Lampitelli – Phonological decomposition of inflectional markers: paradigms vs. allomorphy

An interesting debate in morpho-phonological literature concerns “the division of labor in exponence” (Bermúdez-Otero 2012), that is the question of how lexical vs. derived information is treated. In theories assuming that phonological material is associated with syntactic terminals –that is, morphemes– late in derivation (Embick 2010 among the most relevant ones), the mechanism doing this job –spell-out– plays a central role. The way spell-out works is at core of intense discussions.

This course deals with the representation of phonological exponents, and focuses on how surface forms may be derived from basic, abstract items. In other words, the less lexical you go, the more abstract your phonological representations must be. We pursue a decomposition-based approach to exponence, as proposed and elaborated in Guerssel & Lowenstamm (1990), Bendjaballah (2003) and related work, and argue that (allomorphic) alternations result from the application of regular phonology. Put differently, paradigms are epiphenomenal, non-active linguistic objects.


Day 1 and 2. Paradigms, allomorphy, and the decompositional approach.

Suggested readings: Bendjaballah (2003), Bendjaballah & Haiden (2013, 2014), Bermúdez-Otero (2012), Bobalijk (2008), Bonet & Harbour (2012), Blevins (2006), Guerssel & Lowenstamm (1996), McCarthy (2005).

Day 3 to 5. Case studies.

Case study 1 – The Italian definite article: Allomorphy?

Suggested reading: Faust et al (2018).

Case study 2 – The Somali verb inflection.

Suggested reading: Barillot & Ségéral (2005), Barillot et al. (2018).

Time permitting: Case study 3 – Gender, number (and case) in nouns



Some items are here, links to those which are not are linked below.

Barillot, X, Bendjaballah, S. & N. Lampitelli. (2018). Lexical Affixes and Verbal Conjugations in SomaliJournal of Linguistics, 54,1: 3-43.

Barillot, X. & Ph. Ségéral (2005). On phonological processes in the “3rd conjugation” of Somali, Folia Orientalia 41 : 115-131.

Bendjaballah, S. (2003). The Internal Structure of the Determiner in Beja. Research in Afroasiatic Grammar 2. Lecarme J. (ed.) Amsterdam, Benjamins: 35-52

Bendjaballah, S., & Haiden, M. (2013). The representational anomalies of floating markers: light prepositions in Taqbaylit of Chemini. In Challenges to linearization T. Biberauer & I. Roberts (eds.) Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 331-376.

Bendjaballah, S. & Haiden, M. (2014). Sepp vs. Paradigms. In The Form of Structure, the Structure of Form. Esssays in Honor of Jean Lowenstamm. S. Bendjaballah, N. Faust, M. Lahrouchi and N. Lampitelli (eds.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 287-302.

Bermúdez-Otero, R. (2012) The architecture of grammar and the division of labor in exponence. In The morphology and phonology of exponence. J. Trommer (ed.) Oxford University Press. 8-83.

Blevins, J. P. (2006) Word-based morphology. Journal of Linguistics, 42: 531-573.

Bobalijk, J. (2008) Paradigms (Optimal and Otherwise): A Case for Skepticism. In Inflectional Identities, A. Bachrach and A. I. Nevins (eds). Oxford University Press, 29-54

Bonet, E. & D. Harbour. (2012) Contextual allomorphy. In The morphology and phonology of exponence. J. Trommer (ed.) Oxford University Press. 195-235.

Faust, N, Lampitelli, N. & S. Ulfsbjorninn. (2018). Articles of Italian unite! Italian definite article without allomorphy. Canadian Journal of Linguistics.

Guerssel, M. & J. Lowenstamm (1996). Ablaut in Classical Arabic Measure I Active Verbal Forms. In Studies in Afroasiatic Grammar, The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics, J. Lecarme, J. Lowenstamm & U. Shlonsky (eds), 123-134.

McCarthy, J. J., (2005). Optimal paradigms. Paradigms in Phonological Theory. L. Downing, T. A. Hall, and R. Raffelsiefen (eds.), Oxford University Press.