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Article

A lexical item is described as “playful” or “ludic” when it shows evidence of manipulation of the relation that inheres between its form (signifier) and its meaning (signified). The playful lexicon of any given language, therefore, is the sum total of its lexical items that show signs of such manipulation. Linguists have long recognized that the only necessary link between a word’s form and its meaning is the arbitrary social convention that binds them. However, nothing prevents speakers from creating additional, unnecessary and therefore essentially “playful” links, associating forms with meanings in a symbolic, hence non-arbitrary way. This semantic effect is most evident in the case of onomatopoeia, through which the phonetic form of words that designate sounds is designed to be conventionally imitative of the sound. A second group of playful words combines repeated sequences of sounds with meanings that are themselves suggestive of repetition or related concepts such as collectivity, continuity, or actions in sequence, as well as repeated, back-and-forth, or uncontrolled movements, or even, more abstractly, intensity and hesitation. The playfulness of truncated forms such as clips and blends is based on a still more abstract connection between forms and meanings. In the case of clipping, the truncation of the full form of a word triggers a corresponding connotative truncation or diminution of the meaning, that is, a suggestion that the referent is small—either endearingly, humorously, or contemptuously so. In blending, truncation is often accompanied by overlapping, which symbolically highlights the interrelatedness or juxtaposition of the constituents’ individual meanings. Prosodic templates do not constitute a separate category per se; instead, they may play a part in the formation or alteration of words in any of the other categories discussed here.

Article

Irina Monich

Tone is indispensable for understanding many morphological systems of the world. Tonal phenomena may serve the morphological needs of a language in a variety of ways: segmental affixes may be specified for tone just like roots are; affixes may have purely tonal exponents that associate to segmental material provided by other morphemes; affixes may consist of tonal melodies, or “templates”; and tonal processes may apply in a way that is sensitive to morphosyntactic boundaries, delineating word-internal structure. Two behaviors set tonal morphemes apart from other kinds of affixes: their mobility and their ability to apply phrasally (i.e., beyond the limits of the word). Both floating tones and tonal templates can apply to words that are either phonologically grouped with the word containing the tonal morpheme or syntactically dependent on it. Problems generally associated with featural morphology are even more acute in regard to tonal morphology because of the vast diversity of tonal phenomena and the versatility with which the human language faculty puts pitch to use. The ambiguity associated with assigning a proper role to tone in a given morphological system necessitates placing further constraints on our theory of grammar. Perhaps more than any other morphological phenomena, grammatical tone exposes an inadequacy in our understanding both of the relationship between phonological and morphological modules of grammar and of the way that phonology may reference morphological information.

Article

Dany Amiot and Edwige Dugas

Word-formation encompasses a wide range of processes, among which we find derivation and compounding, two processes yielding productive patterns which enable the speaker to understand and to coin new lexemes. This article draws a distinction between two types of constituents (suffixes, combining forms, splinters, affixoids, etc.) on the one hand and word-formation processes (derivation, compounding, blending, etc.) on the other hand but also shows that a given constituent can appear in different word-formation processes. First, it describes prototypical derivation and compounding in terms of word-formation processes and of their constituents: Prototypical derivation involves a base lexeme, that is, a free lexical elements belonging to a major part-of-speech category (noun, verb, or adjective) and, very often, an affix (e.g., Fr. laverV ‘to wash’ > lavableA ‘washable’), while prototypical compounding involves two lexemes (e.g., Eng. rainN + fallV > rainfallN ). The description of these prototypical phenomena provides a starting point for the description of other types of constituents and word-formation processes. There are indeed at least two phenomena which do not meet this description, namely, combining forms (henceforth CFs) and affixoids, and which therefore pose an interesting challenge to linguistic description, be it synchronic or diachronic. The distinction between combining forms and affixoids is not easy to establish and the definitions are often confusing, but productivity is a good criterion to distinguish them from each other, even if it does not answer all the questions raised by bound forms. In the literature, the notions of CF and affixoid are not unanimously agreed upon, especially that of affixoid. Yet this article stresses that they enable us to highlight, and even conceptualize, the gradual nature of linguistic phenomena, whether from a synchronic or a diachronic point of view.

Article

Olaf Koeneman and Hedde Zeijlstra

The relation between the morphological form of a pronoun and its semantic function is not always transparent, and syncretism abounds in natural languages. In a language like English, for instance, three types of indefinite pronouns can be identified, often grouped in series: the some-series, the any-series, and the no-series. However, this does not mean that there are also three semantic functions for indefinite pronouns. Haspelmath (1997), in fact distinguishes nine functions. Closer inspection shows that these nine functions must be reduced to four main functions of indefinites, each with a number of subfunctions: (i) Negative Polarity Items; (ii) Free-Choice Items; (iii) negative indefinites; and (iv) positive or existential indefinites. These functions and subfunctions can be morphologically realized differently across languages, but don’t have to. In English, functions (i) and (ii), unlike (iii) and (iv), may morphologically group together, both expressed by the any-series. Where morphological correspondences between the kinds of functions that indefinites may express call for a classification, such classifications turn out to be semantically well motivated too. Similar observations can be made for definite pronouns, where it turns out that various functions, such as the first person inclusive/exclusive distinction or dual number, are sometimes, but not always morphologically distinguished, showing that these may be subfunctions of higher, more general functions. The question as to how to demarcate the landscape of indefinite and definite pronouns thus does not depend on semantic differences alone: Morphological differences are at least as much telling. The interplay between morphological and semantic properties can provide serious answers to how to define indefinites and the various forms and functions that these may take on.

