On the Structure of the Lexical Plural in English

Rakić, Stanimir (2012) On the Structure of the Lexical Plural in English. In: 2nd International Conference on Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (FLTAL’12), 4-6 May 2012, Sarajevo.

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In our corpus extracted from LDCE (2003) I have noted some examples of the lexical plurals with s in which s is deleted in back formation or replaced in paradigmatic derivation: (1a) scissors > scissor v., barracks > barrack (soldiers) v., handcuffs > handcuff v. (b) steelworks > steelworker, environs > environed adj., thanks > thankful, thankless adj. These cases are particularly interesting because they involve the reinterpretation of the structure of words which are usually assumed to be simplex. The theory of Hay (2003) connects the parsing of complex words to the frequency of component morphemes. Assumably the suffix is more easily parsed if the base is more frequent than the whole word. In (1a), however, the forms of lexical plurals are usually more frequent than the infinitives (eg. barracks has the frequeny of 621, and to barrack 4 according to the British National Corpus), and the parsing of -s should not be expected. However, in the cases like (1a), we must also take into account the size of the family of words containing -s as a plural morpheme - it encourages speakers to interprete the phoneme s as a sign of plurality although s in (1a) is formally not a plural morpheme. By the analogy based on the meaning, position and pronunciation, speakers are encouraged to interprete s as a plural morpheme which can be removed or replaced. In paradigmatic derivations, it is replaced by the suffixes -er, -ed, -ful, -less in (1b). The examples like (1) demonstrate the effects of analogy in the reinterpretation of the structure of words which once have been assumed to be simplex.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Depositing User: Mr. Ibrahim Kinal
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2012 07:59
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2012 07:59
URI: http://eprints.ibu.edu.ba/id/eprint/1009

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