[FUNKNET] Upper limits to morpheme length

Marianne Mithun mithun at LINGUISTICS.UCSB.EDU
Sat Dec 21 18:37:13 UTC 2013

Dan, you haven't said what kind of morphemes. For a start, there's probably 
going to be a difference between roots and affixes. And affixes tend to be 
small because of all of the processes involved in their development.


--On Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:10 PM +0000 "Everett, Daniel" 
<DEVERETT at bentley.edu> wrote:

> Please excuse the double-posting.
> I haven't worked on this stuff for a while, so I will undoubtedly show my
> ignorance of some large body of research, but I was wondering (due to a
> question from a colleague) whether there is any work that tries to derive
> a maximum morpheme length (I wouldn't think this would be the way to
> address the issue, frankly, but I could be quite wrong).
> As the question was put to me: "It seems to me that almost all morphemes
> are quite short?probably not easy to find one with e.g. 12 phoneme
> segments.  The question is is there anything in known phonological
> theories which predict this?or is it just assumed that morphemes can be
> of any length and that the reason there are none of length e.g. 624, 578
> is simply that they would be unlearnable?  The latter would be my ideal
> view, just as the reason that no one uses a sentence of length 624,578
> words has to do with practical performance limitations."
> I know that there is work on "resizing theory" (Pycha 2008) and various
> other approaches linking morphology and metrical structure. But those
> approaches so far as I know offer no principled upper bound to morpheme
> length.
> Any help would be appreciated.
> Happy holidays to all,
> Dan Everett

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