Article

Renata Szczepaniak

Linking elements occur in compound nouns and derivatives in the Indo-European languages as well as in many other languages of the world. They can be described as sound material or graphemes with or without a phonetic correspondence appearing between two parts of a word-formation product. Linking elements are meaningless per definition. However, in many cases the clear-cut distinction between them and other, meaningful elements (like inflectional or derivational affixes) is difficult. Here, a thorough examination is necessary. Simple rules cannot describe the occurrence of linking elements. Instead, their distribution is fully erratic or at least complex, as different factors including the prosodic, morphological, or semantic properties of the word-formation components play a role and compete. The same holds for their productivity: their ability to appear in new word-formation products differs considerably and can range from strongly (prosodically, morphologically, or lexically) restricted to the virtual absence of any constraints. Linking elements should be distinguished from singular, isolated insertions (cf. Spanish rousseau-n-iano) or extensions of one specific stem or affix (cf. ‑l- in French congo-l-ais, togo-l-ais, English Congo-l-ese, Togo-l-ese). As they link two parts of a word formation, they also differ from word-final elements attached to compounds like ‑(s)I in Turkish as in ana‑dil‑i (mother‑tongue‑i) ‘mother tongue’. Furthermore, they are also distinct from infixes, i.e., derivational affixes that are inserted into a root, as well as from confixes, which are for bound, but meaningful (lexical) morphemes. Linking elements are attested in many Indo-European languages (Slavic, Romance, Germanic, Baltic languages, and Greek) as well as in other languages across the world. They seem to be more common in compounds than in derivatives. Additionally, some languages display different sets of linking elements in both compounds and derivatives. The linking inventories differ strongly even between closely related languages. For example, Frisian and Dutch, each of which has five different linking elements, share only two linking forms (‑s- and ‑e-). In some languages, linking elements are homophonous to other (meaningful) elements, e.g., inflectional or derivational suffixes. This is mostly due to their historical development and to the degree of the dissociation from their sources. This makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish between linking elements and meaningful elements. In such cases (e.g., in German or Icelandic), formal and functional differences should be taken into account. It is also possible that the homophony with the inflectional markers is incidental and not a remnant of a historical development. Generally, linking elements can have different historical sources: primary suffixes (e.g., Lithuanian), case markers (e.g., many Germanic languages), derivational suffixes (e.g., Greek), prepositions (e.g., Sardinian and English). However, the historical development of many linking elements in many languages still require further research. Depending on their distribution, linking elements can have different functions. Accordingly, the functions strongly differ from language to language. They can serve as compound markers (Greek), as “reopeners” of closed stems for further morphological processes (German), as markers of prosodically and/or morphologically complex first parts (many Germanic languages), as plural markers (Dutch and German), and as markers of genre (German).

Article

Karen De Clercq

Negative markers are not a uniform category. They come in various types and, depending on their type, they take scope over a clause, a phrase, or just a word. Low scope negative markers (LSN) like de-, dis-, un-, iN-, non-, -less are bound morphemes and have therefore been mainly studied within morphology, focusing on the semantics of these markers (contradiction vs. contrariety), issues related to their productivity, and their combinability with certain categories. Wide scope negative markers (WSN), like not are often free morphemes and are usually treated within syntax. Thus there is a morphology-syntax divide when it comes to the treatment of negative markers. However, there are reasons to give up this divide and to uniformly treat negative markers within one module of the grammar. First, from a typological point of view, the bound-free divide of negative markers does not correlate with their scope. For instance, agglutinative languages have WSN markers that are bound morphemes attaching to the verbal base. Second, morphological processes, like suppletion or other types of allomorphy, can be observed in markers that show properties of WSN markers. Third, independent negative particles, like for instance the Dutch free morpheme weinig ‘little, few’, shares stacking properties with other LSN markers like un- and iN-. Fourth, both LSN and WSN markers are subject to the same constraint concerning stacking scopally identical negative markers. Fifth, syncretisms have been found across languages between WSN and LSN, allowing negative markers to be ordered in such a way that no ABA patterns arise, suggesting that the morphology of negative markers reflects the natural scope of negation and that there is a continuum between LSN and WSN markers.

