Inflectional Change Patterns in Arabic

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Most approaches to inflectional morphology propose a single-default representation. This research on Jordanian Arabic offers an analysis having more than one default inflection. This is accomplished by showing that unlike previous morphological accounts like the single-mechanism model, dual-mechanism model, and the schema model (cf. Pinker, 1990; Rumelhart & McClelland, 1986; and Bybee, 1985), the current research relies upon the ‘openness’ mechanism to define defaultness. Openness is thus defined as the ability of the inflectional process to accept new forms into a language. The corpus used in this research contains diminutives, verbal nouns, derivatives, and loan words used in JA. Other defining factors are modified in this research, such as regularity (rule-based mechanism) and productivity (type frequency). The findings of this research indicate that there are two possible defaults in Jordanian Arabic ordered in terms of openness: the sound feminine plural and the iambic broken plural. The findings have the implication that a language’s grammar can have a multi-default system.

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