The Empty Morpheme Entailment


The Empty Morpheme Entailment follows from the fact that derivation and affixation are distinct operations under LMBM. Beard (1995 chapter 4) elaborates on it. In its strongest form, it predicts that no meaning can be associated with any grammatical morpheme. Various types of evidence can be brought to bear on this question. First, there are many affixes in IE languages which have remarkably unrelated meanings, even genders. The French suffix -eur, for instance, is associated with the masculine Subjective nominalization, e.g. le fum-eur 'smoker', le chant-eur 'singer'; however, it also marks feminine deadjectival nouns: grand-eur 'size, largeness', moit-eur 'moisture', as well as adjectives migrat-eur 'migratory'. To define this situation as homonymy would allow the number of affixes to explode on purely theoretical grounds. Zero morphology also speaks to the Empty Morpheme Entailment. English is similar to all IE languages in that phonological marking is often omitted altogether: to cook : a cook, red (A) : red (N). In these instances the affix cannot bear any grammatical category or semantic meaning since there is no affix.