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Sequential and cumulative exponence in Finnish

A simple illustration may help to give an initial sense of the components of a realizational account and the way in which they interact. Consider the case forms in the partial paradigm of the Finnish noun talo ‘house’ in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1 Partial paradigm of Finnish talo ‘house’ (Karlsson 1999:249)












Partial stem entry for talo

Figure 6.1 Partial stem entry for talo

Plural and grammatical case realization rules

Figure 6.2 Plural and grammatical case realization rules

These forms are all based on a stem form, talo. The partial entry in Figure 6.1 specifies this stem, along with the word class of talo. Entries can also include additional stem forms, or ‘intrinsic’ features, such as inflection class.

The inflections that follow the stem are introduced by the rules in Figure 6.2, organized into ordered ‘blocks’ A and B. The first block, A, contains rules introducing a number-neutral plural marker -i (realized as -j intervocalically), and a nominative plural marker -t. The rules in the second block, B, introduce a partitive marker -a, a genitive marker -n and a genitive plural marker -en. The observation that the plural marker occurs closer to the stem than the case endings is expressed by assigning the plural rule to the first block, A.

The application of these rules is illustrated in Figure 6.3. The partial feature bundles represent the inflectional properties that distinguish the six grammatical forms. The row below the bundles identifies the lexical stem, talo, from the entry in Figure 6.1. The bottom rows then exhibit the effect of the rules in ‘blocks’ A and B, or indicate, via a gap, that no rule has applied. Although nominative and singular features define a distinctive paradigm cell in Figure 6.3, there are no rules that realize these features in Figure 6.2. Hence the realization of the nominative singular cell preserves the form of the lexical stem. In the absence of a singular rule, the genitive and partitive singular are also based on the basic stem. In contrast, the genitive and partitive plural cells both trigger the application of the plural rule in block A, defining a plural base for the genitive plural and partitive rules in block B. The realization of these simple forms illustrates two core functions of rule blocks. As noted above, the sequential ordering of blocks A and B ensures that the plural marker is realized closer to the stem than the genitive or partitive plural markers. In addition, the rules within a block are assumed to be ordered with respect to specificity.

Spell-out of grammatical case forms of talo

Figure 6.3 Spell-out of grammatical case forms of talo

This type of ‘disjunctive rule ordering’ convention (Anderson 1986) regulates rule competition in both blocks. In block A, the rule introducing the nominative plural ending -t takes priority over the rule introducing the simple plural ending -i; in block B, it is the rule introducing the genitive plural ending-en that takes priority over the rule introducing the genitive ending -n. The various realizational models build on this foundation in characteristic ways, usually by adding further rule types or more elaborate principles to govern rule interaction. The following subsections will now survey this variation. More detailed discussions can be found in the monograph-length presentations of Matthews (1972), Anderson (1992), Aronoff (1994) and Stump (2001).

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