This contribution explores the possibility of disentangling the information fused in the Italian nominal inflectional suffixes to the extent that a one-to-one correspondence between morphosyntactic information and phonological exponents can be established. This is made possible by decomposing the melodic structure of nominal inflectional suffixes in subsegmental primes known as elements, subsegmental units that enjoy an autonomous phonetic interpretability. An examination of the internal structure of Italian nominal inflectional suffixes shows that the element A is constantly present in the phonological representation of singular suffixes and that the element I is present in all the plural suffixes. By pursuing the hypothesis that the elements A and I are phonological exponents of the number values, it emerges that inflectional class also has a phonological correlate. Contrarily to common assumptions, then, the class and number feature values may be argued to have a recoverable phonological correlate. According to this analysis Italian nominal inflectional endings are portmanteau suffixes that display not only the fusion of the class and number abstract meanings but the fusion of the class and number concrete forms. The proposed model is further discussed with particular respect to its implications for the representation of morphosyntactic information in Italian lexemes.
Selected Proceedings of the 6th Décembrettes: Morphology in Bordeaux
edited by Fabio Montermini, Gilles Boyé, and Jesse Tseng
Table of contents