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date: 23 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the phenomena identified by those studying markedness, which happen to differ somewhat depending upon whether they reside in the phonological, morphosyntactic, or semantic domain. It specifically evaluates the proposed explanations for markedness correlations, which include references to diagrammatic iconicity, economy, and frequency of use. The article starts by addressing the origins of markedness theory. This theory can be considered successful to the extent that it can be shown that a number of properties correlate with the distinction between unmarked and marked. There is no one overarching explanation for all asymmetries within categories, but rather, a combination of considerations – frequency of use, diachronic source, semantics – produces the tendencies identified under markedness theory in morphology. Moreover, explanations for the classical properties associated with markedness are given. Finally, it is observed that the current theories of language are more emergentist.

Keywords: markedness theory, iconicity, economy, frequency, emergentist, phonology, semantics, morphology

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