Edited by Janine Berns and Elena Tribushinina
[Linguistics in the Netherlands 36] 2019
► pp. 99–114
On the idiomatic nature of unproductive morphology
We present a case study in the marking of the negative prefix in French gradable adjectives, where the productive marker iN- alternates with a number of unproductive prefixes, like dé(s)-, dis-, mal-, mé(s)-. We treat this as a classical case of allomorphy, and present an account of the distribution of these allomorphs in terms of the nanosyntactic mechanism of pointers, by which lexical items may point to other, existing, lexical items in the postsyntactic lexicon. We claim that unproductive lexical items are not directly accessible for the spellout mechanism, but only indirectly, via pointers. We show how the analysis accounts for lexicalised semantics in derivations, as well as cases where the formal relationship between derivational pairs is not concatenative, but substitutive.