French and Italian | Introduction to French Morphology
F579 | 25390 | Vance, Barbara S.


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 (most recently
Optimality Theory and Distributed Morphology) 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. 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.