Derivational morphology of Italian: Principles for formalization

Carota, F. (2006). Derivational morphology of Italian: Principles for formalization. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 21(SUPPL. 1), 41-53. doi:10.1093/llc/fql007.
The present paper investigates the major derivational strategies underlying the formation of suffixed words in Italian, with the purpose of tackling the issue of their formalization. After having specified the theoretical cognitive premises that orient the work, the interacting component modules of the suffixation process, i.e. morphonology, morphotactics and affixal semantics, are explored empirically, by drawing ample naturally occurring data on a Corpus of written Italian. A special attention is paid to the semantic mechanisms that are involved into suffixation. Some semantic nuclei are identified for the major suffixed word types of Italian, which are due to word formation rules active at the synchronic level, and a semantic configuration of productive suffixes is suggested. A general framework is then sketched, which combines classical finite-state methods with a feature unification-based word grammar. More specifically, the semantic information specified for the affixal material is internalised into the structures of the Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG). The formal model allows us to integrate the various modules of suffixation. In particular, it treats, on the one hand, the interface between morphonology/morphotactics and semantics and, on the other hand, the interface between suffixation and inflection. Furthermore, since LFG exploits a hierarchically organised lexicon in order to structure the information regarding the affixal material, affixal co-selectional restrictions are advatageously constrained, avoiding potential multiple spurious analysis/generations.
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