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Review of A glossary of morphology

posted August 3rd, 2010

A glossary of morphology. By Laurie Bauer. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2004. Pp. viii, 124. ISBN 9781589010437. $14.95.

Reviewed by Ana R. Luís, University of Coimbra

This handy pocket-size book, with roughly 400 entries, defines both the standard descriptive terminology and theory-internal concepts of morphology using clear and simple language. The entries range from affix-typology and word-formation processes to morphosyntactic categories and meaning-form correspondences, including entries on theoretical models of morphology (e.g. word-and-paradigm, distributed morphology, natural morphology) and theory-internal concepts (e.g. moneme by André Martinet, constructional iconicity from natural morphology, morphome by Mark Aronoff, f-morpheme and l-morpheme by Morris Halle and Alec Marantz). Other entries focus on the place of morphology in grammar (e.g. separation hypothesis, level-ordering, checking theory, mirror principle) and on the psycholinguistic processing of morphology (e.g. connectionism,dual-route model). A praiseworthy feature of the glossary is the extensive cross-referencing between entries.

This book consists of six parts. The glossary (12–115) is preceded by a preface (i–viii) and an introduction (1–9). The preface gives brief instructions on how to use the glossary. The introduction offers a broad survey of the field, giving special attention to the history of morphology and to the development of its terminology. Then, following the glossary, there is a listing of fundamental works (116), a select bibliography of books on morphology (117–22), and an index (123–24). Both the fundamental works and the select bibliography are intentionally short and restricted to authors who, according to Laurie Bauer, occupy a privileged position in the history of morphology.

Although the glossary and the bibliography provide a vast array of fundamental information, some terms are nevertheless missing: morphology is perhaps the most striking absence, although B provides a short definition in the opening paragraph of the introduction. There are no entries for allostem, mobile affix, or ambifix, even though these are by now familiar terms. Contemporary models of morphology, such as realisation-inferential morphology, stratal morphology, and prosodic morphology would have reinforced the author’s claim that ‘morphology is a developing science’ (9). Additionally, important figures in the field, such as Paul Kiparsky, Gregory Stump, John McCarthy, and Alan Prince might have been added to the select bibliography. These gaps, however, are not serious.

Overall, this book clearly succeeds in offering an overview of morphology as a research field ‘at the centre of theoretical attention’ (9). Compared to other morphology glossaries that are available in textbooks (e.g. Aronoff & Fudeman 2005; Bauer 1988; Haspelmath 2002) this book covers a wider range of terms from various branches of morphology and theoretical traditions. As the first glossary of morphology to have ever appeared as a separate publication, it constitutes an excellent reference for any new student of the field, both undergraduate and graduate, as well for nonspecialists who occasionally need fundamental information about morphology.