Stump Publishes New Linguistics Book

By Gail Hairston 

(Jan. 19, 2016) — Cambridge University Press recently published University of Kentucky linguistics Professor Gregory Stump’s new book, “Inflectional Paradigms: Content and Form at the Syntax-Morphology Interface.”

Stump examines mismatches between words' content and their form, drawing on evidence from a wide range of languages, including French, Hua, Hungarian, Kashmiri, Latin, Nepali, Noon, Old Norse, Sanskrit, Turkish, Twi and others.

Language students are often asked to memorize a word’s paradigm or its full inventory of inflected forms. Despite the educational usefulness of paradigms, linguists have sometimes dismissed them as having no real importance for understanding the structure of human languages. 

In his new book, however, Stump argues for the opposite conclusion, demonstrating that paradigms “serve indispensably to mediate between words’ grammatical function and their internal form.”

He draws particular attention to the variety of ways in which the form and function of inflected words can be “out of sync.”

“These mismatches between form and function provide crucial insights into the fundamental organization of human language,” he explained.

In his book, Stump proposes a theoretical architecture that provides a single, unified explanation for the range of apparent incongruities observable in these mismatches. He supports his conclusions with clear and precise analyses of morphological evidence from a number of languages, some of them relatively familiar, like French, Hungarian and Latin, and others quite unfamiliar, including the Hua language of New Guinea, the Sanskrit, Kashmiri and Nepali languages of South Asia, the Noon language of Senegal, and the Twi language of Ghana. 

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