Synopses & Reviews
In Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology, David Embick offers the first detailed examination of morphology and phonology from a phase-cyclic point of view (that is, one that takes into account recent developments in Distributed Morphology and the Minimalist program) and the only recent detailed treatment of allomorphy, a phenomenon that is central to understanding how the grammar of human language works. In addition to making new theoretical proposals about morphology and phonology in terms of a cyclic theory, Embick addresses a schism in the field between phonological theories such as Optimality Theory and other (mostly syntactic) theories such as those associated with the Minimalist program. He presents sustained empirical arguments that the Localist view of grammar associated with the Minimalist program (and Distributed Morphology in particular) is correct, and that the Globalism espoused by many forms of Optimality Theory is incorrect. In the "derivational versus nonderivational" debate in linguistic theory, Embick's arguments come down squarely on the derivational side. Determining how to make empirical comparisons between such large positions, and the different frameworks that embody them, is at the heart of the book. Embick argues that patterns of allomorphy implicate general questions about locality and specific questions about the manner in which (morpho)syntax relates to (morpho)phonology. Allomorphy thus provides a crucial test case for comparing Localist and Globalist approaches to grammar.
"Embick's masterful treatment of allomorphy cuts right to the core of a complex area, elucidating with rare clarity key empirical considerations that bear directly on some of the most fundamental questions of the organization and nature of grammar. This insightful work not only lays out a persuasive argument for a localist, serialist architecture, but by clearly identifying what is at stake in the major debates, it should play a significant role in setting the course of future theorizing. With fine attention to empirical detail and a broad perspective linking syntax, morphology, and phonology, this is interfaces research at its finest." Jonathan David Bobaljik, University of Connecticut The MIT Press
An argument that patterns of allomorphy reveal that morphology and phonology behave in a way that provides evidence for a Localist theory of grammar.
About the Author
David Embick is Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.