Andrea D. Sims is Associate Professor at The Ohio State University (USA). Much of her work focuses on the internal organization of inflection class systems (defectiveness and irregularity, syncretism, inflectional complexity), and factors that influence its emergence, reinforcement, and generalization. She is author of Inflectional Defectiveness (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and co-author of Understanding Morphology, 2ed (Routledge, 2010).
Thinking Locally, Acting Globally: The Importance of Localized Analogy for The Emergence of Morphological Organization
When speakers need to predict an inflected form of some word, the prediction they make is known to be sensitive to the behavior of lexical neighbors (‘nearby’ words in the lexicon). In this sense, inflectional generalization is analogical and local in nature. At the same time, the relationship between these local-level generalizations and the system-level organization of inflectional systems is not straightforward. While functionalist pressures and learning biases have become popular modes of explanation for the emergence of system-level organization, in this paper I argue that a full understanding requires more attention to the local environments in which generalization occurs. In turn, this requires precise quantitative tools for describing inflectional organization and I introduce an approach based on the idea of inflectional systems as networks.