Reviewed by Mark J. Elson, University of Virginia
The authors describe their book as ‘targeted to advanced students’, and ‘presupposing some basic knowledge of general linguistics and, therefore, some familiarity with fundamental morphological notions that are part of the standard linguistic position’ (xi). The book comprises eight chapters: ‘Morphology: Definitions and basic concepts’ (1–21); ‘Morphological units’ (22–43); ‘Morphological structures’ (44–65); ‘Inflectional processes’ (66–85), ‘Derivational processes’ (86–110); ‘Compounding and other word-formation processes’ (111–32); ‘Morphology’s relation to syntax’ (133–51); and ‘Morphology’s relation to phonology and semantics’ (152–84). Each chapter includes exercises and a reading list, and is followed by answers to the exercises, references, and an index. The narrative is clear in both its verbiage and exemplification.
Although the chapter designations suggest that theory is confined largely to the penultimate and final chapters, it is an important part of the discussion of morphological units as well, in which we find treatment of the debate on the existence of the morpheme (29–36) and associated topics, including item-arrangement, item-process, and word-process. Otherwise, the discussion preceding the final chapters is organized in terms of data exemplifying phenomena encountered in the investigation of words and of the concepts to which they give rise (e.g. allomorphy, headedness, exocentricity, agglutination, fusion, morpheme types, inflection, derivation, compounding, productivity). The chapters on derivation and compounding are particularly good, each providing a well structured and exemplified survey of its subject and, in the case of derivation, its relation to inflection.
With regard to theory beyond that relevant to the morpheme as such, the authors include lexicalism (133–37) and constructionism (137–42) in their discussion of the relation of morphology to syntax. In their treatment of the relation of morphology to phonology and semantics, they include lexical strata theory (155–56), the separation hypothesis (159–61), and the late insertion hypothesis (161–63), among others. They also comment briefly on morphologization (148–51). There is no discussion, either in the treatment of the morpheme or that of the separationist approach, of the debate surrounding lexeme-based versus morpheme-based models, although this issue is relevant to the existence of the morpheme and the separationist approach, which themselves are connected. There is no significant discussion of morphological typology, although agglutination is mentioned.
Books aimed at more advanced students are essential but are in short supply. Their importance is obvious: they facilitate, through comprehensive but accessible coverage, the transition to the array of scholarly publications more focused in their subject matter and detailed in their theoretical orientation. For those who are fortunate enough to be part of a curriculum that offers an advanced course in morphology, this book will serve well, not only for its coverage, but also for the clarity of its exposition. If there is any criticism to be made, it is that the presentation is too brief in some areas of theory, a minor deficiency easily rectified by instructors. Beyond students, its value as a reference to others who need a brief introduction to issues and topics should not be underestimated. Theories are complex by nature, and this book as a first step to more detailed presentations of them is, therefore, a significant contribution to pedagogy and resource.