On morphological alternation and late insertion

Spanish Analogical Strong Preterits under the microscope



This paper discusses morphological alternations in the so-called strong preterits in Spanish. The starting point is the variation phenomenon known as Analogical Strong Preterits, which is characterized by the formation of 3PL on the basis of 3SG, adding the exponent /n/: dij-o-n, instead of general dije-ro-n ‘they said’. Although this is the way in which the 3PL is obtained in the rest of the paradigm, Spanish preterits regularly present the segment -ro- at the left of -n. The varieties with Analogical Strong Preterits preserve the segment -ro- in all the other verbs (canta-ro-n ‘they sang’), but shows this particular form in the case of strong preterits. Within the framework of Distributed Morphology, we explore the morphological alternations found in relation to verbal stems (dec-/dij- for √SAY) and functional morphology (-ro/-o for T/Pers). Our approach focuses on the properties of Vocabulary Items and the locality of terminal nodes for vocabulary insertion, avoiding thus any kind of post-syntactic operation.


Spanish, Analogical Strong Preterits, Roots, Morphological alternation, Late insertion


Acedo-Matellán, Victor. 2016. The Morphosyntax of Transitions. A case study in Latin and other languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Acquaviva, Paolo. 2008. Roots and lexicality in Distributed Morphology. Ms.: University College Dublin/Universität Konstanz.

Bobaljik, Jonathan. 2012. Universals in comparative morphology. Suppletion, Superlatives, and the Structure of Words. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Bobaljik, Jonathan. 2015. Suppletion: Some theoretical implications. Annual Review of Linguistics 1: 1–18.

Borer, Hagit. 2009. Roots and categories. Conference at the 19th Colloquium on Generative Grammar. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Universidad del País Vasco. http://www--‐rcf.usc.edu/~borer/rootscategories.pdf

Colina, Sonia. 2014. Syllable Structure. In I. Hualde, A. Olarrea, & E. O’Rourke (eds.), The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics, 133–153. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Embick, David. 2010. Localism versus Globalism in Morphology and Phonology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Embick, David. 2015. The morpheme. A theoretical introduction. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Embick, David & Morris Halle. 2005. On the status of stems in morphological theory. In T. Geerts, I. van Ginneken & H. Jacobs (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2003: Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ 2003, Nijmegen, 20–22 November, 37–62. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Fábregas, Antonio. 2016. Una nota sobre el morfo cero: el imperativo y la vocal temática. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a la Comunicación 68: 100–116.


Fábregas, Antonio. 2017. Theme vowels are verbs. Rivista di Grammatica Generativa 5: 1–11.

Fábregas, Antonio. 2022. What 1sg forms tell us about Spanish theme vowels. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 7(1): 1–40. https://doi.org/10.16995/glossa.7932

Gouskova, Maria & Jonathan Bobaljik. Forthcoming. Allomorphy and Vocabulary insertion. En A. Alexiadou, R. Kramer, A. Marantz & I. Oltra-Massuet (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Distributed Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halle, Morris. 1997. Distributed Morphology: Impoverishment and Fission. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 30: 425–449.

Halle, Morris & Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed Morphology and Pieces of Inflection. In K. Hale & S. Keyser (eds.), The View from Building 20, 111–176. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Halle, Morris & Alec Marantz. 1994. Some Key Features of Distributed Morphology. In A. Carnie & H. Harley (eds.), MITWPL 21: Papers on Phonology and Morphology, 275–288. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.

Harley, Heydi. 2014. On the identity of roots. Theoretical Linguistics 40: 225–276.

Lamiquiz, Vidal. 1972. Morfosintaxis estructural del verbo español. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla.

Marantz, Alec. 1996. Cat as a phrasal idiom: consequences of late insertion in Distributed Morphology. Manuscrito: MIT. https://www.academia.edu/17275409/Cat_as_a_phrasal_idiom

Mare, María. 2021. Syncretism of plural forms in Spanish Dialects. The Linguistic Review 38/2: 289-314. https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2021-2066

Merchant, Jason. 2015. How much context is enough? Two cases of span-conditioned stem allomorphy. Linguistic Inquiry 46: 273–303. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43695679

Oltra-Massuet, Isabel. 1999. On the notion of theme vowel: a new approach to Catalan verbal morphology. Ph.D. Thesis, MIT.

Oltra-Massuet, Isabel & Arregi, Karlos. 2005. Stress-by-structure in Spanish. Linguistic Inquiry 36: 43–84. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4179309

Oniga, Renato. 2014. Latin. A linguistic introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Panagiotidis, Phoevos & Vitor Nóbrega. Forthcoming. Why we need roots in Minimalism. In E. Leivada & K. K. Grohmann (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Minimalism and its Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Disponible en https://lingbuzz.net/lingbuzz/006497

Pato, Enrique. 2010. Linguistic Levelling in Spanish: The Analogical Strong Preterits. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 55(2): 209–225.

Pato, Enrique & O’Neill, Paul. 2013. Los gerundios ‘analógicos’ en la historia del español (e iberorromance). Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica 61(1): 1–27.

Pérez Saldaña, Manuel. 2014. Morphological Structure of Verbal Forms. In I. Hualde, A. Olarrea, & E. O’Rourke (eds.), The Handbook of Hispanic Linguistics, 227–246. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Pomino, Natascha & Remberger, Eva-Maria. 2022. Romance Root Suppletion and Cumulative Exponence: Fusion, Pruning, Spanning. Languages 7(161): 1–25. https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7030161

Radkevich, Nina. 2010. On Location: The structure of case and adpositions. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Connecticut.

RAE-ASALE. 2009. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. Madrid: Espasa.

Ramchand, Gilliam. 2008. Verb Meaning and the Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roca, Iggy. 2010. Theme vowel allomorphy in Spanish verb inflection: An autosegmental optimality account. Lingua 120 (2): 408–434. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2009.05.005

Rojo, Guillermo. 1990. Relaciones entre temporalidad y aspecto en español. In I. Bosque (ed.), Tiempo y aspecto em español, 17–41. Madrid: Cátedra.

Rojo, Guillermo & Veiga, Alexandre. 1999. El tiempo verbal. Los tiempos simples. In I. Bosque, & V. Demonte (eds.), Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española, 2867–2935. Madrid: Espasa.

Siddiqi, Daniel. 2009. Syntax within the Word. Economy, allomorphy, and argument selection in Distributed Morphology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Starke, Michal. 2014. Cleaning up the lexicon. Linguistic Analysis 39 (1): 245–256.

Vanden Wyngaerd, Guido, Karen De Clercq & Pavel Caha. 2021. Late insertion and Root Suppletion. ReVEL, edição especial 19 (18): 81–123.




Download data is not yet available.