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Projects: Past and Present

Autonomous Morphology in Diachrony: comparative evidence from the Romance languages

A project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant AH/D503396/1)

October 2006 - December 2010

'Irregular verbs' occupy a fundamental place in the history of the Romance verb and pose major theoretical problems for linguists concerned with morphology and with language change. This project explores the evolution through time, and variation through space, of what could informally be described as 'organized nonsense' in the verb. Taking the history of the inflectional paradigm of the verb across the Romance languages (including thousands of little-known dialects) we explore the origins, extent and nature of recurrent structural patterns in the verb-system which, despite lacking any apparent 'raison d'être', survive, spread and are reinforced through time (and how they die out, when they do). We suggest that such phenomena are far more pervasive and important determinants of morphological change than is traditionally assumed, and discuss why they are persistent over time.


The Romance noun. A comparative-historical study of plural formation

A Project funded by The Leverhulme Trust

We are looking at the morphological expression of number on nouns, across the Romance languages — in other words, how the shape of a noun indicates plural as opposed to singular. We aim first and foremost to describe what the forms of both plural and singular are, and then to seek answers to the question why those forms occur in the way they do.