Dutch female personal nouns, the (non-) existence of derivational paradigms

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In the literature (Van Marle 1985, 1986) it has been argued that the formation of female personal nouns can only be properly understood if we assume that word-formation (just like inflection) is organized paradigmatically. In this paper I argue that an alternative analysis of these forms is possible which does not make use of paradigmaticity. Specifically, Van Marle observes a ‘paradigmatic’ condition on the existence of female nouns in -ster: such nouns are only possible if there is an existing neutral personal noun in -er. However, there is no visible derivational relation between the two. Van Marle concludes from this that the grammar uses information about forms ‘in absentia’ when building nouns in -ster. However, I will show that such paradigmatic means are superfluous once we acknowledge the possibility of morphological haplology. We propose that the female personal nouns are derived from the forms ending in -er and that a haplology-rule deletes -er immediately before -ster. Since haplology is independently motivated (see e.g. Yip 1998, Nevins 2012), we submit that the present contribution provides an argument against paradigmatic means for word-formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-192
Number of pages22
JournalSKASE Journal for Theoretical Linguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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