Morphological Complexity in Maltese:
A divergence from canonicity
MMM8
Maris Camilleri
[email protected]
Morphological Complexity
Paradigm-Internal
Binyanim system
-----------------------Focuses on what
differences
exist from the
canonical paradigm
-------------------------Issues related with
the traditional
perceptions on the
Maltese binyanim
system
Lexical material
Different
Same
paradigm paradigm
different
same
lexical
lexical
one form
one cell
one form
one cell
Inflectional Material
Different
paradigm
Same
paradigm
same
different
grammatical grammatical
one form
one cell
one form
one cell
laqat ‘hit’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
PERF
IMPERF
lqat-t
lqat-t
laqat
laqt-et
lqat-na
lqat-t-u
laqt-u
n-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
j-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
n-o-lqt-u
t-o-lqt-u
j-o-lqt-u
laqat ‘hit’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
PERF
IMPERF
lqat-t
lqat-t
laqat
laqt-et
lqat-na
lqat-t-u
laqt-u
n-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
j-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
n-o-lqt-u
t-o-lqt-u
j-o-lqt-u
laqat ‘hit’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
PERF
IMPERF
lqat-t
lqat-t
laqat
laqt-et
lqat-na
lqat-t-u
laqt-u
n-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
j-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
n-o-lqt-u
t-o-lqt-u
j-o-lqt-u
laqat ‘hit’
PERF
IMPERF
1.SG
lqat-t
2.SG
3.SG.M
lqat-t
n-o-lqot
t-o-lqot
j-o-lqot
3.SG.F
laqat
laqt-et
1.PL
lqat-na
2.PL
3.PL
lqat-t-u
laqt-u
t-o-lqot
n-o-lqt-u
t-o-lqt-u
j-o-lqt-u
ħarab ‘escape’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
PERF
IMPERF
ħrab-t
ħrab-t
ħarab
ħarb-et
ħrab-na
ħrab-t-u
ħarb-u
n-a-ħrab
t-a-ħrab
j-a-ħrab
t-a-ħrab
n-a-ħarb-u
t-a-ħarb-u
j-a-ħarb-u
ħarab ‘escape’
PERF
IMPERF
1.SG
ħrab-t
n-a-ħrab
2.SG
3.SG.M
ħrab-t
t-a-ħrab
j-a-ħrab
3.SG.F
ħarab
ħarb-et
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
ħrab-na
ħrab-t-u
ħarb-u
t-a-ħrab
n-a-ħarb-u
t-a-ħarb-u
j-a-ħarb-u
żar ‘visit’
mar ‘go’
PERF
IMPERF
1.SG
mor-t
m-mūr
ż-żūr
2.SG
mor-t
t-mūr
żār
j-żūr
3.SG.M mār
3.SG.F
żār-et
ż-żūr
3.SG.F
marr-et t-mūr
1.PL
żor-na
n-żūr-u
1.PL
mor-na m-morr-u
2.PL
żor-t-u
ż-żūr-u
2.PL
mor-t-u t-morr-u
3.PL
żār-u
j-żūr-u
3.PL
marr-u j-morr-u
PERF
IMPERF
1.SG
żor-t
n-żūr
2.SG
żor-t
3.SG.M
j-mūr
 syllable-structure alternations
e.g.
laqat – laqt – lqat
 syllable-structure alternations
e.g.
laqat – laqt – lqat
 ablaut-changes
e.g.
mār – mūr
 syllable-structure alternations
e.g.
laqat – laqt – lqat
 ablaut-changes
e.g.
mār – mūr
 stress-shifts
e.g.
wàqaf – waqàf
 syllable-structure alternations
e.g.
laqat – laqt – lqat
 ablaut-changes
e.g.
mār – mūr
 stress-shifts
e.g.
wàqaf – waqàf
 ablaut-compounding
e.g.
wèħel – weħìl
 syllable-structure alternations
e.g.
laqat – laqt – lqat
 ablaut-changes
e.g.
mār – mūr
 stress-shifts
e.g.
