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I The classical WP model

Revival of the WP model

The modern revival of the word and paradigm model dates, for all intents and purposes, from the publication of Hockett’s Two models of grammatical description in 1954. This revival is something of an unintended consequence, given that Hockett’s study is mainly an extended comparison of two variants of morphemic analysis and, in many ways, represents the high-water mark of the morpheme- based tradition. Bloomfield (1933) had earlier provided the foundation for models of morphemic analysis by decomposing words into minimal units of lexical form (morphemes) and minimal features of‘arrangement’ (taxemes). But Bloomfield’s proposals seemed programmatic and obscure in many respects, and it fell to his successors to develop his approach into a general model of morphemic analysis. The most influential line of development led to what Hockett (1954) termed the ‘item and arrangement’ (IA) model. By reducing Bloomfield’s diverse features of arrangement to features of‘order’ and ‘selection, Harris (1942) and Hockett (1947) arrived at a simple model in which word structure could be represented by linear sequences of morphemes. The remaining features of arrangement were relegated to other levels of analysis, notably to a ‘morphophonemic’ level that mediated between sequences of morphemes and surface forms (consisting of sequences of phonemes).

Much of the appeal of the IA model derived from its compatibility with item- based approaches in other domains. The analysis of sound systems into minimal distinctive units had inspired a search for parallels in the grammatical system. In this context, the analysis of words into arrangements of morphemes appeared to converge with the phrase-structure descriptions assigned by models of Immediate Constituent analysis (Wells 1947) and to offer a uniform item-based treatment of grammaticalstructure. Evenmoregenerally, the IA modelfitwellwithaconception of linguistic analysis as a general process of segmentation and classification, one in which the minimal units at a given level were composed of arrangements of units at the next level down. The basic hierarchy, in which phrases consist of arrangements of words, and words consist of arrangements of morphemes, had again been set out earlier, in Bloomfield (1926: §III), but it was only later that Bloomfield’s schematic postulates were elaborated into a uniform system of levels based on part-whole relations.

 
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