Feature percolation conventions

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Feature Percolation Conventions (FPCs) is a set of four mechanisms originally proposed in Lieber (1980) that copy the properties of words to the node that immediately dominates them. Lieber assumes that morphemes are inserted into unlabeled trees, and these trees are then labeled by means of the following FPCs:

(i)   FPC I:   All features of a stem morpheme, including category
               features, percolate to the first non-branching node
               dominating that morpheme.
(ii)  FPC II:  All features of an affix morpheme, including category
               features, percolate to the first branching node
               dominating that morpheme.
(iii) FPC III: If a branching node fails to obtain features by FPC II,
               features from the next lowest labeled node automatically
               percolate up to the unlabeled branching node.
(iv)  FPC IV:  If two stems are sisters (i.e. they form a compound),
               features from the right-hand stem percolate up to the
               branching node dominating the stems.

Slightly different FPCs are proposed in Selkirk (1982) and DiSciullo & Williams (1987). These alternative versions make use of the notions head and underspecification.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Di Sciullo, A. M. and E. Williams 1987. On the Definition of Word, MIT-press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Lieber, R. 1980. On the Organization of the Lexicon, PhD diss. Univ. of New Hampshire, reproduced by the IULC.
  • Selkirk, E. O. 1982a. The Syntax of Words, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Spencer, A. 1991. Morphological Theory, Blackwell, Oxford.