Article

Paradigm Function Morphology (PFM) is an evolving approach to modeling morphological systems in a precise and enlightening way. The fundamental insight of PFM is that words have both content and form and that in the context of an appropriately organized lexicon, a language’s morphology deduces a complex word’s form from its content. PFM is therefore a realizational theory: a language’s grammar and lexicon are assumed to provide a precise characterization of a word’s content, from which the language’s morphology then projects the corresponding form. Morphemes per se have no role in this theory; by contrast, paradigms have the essential role of defining the content that is realized by a language’s morphology. At the core of PFM is the notion of a paradigm function, a formal representation of the relation between a word’s content and its form; the definition of a language’s paradigm function is therefore the definition of its inflectional morphology. Recent elaborations of this idea assume a distinction between content paradigms and form paradigms, which makes it possible to account for a fact that is otherwise irreconcilable with current morphological theory—the fact that the set of morphosyntactic properties that determines a word’s syntax and semantics often differs from the set of properties (some of them morphomic) that determines a word’s inflectional form. Another recent innovation is the assumption that affixes and rules of morphology may be complex in the sense that they may be factored into smaller affixes and rules; the evidence favoring this assumption is manifold.

Article

Ljuba N. Veselinova

This article provides an overview of approaches to numerals within the field of morphology. As is well known, any strict separation between morphology, semantics and syntax is hardly feasible. However, to the extent possible, this study is focused on reviewing approaches to the structural properties of numerals much more than on studies of their uses or integration with other language units. A survey of the pertinent literature shows that there is an imbalance in the study of different kinds of numerals: cardinals have been studied in greater detail than any other kinds of numerals. The morpho-syntactic aspects of cardinal numerals have been discussed in a number of works but corresponding analyses remain in demand for most numeral derivatives, other than ordinals and distributives. Cardinal numerals have been shown to share features with some open word classes, most often with adjectives for the lower members of the set and with nouns for the higher members of the set. However, it has also been pointed out that cardinal numerals remain distinct from other word classes, and this distinction is best described in semantic terms. The use of cardinal numerals as sole or redundant markers of plurality is often related to semantic factors such as animacy and individuation, in some cases also to focus and referentiality. There are different views on whether cardinals in a phrase such as numeral noun should be regarded as heads or not. Among numeral derivatives, complex cardinals, distributive and ordinal numerals have been studied most. There is hardly any comparative work on other known numeral derivations such as multiplicatives, frequentatives, group numerals, approximatives. Currently ongoing projects highlight the cross-linguistic frequency of ordinals and distributives compared to other numerals as well as the need to discuss the basic-derived relation for all numeral derivatives and finally, the relation between numeral derivations and classifier systems on other numeral derivations. Other topics pertinent to the wider topics of numerals in morphology concern the analysis of more derivational patterns and way(s) numerals can be included there as well as operations of conversion whereby numerals are used for the expression of approximate quantities or non-numerical concepts.

Article

Petar Milin and James P. Blevins

Studies of the structure and function of paradigms are as old as the Western grammatical tradition. The central role accorded to paradigms in traditional approaches largely reflects the fact that paradigms exhibit systematic patterns of interdependence that facilitate processes of analogical generalization. The recent resurgence of interest in word-based models of morphological processing and morphological structure more generally has provoked a renewed interest in paradigmatic dimensions of linguistic structure. Current methods for operationalizing paradigmatic relations and determining the behavioral correlates of these relations extend paradigmatic models beyond their traditional boundaries. The integrated perspective that emerges from this work is one in which variation at the level of individual words is not meaningful in isolation, but rather guides the association of words to paradigmatic contexts that play a role in their interpretation.

Article

Stela Manova

Subtraction consists in shortening the shape of the word. It operates on morphological bases such as roots, stems, and words in word-formation and inflection. Cognitively, subtraction is the opposite of affixation, since the latter adds meaning and form (an overt affix) to roots, stems, or words, while the former adds meaning through subtraction of form. As subtraction and affixation work at the same level of grammar (morphology), they sometimes compete for the expression of the same semantics in the same language, for example, the pattern ‘science—scientist’ in German has derivations such as Physik ‘physics’—Physik-er ‘physicist’ and Astronom-ie ‘astronomy’—Astronom ‘astronomer’. Subtraction can delete phonemes and morphemes. In case of phoneme deletion, it is usually the final phoneme of a morphological base that is deleted and sometimes that phoneme can coincide with a morpheme. Some analyses of subtraction(-like shortenings) rely not on morphological units (roots, stems, morphological words, affixes) but on the phonological word, which sometimes results in alternative definitions of subtraction. Additionally, syntax-based theories of morphology that do not recognize a morphological component of grammar and operate only with additive syntactic rules claim that subtraction actually consists in addition of defective phonological material that causes adjustments in phonology and leads to deletion of form on the surface. Other scholars postulate subtraction only if the deleted material does not coincide with an existing morpheme elsewhere in the language and if it does, they call the change backformation. There is also some controversy regarding what is a proper word-formation process and whether what is derived by subtraction is true word-formation or just marginal or extragrammatical morphology; that is, the question is whether shortenings such as hypocoristics and clippings should be treated on par with derivations such as, for example, the pattern of science-scientist. Finally, research in subtraction also faces terminology issues in the sense that in the literature different labels have been used to refer to subtraction(-like) formations: minus feature, minus formation, disfixation, subtractive morph, (subtractive) truncation, backformation, or just shortening.