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Morphophonemic variation in the nominal morphology of Assamese


This paper seeks to analyse and describe the nature of morphophonemic variation in the nominal morphology of Assamese, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Assam. Previous discussions of morphophonemic variation in the language have focused on the phonological aspects of such variation (Goswami and Tamuli, 2003: 410-13). However, the present study seeks to examine the nature and range of phonological variations within morphemes triggered by nominal morphological processes such as (a) deictic inflections for relational nouns, (b) case inflections for nouns and pronouns and (c) nominal word-formation via derivation and compounding.

Identifying the phonological and morphological factors behind the morphophonemic variation in nominal morphology will serve to uncover the patterned nature of the underlying regularities of a major area of Assamese grammar. Moreover, in seeking to align the morphophonemic variations with specific nominal morphological processes rather than treating them in intrinsic phonological terms, this study proposes to highlight the interdependent functioning of the levels of analysis. Such functioning is evident in instances of phonological variations within morphemes that serve to mark different grammatical functions in the language. In addition to such descriptive considerations, the range of variations and their associated morphological processes can also shed light on specific aspects of diachronic change when they are cross-linguistically compared with cognate languages.

The study will be based mainly on corpus data using the empirical methodology of corpus linguistics. Supplementary introspective data will also be used where necessary.

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