Linguistics colloquium: Lior Laks

23/01/2018 - 14:00 - 15:30

Lior Laks, Bar Ilan University

Topic: Competing vowels in Hebrew feminine forms -  between the lexicon and the syntax

Abstract: This talk will examine variation in the formation of fem. forms in Hebrew. Fem. formation in Hebrew has three feminine suffixes: -a, -it, -et.  Suffix selection is predictable based on semantic and morpho-phonological properties of the base, but is subject to irregularity. For example, when the masc. based is formed in the CaCaC pattern, different bases can take different suffixes (e.g. zamar –  zamer-et 'singer', sapar – sapar-it 'barber', ravak –  ravak-a 'single'). However, in most cases suffix selection us based on properties of the base. For example, words in the CaCCan pattern systematically take -it (e.g. daykan –  daykan-it 'punctual'). The talk will examine two case studies in which the same base can take two affixes:

  1. Loan words: Loan words mostly take the suffix-it (Schwarzwald 2002), e.g. bos –  bos-it 'boss'. However, there is a set of words that can also take the suffix -a, e.g. snob- snob-it/snob-a 'snob'.
  2. Passive participle patterns: words that are formed in passive participle patterns like meCuCaC and muCCaC  can in some xases take both -a and -et, e.g. melumad – melumed-et /  melumad-a 'educated'.

The study shows that such cases of variation (and lack thereof) can be predicted based on systematic guidelines. I argue that in both cases, the competition in not just between rival suffixes, but between vowels. Specifically, I will show that the selection of a suffix with one vowel and not another is correlated with word formation in the lexicon and in the syntax.


Building 504, room 7

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