Universität Konstanz
Fachbereich Sprachwissenschaft
SFB 471 "Variation und Entwicklung im Lexikon"

Funding Period 1st of January 1997 - 31st of December 2008







Project A-21

Morphological Variation and Change


Project Abstract

This project focuses on the relation between phonological and morphological variation and change by addressing the following questions:

  • How does morphological variation arise from phonological variation?
  • Under which conditions is morphological variation preserved, how does it spread, and how may it be levelled?
  • To what extent is morphological structure a factor of phonological variation?

The relation between morphological and phonological variation will continue to be investigated in a number of Romance languages. Although these languages belong to the same language family, they present a remarkable scale of diversity of morphological and phonological variation. French and Occitan have different patterns of stem alternation, with French being far less transparent than Occitan. Standard Italian and the Italo-Romance dialect of Piedimonte Matese (Campania) differ in the degree of the abstractness of underlying forms, where Piedimonte Matese may be said to present more abstract patterns of variation. Italian and Spanish differ strongly regarding the role that morphological structure plays in stress assignment. We believe that by investigating a given phenomenon of morphological variation and its historical evolution in more than one Romance language, and by comparing the different synchronic grammars that incorporate the variation, we can show that general principles of phonology and morphology constrain the direction of linguistic variation and change.

One particular question we address in the present phase is the difference between morphological variation within the stem in contrast to variation within inflectional affixes. The phenomena in question is metaphony (or vowel raising) as an instance of morphophonological variation within the stem interacting with suffix allomorphy and metrical structure.


letztes Update: 16.02.2009
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