Productivity and English derivation: A corpus-based study

Baayen, H., & Lieber, R. (1991). Productivity and English derivation: A corpus-based study. Linguistics, 29(5), 801-843. doi:10.1515/ling.1991.29.5.801.
The notion of productivity is one which is central to the study of morphology. It is a notion about which linguists frequently have intuitions. But it is a notion which still remains somewhat problematic in the literature on generative morphology some 15 years after Aronoff raised the issue in his (1976) monograph. In this paper we will review some of the definitions and measures of productivity discussed in the generative and pregenerative literature. We will adopt the definition of productivity suggested by Schultink (1961) and propose a number of statistical measures of productivity whose results, when applied to a fixed corpus, accord nicely with our intuitive estimates of productivity, and which shed light on the quantitative weight of linguistic restrictions on word formation rules. Part of our purpose here is also a very simple one: to make available a substantial set of empirical data concerning the productivity of some of the major derivational affixes of English.
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