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Folia Linguistica

Acta Societatis Linguisticae Europaeae

Editor-in-Chief: Fischer, Olga / Norde, Muriel

Folia Linguistica
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Volume 47, Issue 2


Syncretism and its effects within Maltese nominal paradigms

Maris Camilleri / Phyllisienne Gauci
Published Online: 2014-02-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin.2013.013


This article discusses the morphologically complex phenomenon of syncretism in its relation to stem patterns, overabundance and overdifferentiation, by describing and analyzing past and ongoing changes in Maltese nominal paradigms. Pathways of diachronic change leading to nominal paradigms in Present-day Maltese are put forward. It will be shown that the canonical/non-canonical paradigmatic classification cannot be simply reduced to a binary parameter. Rather, canonical or non-canonical behaviour can refer to the stem form, word form, affixes or other potential units in a given inflectional paradigm, separately. On such an account, the same paradigm may have different facets, and can be canonical on one parameter but non-canonical on others. A parallel claim will be made for overdifferentiated vs. non-overdifferentiated sets of lexemes. Such lexemes cannot be exclusively considered as belonging to the overdifferentiated or non-overdifferentiated set. As will be shown from the body-parts set of data in Maltese, a lexeme may have split membership, and may belong within both an overdifferentiated and a non-overdifferentiated class of lexemes depending on the inflectional paradigm employed.

Keywords: Syncretism; non-canonicity; Maltese; dual; overdifferentiation

About the article

Published Online: 2014-02-11

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: Folia Linguistica, Volume 47, Issue 2, Pages 323–344, ISSN (Online) 1614-7308, ISSN (Print) 0165-4004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin.2013.013.

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