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Bookmark and Share Paper 3045

The Role of Morphosyntactic Feature Economy in the Evolution of Slavic Number
Tatyana Slobodchikoff
419-427 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


In this article, the author investigates diachronic changes in the morphosyntactic category of the Slavic dual which occurred in the 11th-15th centuries. Dual number marked on personal pronouns and verbal agreement suffixes disappeared in the majority of Slavic languages except for three—Slovenian, Upper Sorbian, and Lower Sorbian. Previous studies do not provide a principled account why the monomorphemic dual was reanalyzed as bimorphemic in Slovenian and Upper and Lower Sorbian, and why it was replaced by the plural in the majority of Slavic languages including Russian and Kashubian. The author proposes a new principle of Morphosyntactic Feature Economy which drives diachronic change in the category of number in Slavic languages. Morphosyntactic Feature Economy plays an essential role in restructuring of the morphosyntactic category of the Slavic dual. Morphosyntactic restructuring of the Slavic dual, triggered by its morphosyntactic and semantic markedness, results in a morphosyntactically 'simpler' category of number. As a consequence of the application of the principle of Morphosyntactic Feature Economy, the language learner acquires a featurally restructured category of number, which is simpler and more computationally efficient.

Published in

Proceedings of the 31st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Robert E. Santana-LaBarge
Table of contents
Printed edition: $375.00