wàqaf – waqàf
 stem-extensions
e.g
ħass – ħassē
1 1^2
ħass ‘feel’
ħass ‘feel’
PERF
PERF
ħassej-t
2 3.SG.M ħass
3.SG.F ħass-et
3 3.PL
ħassē-w
1 1^2
2 3.SG.M ħass
3.SG.F
ħass-et
3.PL
ħass-u
IMPERF
IMPERF
4 3.SG.M j-ħoss
3.PL
j-ħoss-u
ħassej-t
3 3.SG.M j-ħoss
3.PL
j-ħoss-u
ħass ‘feel’
ħass ‘feel’
PERF
PERF
1
1^2
ħassej-t
1
1^2
ħassej-t
2
3.SG.M
ħass
2
3.SG.M
ħass
3.SG.F
ħass-et
3.SG.F
ħass-et
3.PL
ħassē-w
3.PL
ħass-u
3
IMPERF
IMPERF
4
3.SG.M
j-ħoss
3.PL
j-ħoss-u
3
3.SG.M
j-ħoss
3.PL
j-ħoss-u
sam ‘fast’
sam ‘fast’
PERF
PERF
1
1^2
som-t
1
1^2
somej-t
2
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
sām
sām-et
2
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
sām
sām-et
3.PL
sām-u
3
3.PL
samē-w
3.SG.M
IMPERF
j-sūm
3.SG.M
IMPERF
j-sūm
3
4
What to do with this non-canonicity:
What to do with this non-canonicity:
GENERAL
• Understand the complexity existing in
the morphological component
• Understand the relations and patterns
involved across and within paradigms
What to do with this non-canonicity:
L-Specific
 Classify Maltese verbs on the basis of
their surface representation
What to do with this non-canonicity:
 Classify Maltese verbs on the basis of
their surface representation
 See how Semitic Maltese differs
from non-Semitic Maltese, if at all
What to do with this non-canonicity:
 Classify Maltese verbs on the basis of
their surface representation
 See how Semitic Maltese differs
from non-Semitic Maltese, if at all
 This morphological complexity also
displays dialectal variation
What to do with this non-canonicity:
 Classify Maltese verbs on the basis of
their surface representation
 See how Semitic Maltese differs
from non-Semitic Maltese, if at all
 This morphological complexity also
displays dialectal variation
 Contribute to the Semitic literature,
the importance of stem analyses, and
what can we do with them
Maltese binyanim system:
 Derivation
Traditional scholars:
•
•
•
•
Borg (1988),
Borg & Azzopardi-Alexander (1997),
Borg & Mifsud (1999),
Aquilina (1973)
Maltese binyanim system:
 Derivation
Traditional scholars:
•
•
•
•
Borg (1988),
Borg & Azzopardi-Alexander (1997),
Borg & Mifsud (1999),
Aquilina (1973)
 Active-Passive
Maltese binyanim system:
 Derivation
Traditional scholars:
•
•
•
•
Borg (1988),
Borg & Azzopardi-Alexander (1997),
Borg & Mifsud (1999),
Aquilina (1973)
 Active-Passive
• Hoberman & Aronoff (2003)
DIALECT
PERF
IMPERF
sieħ ’call’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
siħ-t
siħ-t
sieħ
sieħ-et
siħ-na
siħ-t-u
sieħ-u
n-sejjaħ vs. *n-sieħ
s-sejjaħ
j-sejjaħ
s-sejjaħ
n-sejħ-u
s-sejħ-u
j-sejħ-u
I
II
DIALECT
PERF
IMPERF
sejjaħ ’call’
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
siħ-t ~ sejjaħ-t
siħ-t ~ sejjaħ-t
sieħ ~ sejjaħ
sieħ-et ~ sejħ-et
siħ-na ~ sejjaħ-na
siħ-t-u ~ sejjaħ-t-u
sieħ-u ~ sejħ-u
n-sejjaħ vs. *n-sieħ
s-sejjaħ
j-sejjaħ
s-sejjaħ
n-sejħ-u
s-sejħ-u
j-sejħ-u
ħabbeb ‘cause to love’
PERF
IMPERF
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
1.SG
2.SG
3.SG.M
3.SG.F
1.PL
2.PL
3.PL
ħabbej-t I ~
ħabbej-t
~
ħabbeb II
ħabb-et [I/II]
ħabbej-na I
ħabbej-t-u I
ħabbē-w [I/II]
n-ħabbeb II
t-ħabbeb
j-ħabbeb
t-ħabbeb
n-ħabb-u
t-ħabb-u
j-ħabb-u
ħabbib-t II
ħabbib-t
~ ħabbib-na II
~ ħabbib-t-u II
1.
*Ħabbej[I]-t-hom
love-1.SG-3.PL.ACC
ma’
with
xulxin
each other
*I love them with each other
2.
Ħabbej[II]-t-hom/ħabbib-t-hom ma’ xulxin
made.love-1.SG-3.PL.ACC
with each other
I made them love each other
ħasel ‘wash’ I
- n-ħasel ? VII
ħasel ‘wash’ I
- n-ħasel ? VII
3a. It-tarbija
n-ħasl-et
DEF-baby.SG.F
mrkr-washed-3.SG.F
#The baby washed
The baby was washed
ħasel ‘wash’ I
- n-ħasel ? VII
3a. It-tarbija
n-ħasl-et
DEF-baby.SG.F
mrkr-washed-3.SG.F
#The baby washed
The baby was washed
b.
