Number inflection in AN and NA Italian compounds

M. Silvia Micheli

Abstract

This paper aims at analysing a case of morphological variation in Italian, namely number inflection of two types of Italian compounds: Noun-Adjective (e.g. roccaNforteA ‘stronghold’) and Adjective-Noun (e.g. mezzaAlunaN ‘half-moon’) compounds. These compounds display both double inflection (e.g. cassePLfortiPL ‘safes’, doppiPLvetriPL ‘double glasses’), and external inflection (e.g. roccaSGfortiPL ‘strongholds’, doppioSGpettiPL ‘double-breasted’). Furthermore, in some cases the same compound shows both kinds of inflection, i.e. ‘overabundance’ (Thornton 2012). The analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data from a corpus of Contemporary Italian (i.e. itWaC) reveals that NA compounds do not show a consistent behavior in number inflection, since they are in general ancient and infrequent forms which originate in syntax and, in some cases, undergo lexicalization. On the other hand, AN compounds represent a morphological pattern mostly consisting of (sometimes still productive) series which display a transparent internal structure and a strong tendency to double inflection. Moreover, it appears from the examined data that although in most cases each compound seems to need an ad hoc explanation, frequency (especially for NA compounds) and belonging to a series (for AN compounds) can be considered as the most relevant factors for determining inflection.

Keywords

compounding; Italian; overabundance; number inflection

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26220/mmm.2872

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