Athabaskan languages display a remarkable cross-language similarity, yet at the same time the languages of this family differ from each other in restricted ways. This unity and variety provide a useful laboratory for phonological and morphological research. In this paper, we suggest that a certain case of unity which has been analysed as phonologically and morphologically motivated requires a purely morphological analysis.
The case in question is the well-known verbal disyllabic minimality requirement, which has been variously analysed as satisfaction of a disyllabic verb template (Slave; Rice 1990), satisfaction of a monosyllabic prefix-based portmanteau ‘stem’ (Navajo; McDonough 1990, 1996) or the result of stray consonant syllabification in the Minimal Word domain in verbs (Ahtna; Causley 1994). However, when data from other languages of the family are brought into the picture, a different, family-wide analysis suggests itself.