Description and explanation in morphophonology: the case of Japanese verb inflection

Brent de Chene

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The suffixal alternations of Japanese verbal inflection have been analyzed in at least four distinct ways in the literature. In this paper, working in the context of a general model of the inferential relation between synchrony and diachrony in inflectional morphophonology, I compute the predictions for potential change for three analyses of those alternations and show that only one set of predictions is consistent with the ongoing changes evident in a nationwide survey of inflection. I conclude that the analysis generating the correct predictions is the unique descriptively adequate analysis of the system of alternations in question. With regard to the explanatory principles governing the choice of that analysis from the set of observationally adequate alternatives, I show that the Japanese case counterexemplifies a wide range of proposals that have been made about the operation of morphophonological analysis and change and propose that the choice of both base forms and rules is due to a principle of Generalized Type Frequency. Among the general themes of the paper are the grammatical reality of language-specific phonological rules, the relevance of analogical processes to synchronic description and explanation, and the limited role played in morphophonological analysis by global considerations of predictability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-80
    Number of pages44
    JournalJournal of East Asian Linguistics
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1

    Fingerprint

    Morphophonology
    Verb Inflection
    Japanese Verbs
    language
    Alternation
    Prediction
    literature
    Synchrony
    Phonological Rules
    Diachrony
    Inflection
    Verbal Inflection
    Language
    Type Frequency
    Predictability
    Base Form

    Keywords

    • Analogy
    • Descriptive adequacy
    • Japanese
    • Type frequency
    • Verb inflection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Linguistics and Language
    • Language and Linguistics
    • History and Philosophy of Science

    Cite this

    Description and explanation in morphophonology : the case of Japanese verb inflection. / de Chene, Brent.

    In: Journal of East Asian Linguistics, Vol. 25, No. 1, 01.02.2016, p. 37-80.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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