Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae
Editor-in-Chief: Fischer, Olga / Norde, Muriel
4 Issues per year
IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.324
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.616
CiteScore 2017: 0.55
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.349
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.093
Folia Linguistica Historica
IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.529
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.525
The indeterminacy of word segmentation and the nature of morphology and syntax
The general distinction between morphology and syntax is widely taken for granted, but it crucially depends on a cross-linguistically valid concept of ‘(morphosyntactic) word’. I show that there are no good criteria for defining such a concept. I examine ten criteria in some detail (potential pauses, free occurrence, mobility, uninterruptibility, non-selectivity, non-coordinatability, anaphoric islandhood, nonextractability, morphophonological idiosyncrasies, and deviations from bi-uniqueness), and I show that none of them is necessary and sufficient on its own, and no combination of them gives a definition of ‘word’ that accords with linguists' orthographic practice. ‘Word’ can be defined as a language-specific concept, but this is not relevant to the general question pursued here. ‘Word’ can be defined as a fuzzy concept, but this is theoretically meaningful only if the continuum between affixes and words, or words and phrases, shows some clustering, for which there is no systematic evidence at present. Thus, I conclude that we do not currently have a good basis for dividing the domain of morphosyntax into morphology and syntax, and that linguists should be very careful with general claims that make crucial reference to a cross-linguistic ‘word’ notion.
Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.