Notes on Minimalism

Morpheme Ordering and Syntax

The fact that the ordering of affixes tells us nothing about syntax has often been noted by morphologists and some syntacticians. This implies that there is no hope of predicting the positioning of affixes by the same principles which predict the position of words in syntactic structures. Ouhalla (1991), for example, points out that while agreement features are usually realized outside tense features in IE languages, in Berber they are realized inside tense features:

ur-at-y-xdel Neg-Fut-3MSg-arrive "will arrive"

According to Speas (1991) in Navajo, which has subject-object agreement, the object and subject markers circumfix the aspect marker:

shíínígháád shi-Ø-i-ni-gháád 1SgObj-Asp-Pst-2SgSub-shake 'you shook me'

Anderson (1992: 125) shows that while the possessive marker in Finnish appears outside the case marker, in closely related Vogul, it appears inside the case marker.

Finnish: kirjo-i-ssa-ni book-Pl-Ines-Poss 'in my books' Vogul: haap-an-um-t boat-Pl-Poss-Ines 'in my boats' Such cases are easily multiplied and seldom reflect any relation to the order of full words in phrases.