It-tifel
DEF-boy
The boy washed
n-ħasel
mrkr-washed
ħasel ‘wash’ I
- n-ħasel ? VII
3a. It-tarbija
DEF-baby.SG.F
#The baby washed
The baby was washed
n-ħasl-et
mrkr-washed-3.SG.F
b. It-tifel
DEF-boy
The boy washed
n-ħasel
mrkr-washed
c. It-tifel
DEF-boy
li
COMP
b’barmil
żebgħa
with.bucket
paint
fuq-u
on-3.SG.M.ACC
n-ħasel
mrkr-washed
waqa’
fell.3.SG.M
The boy was washed with a bucket of paint that fell on him
t- NOT PASSIVE
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-kellem ‘speak’
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-kellem ‘speak’
a. t-kellem ma’ ‘with’…
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-kellem ‘speak’
a. t-kellem ma’ ‘with’…
b. *t-kellem minn X ‘from X’
(as agent by-phrase)
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-għallem ‘learn’
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-għallem ‘learn’
a. t-għallem
j-i-lgħab
ma’ l-oħrajn
VAL-mrkr-learn.3.SG.M 3.SG.M-play with DEF-others
‘He learnt how to play with others’
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-għallem ‘learn’
a. t-għallem
j-i-lgħab
ma’ l-oħrajn
VAL-mrkr-learn.3.SG.M 3.SG.M-play with DEF-others
‘He learnt how to play with others’
b. t-għallem
minn
omm-u
VAL-mrkr-learn from
mother-3.SG.M.ACC
*‘He was taught from his mother’
t- NOT PASSIVE
 t-għallem ‘learn’
a. t-għallem
j-i-lgħab
ma’ l-oħrajn
VAL-mrkr-learn.3.SG.M 3.SG.M-play with DEF-others
‘He learnt how to play with others’
b. t-għallem
minn
omm-u
VAL-mrkr-learn from
mother-3.SG.M.ACC
*He was taught from his mother’
c.
t-għallem
mingħand
VAL-mrkr-learn from
‘He learnt from his mother’
omm-u
mother-3.SG.M.ACC
t- NOT PASSIVE
•
•
•
•
t-kellem ‘speak’
t-għallem ‘learn’
t-fisser ‘mean’
t-fewwaq ‘burp’
Tfisser
≠ ġie
m-fisser
‘came.3.SG.M PASS.prt-explain’
Tfisser ≠
ġie
m-fisser
‘came.3.SG.M PASS.prt-explain’
tgħallem ≠ ġie mgħallem
‘came.3.SG.M PASS.prt-thought’
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence
 ta ‘give’ – I
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence
 ta ‘give’ – I
 n-agħta ‘was given’ – VII
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence
 ta ‘give’ – I
 nagħta ‘was given’ – VII
 ġie mogħti ‘was given’ – Periphrastic
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence




ta ‘give’ – I
nagħta ‘was given’ – VII
ġie mogħti ‘was given’ – Periphrastic
ġie nagħtat
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence
 ta ‘give’ – I
 nagħta ‘was given’ – VII
 ġie mogħti ‘was given’ – Periphrastic
 ġie nagħtat
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence
 ta ‘give’ – I
 nagħta ‘was given’ – VII
 ġie mogħti ‘was given’ – Periphrastic
 ġie nagħtat
n- NOT PASSIVE: Real evidence




ta ‘give’ – I
nagħta ‘was given’ – VII
ġie mogħti ‘was given’ – Periphrastic
ġie nagħtat
References:
 Aquilina, J. (1973). The structure of Maltese: A mixed
grammar and vocabulary. Royal University of Malta.
 Borg, A. (1988). Ilsienna. Ħas Sajjied: Malta.
 Borg, A. & Azzopardi-Alexander, M. (1997). Maltese.
Routledge: New York.
 Borg, A. & Mifsud, M. (1999). Il-forom (Binyanim) in
Maltese: Inflection or derivation? MMM2,Malta.
 Corbett, G. (2005). The canonical approach in typology.
In Z. Frajzyngier, A. Hodges, & D. S. Rood (eds.)
Linguistic Diversity and Language Theories (Studies in
Language Companion Series 72), 25-49. Amsterdam:
Benjamins.
 Corbett, G. (2007). Canonical typology, suppletion and
possible words. Language, 83, 8-42.
 Corbett, G. (2011). Higher order exceptionality in inflectional
morphology. In H. J. Simon & H. Wiese (eds.) Expecting the
unexpected: Exceptions in grammar (pp. 107-137). Berlin:
Mouton de Gruyter.
 Hoberman, R. D. & Aronoff, M. (2003). The verbal
morphology of Maltese. In J. Shimron (ed.) Language
processing and acquisition in languages of Semitic, rootbased morphology (pp. 61-78). John Benjamins:
Amsterdam/Philadelphia.
 Stump, G. (2006). Heteroclisis and paradigm linkage.
Language, 82(2), 279-322.
 Thornton, A. M. (in press). Overabundance (multiple cells
realizing the same cell): a noncanonical phenomenon in
Italian verb morphology. To appear in M. Goldbach et al.
(eds.), Morphological Auonomy: Perspectives from Romance
Inflectional Morphology. Oxford: OUP.
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