Linguistik online 19, 2/04

Prototypentheorie und Flexionsmorphologie

Jacques Poitou (Lyon)



This article presents an application of the theory of prototypes to the field of inflectional morphology and especially to the treatment of exceptions. From the assumption that the handling of irregular facts is basically ruled by the same principles of categorization as the handling of regular facts, the article shows on concrete examples of German nouns - weak masculine nouns, feminine nouns with inflected e-plural and er-plural - that the principle of the motivation of inflection by other properties of lexical items (phonological, semantic, syntactic properties) also works in inflectional classes with few elements. This type of analysis leads to the hypothesis of much more complex categorial structures, which includes subcategories with very few elements, instead of the traditional dichotomy between regular and irregular or a simple continuum prototypical - non prototypical.


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