In this groundbreaking monograph, Anna Maria Di Sciullo proposes that asymmetry—the irreversibility of a pair of elements in an ordered set—is a hard-wired property of morphological relations. Her argument that asymmetry is central in derivational morphology, would, if true, make morphological objects regular objects of grammar just as syntactic and phonological objects are. This contrasts with the traditional assumption that morphology is irregular and thus not subject to the basic hard-wired regularities of form and interpretation.
Di Sciullo argues that the asymmetric property of morphological relations is part of the language faculty. She proposes a theory of grammar, Asymmetry Theory, according to which generic operations have specific instantiations in parallel derivations of the computational space. She posits that morphological and syntactic relations share a property, asymmetry, but diverge with respect to other properties of their primitives, operations, and interface representations. Di Sciullo offers empirical support for her theory with examples from a variety of languages, including English, Modern Greek, African, Romance, Turkish, and Slavic.
About the Author
Anna Maria Di Sciullo is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Quebec at Montreal. She is the author of Théorie et description en grammaire générative, and (with Edwin Williams) On the Definition of the Word (MIT Press). She is the editor of Configurations: Essays on Form and Interpretation, and Projections and Interface Conditions: Essays on Modularity.
"This is an important and revealing work on morphology. It constitutes essential reading for both morphologists and syntacticians, but also for anyone who is seriously interested in theoretical questions about word structure and wants to keep abreast of the latest work in minimalism."
—Angela Ralli, Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Philology (Linguistics Division), University of Patras, Greece
"Written by one of the most active and creative linguists working today, Asymmetry in Morphology explores in depth how important asymmetrical relations are, not only for morphology but for the whole human faculty of language. With admirable authority, this book enters into the contemporary debate on the nature of morphology and the relationship between morphology and syntax."
—Sergio Scalise, Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bologna