Happy New Year, everyone! I am reading an article by G.Corbett on canonical morphosyntactic features. He mentiones two kinds of inflection: inherent and contextual. These notions look to me somewhat alike the distinction between interpretable and uninterpretable features in the generative framework. I question whether the things are realy so, are the both dichotomies parallel and concerning the same phenomena? Thank you.

  • Are you (ultimately) asking about Booij 1996 "Inherent versus contextual inflection and the split morphology hypothesis"?
    – user6726
    Jan 2, 2018 at 20:26
  • @user6726 probably; at least it seems so. Jan 2, 2018 at 20:40

1 Answer 1


Geert Booij defines inherent inflection as “inflection of a word that is not required by its syntactic context” whereas by contextual inflection he understands “inflection that is required by the syntactic context in which a word occurs” (Booij 2007). He gives some examples, e.g. he argues that case markings on nouns are contextual but the present tense on the verb is inherent inflection.

It seems that inherent inflection is indeed equivalent to interpretable features in MP (understood as those features that have an effect on semantic interpretation, e.g. Adger 2003), whereas contextual inflection is equivalent to uninterpretable features.

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