West Circassian polysynthesis at the morphology-syntax interface
Keywords:morphology-syntax interface, noun incorporation, polysynthesis, word formation, head movement, syntax-prosody interface, West Circassian
AbstractThis paper presents an analysis of word formation in West Circassian, a polysynthetic language. I argue that while verbs and nouns superficially share a similar morphological profile, they are in fact constructed through two distinct word formation strategies: while verbal morphology is concatenated via syntactic head movement, the noun phrase is pronounced as a single word due to rules of syntax-to-prosody mapping. Such a division of labor provides an account for why only nouns, and not verbs, exhibit productive noun incorporation in the language: West Circassian noun incorporation is prosodic, rather than syntactic. The evidence for this two-fold approach to word formation comes from morpheme ordering in nominalizations.
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