Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

L'Allomorphie Radicale dans les Lexèmes Adjectivaux en Français: Le Cas des Adverbes en -ment

Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory - Eulàlia Bonet

Gilles Boyé [+-]
Université Bordeaux 3
After a very short career as a telecom engineer, Gilles Boyé studied Linguistics at the University of Paris 7. He works on inflectional morphology and on defectiveness, suppletion, and allomorphy, since 2000 in collaboration with Olivier Bonami. He has taught Linguistics at the Universities of Paris 8 and Nancy 2, and now teaches at the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne.
Marc Plénat [+-]
University of Toulouse
From his early Classical Studies (agrégation de grammaire, 1969), Marc Plénat turned to Linguistics (doctorat de linguistique, 1973, doctorat ès lettres, 1984). He started his academic career in Mexico (Colegio de México, 1974, Universidad de Xalapa, 1975). Back in France, he becomes an Associate Professor at Toulouse (1975), and then a Professor at Paris X-Nanterre (1987). In 1993, he joins the French Research Institute, CNRS, to become the director of the ERSS at Toulouse, a research team he had cofounded. He now presides over the destiny of the Cercle Linguistique of Valance d'Albigeois. His work counts about one hundred papers in phonology, poetics and morphology.


This work describes the morphology of the French adverbs in -ment. Mainly derived from adjectives, these adverbs use various stem allomorphs as their base: most of them are built on a form identical to the adjective feminine form (SEC, fem. sèche: sèchement), but some endings favor the emergence of an /e/ (PROFOND, fem. profonde: profondément), while others select unpredictable allomorphs (BREF, fém. brève: brièvement). Finally, adjectives with -ent and -ant endings give adverbs in -emment and -amment (PRUDENT, fem. prudente: prudemment, ÉLÉGANT, fem. élégante: élégamment), except when an /m/ precedes these endings and the stem switches back to the feminine form (CHARMANT, fem. charmante: charmantement). It would seem futile to try and capture all of this diversity with only universal phonological constraints. A simple reason would be that the same phonemic sequences give rise to different results when constructing an adverb in -ment or a noun for an action from a deadjectival verb (while from INNOCENT and PRÉCIS French derives the adverbs innocemment and précisément, the verbs INNOCENTER and PRÉCISER give innocentement and précisement from the same phonological stems). And, moreover, because the adverbs obtained from nouns do not behave in the same way as the ones constructed on adjectives (for the adjective COLLANT, the adverb is collamment, but for the noun COLLANTS, the adverb is collantement). Our analysis revolves around the hypothesis that, in the lexicon, lexemes do not come equipped with a unique stem but with an indexed set of stems, each associated with specific inflectional cells and derivational constructs. In this framework (which produced new descriptions for the paradigms of adjectives, see Bonami and Boyé 2005, Plénat and Plénat 2011), adverbs are built on a stem inherited from the past or created by analogy (ACCUEILLANT and IMMONDE bring the neological accueillamment and immondément, based on ÉLÉGANT: élégamment and PROFOND: profondément). However, in one particular context, a universal constraint takes precedence over the analogical constraints and selects a different allomorph: this dissimilative constraint holds that a sequence of /m/ is infelicitous for the derivation of adverbs from adjectives in -ment/-mant which never give adverbs in -memment/-mamment but instead select the same stem as the feminine. Thus, adverbs in -ment provide an interesting interplay between parochial morphological stem selection preferences and universal phonological constraints.

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Boyé, Gilles ; Plénat , Marc . L'Allomorphie Radicale dans les Lexèmes Adjectivaux en Français: Le Cas des Adverbes en -ment. Understanding Allomorphy - Perspectives from Optimality Theory. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 70-106 Jul 2015. ISBN 9781845532970. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=25216. Date accessed: 15 May 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25216. Jul 2015

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