Modern Irish exhibits a striking complementary distribution between verbal and prepositional inflection and pronouns. Previous accounts have derived the distribution either from local morphological processes or from economy conditions restricting possible output forms (morphological blocking). Prepositional inflection provides unique insight, showing that inflection also cannot co-occur with non-pronominal arguments. The distribution is shown to follow from the interaction of local morphological operations. First, following previous work, inflection represents agreement with an obligatorily null pronoun, and second, lexical arguments strip away agreement features via a rule of morphological impoverishment. The proposal is contrasted with an approach based on economy principles which is incapable of capturing of deriving the observed patterns of inflection in cases of suppletion, demonstrating that apparent blocking effects must follow from the local application of obligatory morphological rules and not from the global comparison of possible forms.
Proceedings of the 26th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Charles B. Chang and Hannah J. Haynie
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