The word and syntax

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Abstract

The identification of what words are is central to grammatical theorizing: without a theory of the word, it is impossible to establish what it is that syntax combines and what semantics composes the meanings of. But there is a substantial degree of theoretical debate about where the boundaries of words are and how the relationship between syntax and morphology should be understood. This chapter addresses that literature by exploring a case of inflection in English (the passive participle) and two ‘boundary’ topics: cliticization and Noun Incorporation. It is argued that the Strong Lexicalist Hypothesis—the claim that neither inflectional and derivational morphology is syntactic—is adequate in these cases. The chapter concludes that the Word is a theoretical construct, and that we should not expect naive definitions to deliver useful analytic results. It is further argued that discourse reference and other semantic phenomena are not relevant to establishing wordhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Word
EditorsJohn R. Taylor
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter11
Pages196-220
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780199641604
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks in Linguistics
PublisherOxford University Press

Keywords

  • lexicalism
  • inflection
  • derivation
  • clitics
  • noun incorporation
  • discourse reference
  • affixes

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