Template Morphologies
Word formation in natural language is traditionally considered to fall into one or more of three general categories, prefixal, suffixal (sometimes termed concatenative) or infixal (non-concatenative). More recently linguists have begun to consider word formation as based upon templates which may include elements of all three types of inflection. The origins of this new perspective can be traced back to early work in the analysis of Semitic morphologies notably by McCarthy.1 More recent related work includes Kiraz2 on Syriac morphologies, Beesley3 on Arabic morphology and Raimy4 on phonologically based morpheme precedence in Arabic.

A process is proposed by which morphological templates can be discovered from word lists without recourse to external lexica. The discovery of such templates should allow the identification not only of non-contiguous morpheme structures but also affixal morphologies. Using the principles already successfully developed for affixal morphologies these structures will then be used to identify their corresponding stem-lemmata. Such a process would be both language independent and inflection type independent. Initial modelling would evaluate the usefulness of minimax decision theory5 as a basis for calculating likeness between two entities which share a number of non-contiguous atoms.

1 McCarthy, John J. (1979) Formal problems in Semitic phonology and morphology. Ph.D. disseration. MIT
2 Kiraz, G. 1996b. SemHe: a generalised two level system, Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the ACL, pages 159-166, Santa Cruz, CA.
3 Kenneth R. Beesley. 1998b. Arabic morphology using only finite-state operations In Michael Rosner, editor, Proceedings of the Workshop on Computational Approaches to Semitic languages, pages 50-57, Montreal, Quebec, August. COLING-ACL'98
4 Raimy, Eric (2007) Precedence theory, root and template morphology, priming effects and the structure of the lexicon
University of Wisconsin, Madison, CUNY Phonology Symposium Precedence Conference NYC, NY.
5 Russell, Stuart J. & Norvig, Peter (2003), Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (2nd ed.), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, pp. 163-171