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Extra resources for Inflectional Economy and Politeness: Morphology-internal and morphology-external factors in the loss of second person marking in Dutch

Sample text

Features that are encoded by affixes that are expressed closer to the stem usually neutralize features that are encoded by affixes expressed further from the stem. Since tense is expressed closer to the stem than person, it is not surprising that the preferred neutralization pattern is where tense neutralizes person (as shown in (4)). The pattern where person neutralizes tense as hypothesized in (6) is rarely attested. The question is why we find patterning in neutralization patterns. Pinker (1996: 203-206) relates neutralization patterns to limited paradigm splitting.

Listen (1999) shows that polite inflection frequently co-occurs with requests. In general, requests are considered more face threatening than non-requests since requests require action from the hearer. Specifically, Listen (1999) describes a politeness strategy in Low German (from 1500-1652) and in High German (from 1537-1698) where speakers combine the use of plural inflection a singular title of abstraction (Listen 1999: 30-33, 124138). In (27), we see that singular abstractions, such as Ihr Ecellentz (‘Your Excellency’) combine with third person plural inflection müssen (‘have to’) instead of with the singular inflection muss (‘has to’).

Let us begin by looking at implicational relationships in feature values. We observed that the presence of the dual implies the presence of the plural. Harley & Ritter (2002) argue that implicational relations in feature values result from cognitive dependency between the features being expressed. The general notion plural, for example, needs to be triggered first before the more specific notion dual can be triggered. If confronted by a number contrast in the input, learners will always associate this contrast first, with the distinction singular instead of plural.

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