Book Review: "Defective paradigms: missing forms and what they tell us"

Andrew Nevins


This book collects a number of papers on the topic of defectiveness, which can be defined as when the morphosyntactic space is not fully realized by the exponent space. An example with which Baerman & Corbett (contributors to this volume henceforth in smallcaps) begin in the introduction to the book is the Russian feminine noun meÄt-á ‘dream', which lacks a genitive plural form. This is presumably because the form is stressed on the desinence in all of its inflected forms, except the genitive plural, which has no desinence. (The authors, unfortunately, do not include stress in their transcriptions or discussion of this example). The generalization about this noun and a number of others in Russian that are defective in the genitive plural (most notably, kochergá ‘poker', about which the author Zoshchenko wrote a well-known short story; Bailyn & Nevins (2008:262)) is that they seem to lack a rhizotonic allomorph. This is, in fact, a very well-chosen example with which to begin the book, as stressed-conditioned allomorphy (and in the special case at hand, a null, or absent allomorph) is a theme that runs through many of the contributions in this book, especially those on the Romance languages, viz. those by Maiden & O'Neill, Boyé & Cabredo Hofherr, and Anderson.

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