Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy

Affixes and stem alternants in Latvian nouns: implications for inflectional theory


Baerman (2012) suggests that noun inflection in Latvian presents a problem for Carstairs-McCarthy’s (1994) No Blur Principle, a successor to the Paradigm Economy Hypothesis (Carstairs 1983; 1987; Carstairs-McCarthy 2010). On closer examination, however, this turns out not to be so. Some other languages (such as Nuer) do appear to violate the No Blur Principle. However, when one takes into account the relationship between affixal inflection and stem alternation patterns, Latvian emerges as perfectly compliant. The discussion involves the distinction between patterns of stem alternation that have traditional morphosyntactic functions (such a signalling ‘plural’) and ones that are ‘morphomic’ (Aronoff 1994). The role of thematic vowels and the location of stem-affix boundaries are also relevant.

Keywords: Latvian, inflectional classes, stem alternants, No Blur Principle