On containment and syncretism in English preterites and participles

Luke Adamson


This study explores Bobaljik’s (2012) suggestion that in English, the feature representation of the preterite contains the representation of the past participle. While containment analyses in both Distributed Morphology (DM) and Nanosyntax capture the virtual absence of ABA patterns of syncretism for the order BASE-PARTICIPLE-PRETERITE, I demonstrate that they face empirical challenges when the exponence of the suffixes is considered. After evaluating an alternative feature decomposition, I show how a DM containment approach can derive the facts for both base and suffix alternations with the aid of impoverishment, which also helps to explain counterexamples to *ABA in this domain. Lastly, I offer cautionary discussion about the relationship between containment structures and deriving *ABA.


ABA; containment; syncretism; Elsewhere Condition; allomorphy; Dis- tributed Morphology; Nanosyntax; impoverishment; overlapping decomposition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v4i1.4555

Copyright (c) 2019 Luke Adamson

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