Morphology - Unit Four - Lesson No. 23

Item-and-Arrangement vs. Item-and-Process

Hockett (1954) distinguishes between two basic approaches to morphology, which he calls item-and-arrangement and item-and-process. Both are associated with American structuralist linguists.

Item-and-arrangement views each language as a set of elements and the patterns in which these elements occur. Morphology is then seen as the arrangement of these morphemes into a particular order or structure. For example, books results from the concatenation of the two morphemes: book and –s (Aronoff & Fudeman 2011). Item-and-arrangement sets up the items (morphemes and allomorphs) and states their distribution (Harold Schiffman in a website ).

The Item-and-process approach gives no independent status to the items, which arise instead through the construction of the patterns (a process sometimes called Word Formation Rule; WFR for short). As its name suggests, item-and-process is an approach to morphology in which complex words result from the operation of processes on simpler words. According to item-and-process model, we can say that books results when the lexeme book undergoes the function “make plural”. In regular cases, this function will add the segment /-z/ (cf. photos, lions), which is realized as /-s/ after most voiceless segments (cf. giraffes), and as /-iz/ after sibilants and affricates (cf. roses).

Both item-and-arrangement and item-and-process are almost equivalent to one another mathematically. Everything you can express in item-and-arrangement can be expressed in item-and-process, and almost anything you can express in item-and-process can be expressed in item-and-arrangement (Aronoff & Fudeman 2011).

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