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A Distributed Morphology Approach to Argument Encoding in Kambera

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In the Malayo-Polynesian language Kambera definite arguments are encoded on the verb via clitics whose form varies between person, number and case. These markers show many instances of syncretism below the clitic level. The aim of this article is to derive the distribution of the homonymous inflection markers and thereby to motivate that syncretic forms do not appear accidentally, as stated in the Syncretism Principle in Müller (2004). The main insight is that we find a correlation between the items' specificity, that means the number of features they realize, and their sonority – a principle called Iconicity by Wiese (1999) – that has until now exclusively been stated for some Indo-European languages. This fact strengthens the hypothesis that iconicity qualifies as a meta-grammatical principle for the architecture of morphological systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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