This article examines the nominal inflectional system of a group of Asia Minor Greek dialects (Dawkins 1910, 1916), which developed, in parallel with the fusional inflectional system, an agglutinative one due to language contact with Turkish. We argue that the ‘old’ fusional ending or the theme vowel was reanalyzed as part of the nominal stem. This novel structure was actualized by means of two competing options: in some dialects, the reanalysis was actualized transparently in all inflectional forms rendering an agglutinative pattern of inflection, whereas in dialects with limited agglutination the actualization took the form of a special type of vowel assimilation. More specifically, as part of the nominal stem, the ‘old’ theme vowel signals its merge with the root by allowing it to absorb some or all of its features. Formally, the phonological process is treated as an instance of indirect licensing (Walker 2011), according to which the theme vowel acts as a trigger due to its privileged position as a segment of the categorizer n, i.e. the head of the stem.
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