Lexical integrity and suspended affixation in two types of denominal predicates in Korean

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Central to the debate on the demarcation of morphology and syntax is the position staked out by the Lexicalist Hypothesis, which holds that morphology and syntax are distinct systems which interface with each other in a particular way. Proponents of the Lexicalist Hypothesis point to a suite of diagnostics collectively known as lexical integrity tests (Bresnan and Mchombo 1995) as evidence pointing to the fundamental difference between morphology and syntax. The tests revolve around the apparent failure of principles of phrasal syntax at the threshold of words. If morphology and syntax constitute a unified rule system, as assumed in current approaches such as Distributed Morphology, such failure is not predicted. It is surprising therefore that lexical integrity has not played a significant role in arguments for Distributed Morphology (Lieber and Scalise 2007). The purpose of this paper is to introduce two types of denominal predicates in Korean, which are distinguished by the fact that lexical integrity is observed in one but not the other type. I explore how the behaviors of the two classes of denominal predicates can be modeled using the theoretical and empirical machinery of current DM, in particular, the distinction between roots and words. While this is a welcome result, it turns out that DM predicts that more languages should behave like Korean in allowing massive violations of lexical integrity. I provide an analysis of the differences between languages like Korean that allow selective access of word-internal structure by syntactic principles and languages like English where such access is prohibited by focusing on the mechanics of Vocabulary Insertion and complex head formation. The paper concludes with the implications of the analysis of the two types of predicates in Korean for both lexicalist and DM architectures of morphology and syntax interaction.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages45
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • denominal predicates
  • distributed morphology
  • lexical integrity
  • suspended affixation
  • vocabulary insertion


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