Inheritance and Inflectional Morphology

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Page : 81 pages

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The inheritance framework originates in the field of artificial intelligence. It was incorporated first into theories of computational linguistics, and in the last two decades, it has been applied to theoretical linguistics. Inheritance refers to the sharing of properties: when a group of items have a common property, each item is said to inherit this property. The properties may be mapped in tree format with nodes arranged vertically. The most general (i.e. the most widely shared, unmarked) properties are found at the highest nodes, and the most specific (marked) information is found at the lowest nodes. Inheritance is particularly useful when applied to inflectional morphology due to its focus on the generalizations within and across paradigms. As such, it serves as an alternative to traditional paradigms, which may simplify the translation process; and provides a visual representation of the structure of the language's morphology. Such a mapping also enables cross-linguistic morphological comparison. In this dissertation, I apply the inheritance framework to the nominal inflectional morphology of Old High German, Latin, Early New High German, and Koine Greek. The corpus consists of parallel biblical passages in each language which will serve as the basis for comparison. The trees may be used as a translation aid to those reading these texts as an accompaniment to or substitute for traditional paradigms. Moreover, I aim to shed light on the structural similarities and differences between the four languages by means of the inheritance trees.

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