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Why defective paradigms are, and aren't, the result of competing morphological patterns

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Recent accounts treat paradigmatic gaps as failures in the inflectional process due to conflicting grammatical principles (Albright 2003, Baronian 2005, Hudson 2000, Rice 2005). These accounts are appealing because they do not posit lexicallyspecified defective paradigms. However, in this paper I argue that grammar conflict accounts do not always withstand scrutiny. Speakers sometimes treat gaps as examples of lexically defective paradigms, despite linguists' ability to make broader generalizations. I present a case study of genitive plural gaps among Modern Greek nouns (e.g., kóta 'hen.NSG', *kotón 'hen.GPL'). The genitive plural has variable stress patterns, and gaps affect lexemes for which stress is least predictable. At first glance, conflicting stress patterns thus seem to motivate these gaps. I demonstrate via a production and ratings task that subjects (N=38) consistently identify gaps, but do not connect gaps to variable stress. I argue that this is an expected result if defective paradigms are treated as lexical gangs.
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Keywords: Greek; lexical gangs; paradigm; paradigm gaps; stress patterns

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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  • This publication consists of the proceedings of the main session and any parasessions from the annual meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.
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