Desinences – also known as "noun markers" in the literature – are one of the main issues brought up on the current debates about the relation between idiosyncratic listing and structural aspects of language. Desinences are problematic from a structural perspective because (a) not all languages have these grammatical markers, so they do not seem to be universal; (b) their semantic or syntactic role is not clear and (c) they display different values, but the association between a marker and a noun, at best, follows some tendencies, but (almost) never clear semantic or grammatical patterns. This paper has the goal of determining which aspects of the grammar of desinences are amenable to a structural analysis, and suggesting a possible way of coping with the idiosyncratic and unpredictable aspects which is compatible with the structural account proposed. We argue that it is possible to find one single subjacent structural pattern common to languages with desinences and with noun classifiers and that the structure proposed, alt-hough not enough to avoid listedness, can at least account for which items inside the structure can impose idiosyncratic selection on this marker. The language used to illustrate the analysis is Spanish.
© School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2012