form and meaning, inflectional morphology occupies an unusual position in language, as it teeters on the margins between lexicon and syntax in apparent defiance of definition. In most languages, inflectional morphology marks relations such as person, number, case, gender, possession, tense, aspect, and mood, serving as an essential grammatical glue holding the relationships in constructions together. Yet in some languages, inflectional morphology is minimal or may not exist at all. From the perspective of cognitive linguistics, inflectional morphology presents a rich array of opportunities to apply and test core concepts, particularly those involving category structure (radial categories, prototypicality, polysemy), the grounding and organization of categories (embodiment, basic-level concepts, “ception,” construal), and the means of extension and elaboration of categories (metaphor, metonymy). This article assumes that there are three kinds of morphemes: lexical, derivational, and inflectional. The behavior of these three types of morphemes can best be understood within the context of constructions. The article focuses on the highly inflected Slavic languages to illustrate the discussions.

Keywords: Slavic languages; inflectional morphology; morphemes; metaphor; metonymy; constructions; lexicon; syntax; cognitive linguistics; radial categories

Article.  8054 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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