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Foot Structure in Germanic  

Joshua Booth and Aditi Lahiri

A foot is an organizing unit of prosodic structure built on moras and syllables. Prominence falls on the heads of feet, and feet can be right- or left-headed (an iamb or a trochee, respectively). Feet can be constructed from the right or the left edge and lexical stress falls on the head of the leftmost or rightmost foot. The metrical system of a language can thus be defined by (a) the nature of the foot (trochee/iamb), (b) the direction of parsing, and (c) the foot that carries main stress. Each prosodic word minimally comprises a stressed foot. Germanic languages are traditionally divided into three branches, East Germanic (Gothic), West Germanic, and North Germanic. East Germanic has no modern descendants, unlike the latter two branches, which include, for example, English, German, and Dutch (West Germanic), and Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish (North Germanic), respectively. The status of the foot has remained remarkably consistent across the history of Germanic, remaining trochaic and quantity sensitive (although details differ across the relevant languages). This is despite significant changes to the quantity systems of Germanic languages, which have almost exclusively lost the distinction in either vowel or consonant quantity (whereas Proto-Germanic had both). The extensive borrowing from Romance languages across Germanic has also had a substantial impact. Germanic words rarely contain more than one foot, whereas Romance loans are largely longer than native Germanic vocabulary and therefore frequently comprise two or more feet. Due to the fact that native vocabulary was broadly stressed on the initial foot, whereas Romance loans often retained right-edge stress, a choice had to be made as to which foot to stress and the modern languages demonstrate that the right edge was selected in every case. Thus, while feet remain quantity sensitive and trochaic, the modern languages construct them from right to left and place main stress on the rightmost foot. This is in contrast to the early stages of the languages, when the opposite was the case.


Comparatives and Superlatives in the Romance Languages  

Marleen Van Peteghem

Comparison expresses a relation involving two or more entities which are ordered on a scale with respect to a gradable property, called the parameter of comparison. In European languages, it is typically expressed through two constructions, comparatives and superlatives. Comparative constructions generally involve two entities, and indicate whether the compared entity shows a higher, lesser, or equal degree of the parameter with respect to the other entity, which is the standard of comparison. Superlatives set out one entity against a class of entities and indicate that the compared entity shows the highest or lowest degree of the parameter. Hence, comparatives may express either inequality (superiority or inferiority) or equality, whereas superlatives necessarily express superiority or inferiority. In traditional grammar, the terms comparative and superlative are primarily used to refer to the morphology of adjectives and adverbs in languages with synthetic marking (cf. Eng. slow, slower, slowest). However, while Latin has such synthetic marking, modern Romance languages no longer possess productive comparative or superlative suffixes. All Romance languages use analytic markers consisting of dedicated adverbs (e.g., Fr. plus ‘more’, moins ‘less’, aussi ‘as, also’) and determiners (e.g., Sp./It. tanto, Ro. atât ‘so much’). Superlatives are marked with the same markers and are mainly distinguished from comparatives by their association with definiteness. Another difference between comparatives and superlatives lies in the complements they license. Comparatives license a comparative complement, which may be clausal or phrasal, and which identifies the standard of comparison. As for superlatives, they license partitive PPs denoting the comparison set, which may be further specified by other PPs, a relative clause, or an infinitive clause. The Romance languages show many similarities with respect to the morphosyntactic encoding of comparatives and superlatives, but they also display important cross-linguistic differences. These differences may be related to the status of the comparative marker, the encoding of the standard marker, ellipsis phenomena in the comparative clause, and the dependence of the superlative on the definite article.


Segmental Phenomena in Germanic: Consonants  

Samantha Litty and Joseph Salmons

Speech sounds are divided into vowels and consonants, the latter being the focus here. Germanic includes ancient and modern “named languages”—traditionally divided into North Germanic (e.g., Swedish, Danish, Faroese), West Germanic (e.g., German, English, Yiddish), and East Germanic languages not spoken for centuries (notably Gothic). The family also includes countless “dialects,” which are often not mutually intelligible and so could be understood as distinct languages. Languages of the world vary in how many consonants distinguish differences in meaning (create phonological contrasts), like bear versus pear, from 6 to over 100. Most have about 20 and Germanic languages are near that number. Beyond abstract phonological contrasts, each consonant varies phonetically, in actual pronunciation, from varying degrees of aspiration on p, t, k and voicing on b, d, g to fundamental variation in the realizations of /r/, /l/, and /h/. Key consonantal phenomena are presented in historical context and for contemporary languages, with an emphasis on distinguishing abstract, phonological patterns from concrete, phonetic ones. Despite the long research tradition, many issues proffer opportunities to advance the field and are discussed to encourage readers to engage with them.


Numerals in Morphology  

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.