Winter 2018, Vol. 49, No. 1, Pages 61-84
Embick and Marantz (2008) present an analysis of the Danish definiteness alternation involving a postsyntactic rule of Local Dislocation (an operation sensitive to linear adjacency but not hierarchical structure). Examination of a fuller range of data reveals that the alternation cannot be determined strictly in terms of adjacency; rather, it depends on the structural relation between the D and the N. We propose to treat the alternation as an instance of conditioned allomorphy, the suffixal form appearing when D is sister to a minimal N, and the free article elsewhere. This alternation is, then, a case of “blocking” in the sense accepted by Embick and Marantz: the result of competition between Vocabulary items for the expression of a morpheme. Assuming that the condition for wordhood is being a complex head, we argue that the distinction between free and bound morphemes, and whether bound morphemes are prefixes or suffixes, must be encoded in the Vocabulary items spelling out the morphemes.