Construction Grammar and the description of Czech word-formation

Jakub Sláma (Czech Academy of Sciences)
Czech word-formation is dominated by the morpheme-based onomasiological approach developed mainly by Miloš Dokulil. It is not reflected, however, that the concept of morpheme has been criticized for decades, and recent empirical research in various subfields of linguistics and cognitive science shows quite clearly that the morpheme can hardly be seen as a cognitively plausible elementary unit of morphology. It is usually not reflected either that the morphological theory worldwide has provided many alternative views of morphology, some of them arguably more adequate than the traditional Czech approach.  The talk will briefly discuss some of the problems of the traditional approach and introduce Construction Grammar (and the attempts to analyze morphology couched within this framework) as a viable alternative. It will mention some morphology-related arguments for a constructionist account of morphology from cognitive science and proceed to present arguments for the constructionist framework based on Czech data pertaining to word-formation. These arguments rely mainly on a) derivation-inflection interactions in Czech, b) the positional boundness of word-formation units, c) the non-compositional meaning (and yet the productivity) of certain morphological constructions, d) the impossibility to describe certain productive processes (e.g. those in the realm of prosodic morphology) purely with reference to morphemes, and e) various instances of complex constructions (zooming in especially on prefixation-valency interactions) which showcase that it is not sufficient to describe only the behavior of morphemes that are part of these more complex constructions.  The talk calls for the reevaluation of Czech word-formation and attempts to illustrate that the above-mentioned phenomena cannot be adequately described on a morpheme-based account, while the constructionist approach does not suffer from this deficiency.
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