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Overview

Given the influence that constructive and abstractive traditions have had on each other, a study of the modern development of WP approaches must take into account the origin, motivation and evolution of models of morphemic analysis. On the one hand, the constructive model elaborated by Bloomfield and his successors was in certain respects a reaction against classical accounts, as the Bloomfieldians sought to base a new science of linguistics on notions that were both more abstract and also more clearly the output of ‘objective’ distributional analysis than the words and paradigms that underpinned more practical descriptive and pedagogical grammars.[1] On the other hand, the modern rehabilitation of WP models took place in the shadow of the Bloomfieldian tradition. A constructivist influence is particularly evident in the theoretical hybridization of realizational models, but is also reflected in the reorientation of the goals and the methods of morphological analysis.

To place modern WP models in the intellectual context in which they evolved, Chapter 2 reviews the constructive perspective developed within the Post- Bloomfieldian tradition, highlighting some of the ideas about theoretical uniformity and parsimony that guided this tradition. Chapters 3-5 then set out the components of a classical WP model and identify some of the idealizations that reflect the use of this model in pedagogical and descriptive traditions. The second part of the monograph traces the development of modern WP approaches in detail, comparing realizational and implicational models, and assessing their suitability as the basis for a general morphological theory.

  • [1] As Hockett (1987:81) later reminiscences, “We specialists were sophisticated enough to know thatwords are not the minimum units, but the chief modification needed to render the lay statement correctwas just to replace ‘word’ by ‘morpheme’ ”.
 
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