This article discusses morphological markedness as a trigger and target of postsyntactic feature-deletion operations (impoverishment; Bobaljik 2003, Bonet 1991, Halle 1997, Halle and Marantz 1993, Harley 2008, Noyer 1992, 1998) and, taking number as a case study, argues that dual is more marked than plural, in accordance with traditional and more recent approaches to inflectional morphology. In a system that employs abstract binary features, dual may be represented by a combination of the features [−singular, −augmented] (Conklin 1962, Noyer 1992), and the feature [−augmented] is marked in the context of [−singular]. This article draws a formal distinction between markedness-targeted impoverishment and markedness-triggered impoverishment, arguing that the latter is an important diagnostic for morphological markedness. Exemplification comes from syncretisms either directed at or conditioned by the dual in Sámi, Sorbian, Slovenian, Warlpiri, and Zuni, the last of which has been argued by Cowper (2005) to show that dual is less marked than plural.

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