Carol Fehringer: Nominale Diminutiva bei Komposita im Schwäbischen: ein „Words and Rules“-Ansatz
This paper investigates the occurrence of diminutive nouns in the non-head position of noun-noun compounds in the Swabian dialect (e. g. Draibleskuchen ‘currant cake’) in the light of current morphological theory; specifically with regard to the debate around symbolic versus connectionist models of the mental lexicon. Symbolic “dual mechanism” models assume that morphologically complex forms that are irregular are stored in the lexicon and retrieved as whole words, whereas complex forms that are regular are derived by productive symbolic rules. Thus, irregular inflection can serve as input to derivational and compounding rules within the lexicon but regular inflection cannot, as the rules deriving regular inflectional forms operate after derivation and compounding have taken place. Connectionist models, rather than appealing to the traditional notion of linguistic rules, claim that inflectional systems can be represented in terms of associative networks. In these models, regularity is an effect of the statistical dominance of stored complex forms. For these “single mechanism” models the representation of morphologically complex forms is the same for both regular and irregular morphology. Such an approach assumes that all inflectional forms can potentially serve as input to derivational and compounding rules, irrespective of whether they are regular or irregular. Swabian diminutives are theoretically interesting in that their plural form, which is produced by changing the vowel of the diminutive suffix (e. g. Kendle – Kendla ‘little child – little children’), never appears in the non-head position of compounds. As this diminutive plural rule is extremely regular, it suggests that diminutive plurals in Swabian are derived by a productive symbolic rule that applies after compounding has taken place, which supports a “dual mechanism” approach. Furthermore, it is suggested here that semiotic considerations such as the uniformity and transparency of marking, alongside type frequency, play an important role in the decision on whether a morphologically complex form is stored in the lexicon or derived by rule.