French And Italian | French Morphology
F678 | 2364 | Prof. Barbara Vance


Morphology is the study of word structure. In this course, which
introduces morphology from the perspective of the structure of French,
we will be concerned both with basic questions that must be answered
in any theory (such as the elusive definitions of morpheme and word )
and with the various approaches to morphology taken within Generative
Linguistics (including Optimality Theory) in the last 30 years. Among
the questions particular to French that we will investigate are the
structure of verb endings and the role of the paradigm (inflectional
morphology), the status of the feminine desinence (inflection &
derivation), the building up of words from roots and suffixes or
prefixes (derivation, e.g. emploi+eur), the process of compounding
(e.g. la porte-parole, le cessez-le-feu), and the role of clitics
(e.g. me, y) in the grammar. We will also examine current trends in
"Grammaticalization Theory" and critically evaluate their potential to
shed light on issues in the history of French. Each of the areas we
treat will reveal a significant overlap between morphology proper and
either phonology or syntax or both, so that a major issue for
morphologists is to define the space of morphology in the grammar.
Competing views on this matter, from "morphocentrism" (at one
extreme) to the complete exclusion of any separate morphological
component in the grammar (on the other extreme), are explored. Because
issues in generative morphology interact so crucially with both
syntactic and phonological theory, the course affords an opportunity
for students to solidify their understanding of generative theory as a
whole.