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Differential Object Marking in the Romance Languages  

David Gerards

In its most narrow sense, differential object marking (henceforth DOM) refers to a state of affairs in which a proper subset of direct objects of a given language receives overt marking by a morpheme A, while the complementary proper subset of direct objects either does not receive any such marking at all or receives overt marking by another morpheme B. DOM is triggered by (usually a complex interplay of) object-related features, such as animacy, referentiality, and topicality, as well as by additional verbal and configurational ones, such as telicity and secondary predication, among others. Further features determining the extension of DOM are transitivity, affectedness, and individuation. Documented in many language families, DOM is also firmly anchored in Romance. Its prenominal nature shows that it is yet another instantiation of the typological change from primarily right-headed Classical Latin to primarily left-headed Romance. Romance varieties differ as to the degree of grammaticalization of DOM. Among the “big five” national languages, only Spanish and Romanian display a well-developed DOM-system (realized by a and pe, respectively). Yet, a pan-Romance look reveals that DOM is also well attested in Asturian, many Italo-Romance dialects (e.g., Corsican, Engadinese Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, Southern Italian), and even some Gallo-Romance varieties (e.g., Gascon and Languedocian). These latter partly use DOM-morphemes (henceforth DOM-m; within glosses, DOM reads “direct object marker”) different from a and pe and, in addition, in part display a complementary distribution of DOM and definite articles. Generally speaking, Romance DOM is on the rise, in the sense that it arose with dislocated, topicalized strong personal pronouns in Late Latin and has since been diachronically expanding along typologically well-established pathways. Such processes continue to be visible in a number of contemporary Romance varieties, among which are Argentinian Spanish and some non-prescriptive registers of Galician and Catalan. The potential sensitivity of DOM to language contact is also evinced by some Italian and French regiolects in contact with varieties making wider use of DOM. At the same time, DOM-grammaticalization may be reversible: Cuban and Dominican Spanish, for instance, have been reported to display receding DOM; the same is true of Spanish in a number of language contact and heritage speaker settings and of post-18th-century Portuguese. Even Standard Italian, Northern Italian dialects, Standard French, and Francoprovençal—often argued not to possess DOM at all—do marginally allow for it with dislocated strong first- and second-person personal pronouns.

Article

Derivation in Germanic  

Stefan Hartmann

Derivational word-formation processes play an important role in the Germanic languages. In particular, prefixation and suffixation are highly productive. In accordance with the so-called right-hand head principle, suffixes tend to determine the morphological category of a word, and are therefore often category-changing (e.g., verb to noun), while prefixes can lead to changes regarding the valency or case government of the items to which they attach. Derivational patterns differ in various aspects, including the degree to which they modify the semantics of their bases and their morphological productivity.

Article

Typological Diversity Within the Romance Languages  

Davide Ricca

The Romance languages, despite their overall similarity, display interesting internal diversity which can be captured only very partially by looking at the six major standard languages, as typological databases often do. This diversity spans over all the levels of linguistic analysis, from phonology to morphology and syntax. Rather than making a long list of features, with no space to go much beyond their mere mention, the article focusses on just four main areas in a little more detail, trying to develop, if minimally, a discussion on their theoretical and methodological import. The comparison with the full-world typological background given by the WALS Online shows that the differences within Romance may reach the level of general typological relevance. While this is probably not the case in their rather mainstream segmental phonology, it surely holds regarding nominal pluralization and the syntax of negation, which are both areas where the Romance languages have often distanced themselves quite significantly from their common ancestor, Latin. The morphological marking of nominal plural displays four values out of the seven recorded in WALS, adding a further one unattested there, namely subtraction; the negation strategies, although uniformly particle-like, cover all the five values found in WALS concerning linear order. Finally, Romance languages suggest several intriguing issues related with head-marking and dependent-marking constructions, again innovating against the substantially dependent-marking uniformity characteristic of Latin.