[UMR] Roots & verbal templates 1: Itamar Kastner (Humboldt U. Berlin)
Itamar Kastner (HU Berlin)
The non-concatenative morphology of languages such as Hebrew and Arabic has often been used as a testing ground for theories of morphology. This is because in these languages, consonantal “roots” are interleaved with melodic “templates” in a way that is very different from concatenative morphology, at least on the surface. In this talk I sketch a theory of the Hebrew verb which doubles as a general theory of verbal morphology, couched within Distributed Morphology.
Specifically, I argue that lexical roots combine with syntactic functional heads, not with templatic morphemes. Templates then emerge as a side effect of how the general phonology of the language constrains the linearization of morphemes. This analysis improves on previous accounts of root-and-pattern morphology by paying attention to the syntax, the semantics and the phonology at the same time. As a consequence, the Semitic root is argued to be analogous to lexical roots in other languages, storing idiosyncratic phonological and semantic information but obeying the syntactic structure in which it is embedded.