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Interaction of verbal categories: Resolution of infelicitous grammeme combinations

Andrej Malchukov12

1Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

2Institute for Linguistic Studies, St. Petersburg

Correspondence address: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail:

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 49, Issue 1, Pages 229–282, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/ling.2011.006, January 2011

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In this paper I propose, building on an earlier work by Xrakovskij (Grammaticeskie kategorii glagola: opyt teorii vzaimodejstvija, Nauka, 1996) and Aikhenvald and Dixon (Language 74: 56–80, 1998), a general approach to the study of grammeme interaction, focusing on functionally infelicitous grammeme combinations (such as perfective presents), and demonstrate its applicability to the domain of verbal categories. It is argued that the outcome of grammeme conflict depends on the general principles of markedness and semantic scope. I further consider other factors, both functional and structural, which constrain grammeme combinability, and which are regarded as competing motivations in the domain of grammeme interaction. Finally, I demonstrate how the various factors can be integrated into a single model, which crucially relies on the concept of local markedness and markedness hierarchies.

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