Maris Camilleri

Stems as multiple exponents in Maltese and morphological complexity

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This paper is concerned with the behaviour of alternating stems within Maltese verbal paradigms. In their non-canonical alternating behaviour, multiple stems come to realize morphosyntactic and morphosemantic features. This realization is present alongside the inflectional/grammatical information realized via affixal exponents. Different stemalternation patterns are thus taken to represent distinct ways with which grammatical information can be realized through the stem, resulting in a non-affixal dimension to verbal inflection. Other data is provided to illustrate how in Maltese the stem is additionally special as it can interact with both inflectional and derivational morphology, exhibiting simultaneous multiple exponent relations. When interacting with derivational morphology, argument-structure differences are realized through the stem. In assessing this behaviour, where one finds increased interactions between the stem and the affix as these compete to realize the different morphosyntactic and morphosemantic features in the paradigmatic cell, at times resulting in multiple exponence, we explore morphology's autonomous role. Competition is proportionally increased as the number of redundant stem-alternations, attributed to morphological-stipulations, increases. This interaction consequently results in less morphomic stem-realizations and additional feature coherence.


  • Maltese
  • Morphological Complexity
  • Multiple Exponence
  • Non-affixal inflection


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