Some corners of language appear to be rule-governed and automatic, while others appear arbitrary and idiosyncratic. However, many cases in all areas of grammar fall in between these two extremes. Such cases are sometimes referred to as "semiproductive". To use a famous example from morphology, the suffix -en can successfully verbalize some adjectives to yield words like widen, redden, and blacken, but it fails to do the same thing to narrow (*narrowen), pink (*pinken), and green (*greenen). Similarly, we can say things like take a look and take a sniff but not take a touch or take a smell. In English phonology, Velar Softening (as in electri[k]- electri[s]ity) has been discussed as a semi-productive process because it applies only in certain morphological contexts and with certain lexical items (cf. Blake — Blakism). In general, the symptom of a semiproductive rule is that it states a generalization, but one must learn which cases this generalization actually applies to.
The purpose of this workshop is to explore this elusive category of generalizations at several levels of grammar (phonology, morphology and syntax) with hope of getting a grip on such questions as: