• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Allomorphy
quickinfo

Allomorphy is the name of the phenomenon that a morpheme has different variants, between which there is a complementary distribution, without this variation affecting its meaning. This section gives a short general introduction to the subject.

readmore

Allomorphy is the name of the phenomenon that a morpheme has different variants, between which there is a complementary distribution, without this variation affecting its meaning. It is very common in language. Take the word goed/ɡuəd/good, which has the variants [ɡuət] and [ɡuəd], as in it komt wol wer goed[ɡuət]it will turn out all right(lit. it comes well again good) and it goede[ɡuədə]antwurdthe correct answer(lit. the good (inflected form) answer). Obstruents are voiceless in word-final position in Frisian (see Final Devoicing), so the variation between [ɡuət] and [ɡuədə] fits in a general pattern of alternation. In cases like these allomorphy lends itself to an account in general phonological terms, without reference to the morpheme goed itself.

There are also cases of allomorphy which do not lend themselves to such an account, i.e. which do not involve phonological variation. Take the personal pronoun hy/hi/he, which has the clitic variant er/ər/, as in hy komt út Fryslânhe is from Friesland (lit. he comes out of Friesland) and komt er út Fryslân?is he from Friesland?(lit. comes he out of Friesland?). There is a complementary distribution between hy and er, and they also have a semantic relation, but not a formal one, so both forms must be assumed to be part of the Frisian lexicon.

The clitic er, in turn, has the variant der, with which it is in free variation, although only in specific contexts. Because they share the part /ər/, there is a formal relation between er and der, which should be accounted for. This might be done in a 'dynamic' way, by means of a procedure which augments er with initial /d/ in certain contexts. This procedure, however, would have a very small scope − one morpheme, to be precise −, so it would not express a valid and significant phonological generalization. The relation between er and der therefore is better expressed in a 'static' way, either by a disjunctive lexical representation or a relational statement of some sort.

References:
    Suggestions for further reading ▼
    phonology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    morphology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    syntax
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    • 4.1.3. Other constructions
      [74%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 4 Projection of noun phrases III: binominal constructions > 4.1. Binominal constructions without a preposition
    • 5.2.1. Prepositions
      [73%] Dutch > Syntax > Adpositions and adpositional phrases > 5 R-pronominalization and R-words > 5.2. Lexical restrictions on the formation of pronominal PPs
    • 6.2.2. Universal quantifiers
      [73%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 6 Numerals and quantifiers > 6.2. Quantifiers
    • Introduction
      [73%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases
    • 5.2.3.5. Hebben ''to have'' + infinitive
      [73%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 5 Projection of verb phrases IIIb:Argument and complementive clauses > 5.2. Infinitival argument clauses > 5.2.3. Bare infinitivals
    • Mood
      [73%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification
    • Root semantics
      [73%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification > 1.5. Tense, modality and aspect > 1.5.2. Modality
    • Modal chains
      [72%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification > 1.5. Tense, modality and aspect > 1.5.2. Modality
    • Tense
      [71%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification > 1.5. Tense, modality and aspect
    • Finite declarative complement clauses: Construction forms
      [71%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 5. Complement Clauses > 5.1. Finite declarative complement clauses
    Show more ▼
    cite
    print