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Article

Morphology in Austronesian Languages  

Theodore Levin and Maria Polinsky

This is an overview of the major morphological properties of Austronesian languages. We present and analyze data that may bear on the commonly discussed lexical-category neutrality of Austronesian and suggest that Austronesian languages do differentiate between core lexical categories. We address the difference between roots and stems showing that Austronesian roots are more abstract than roots traditionally discussed in morphology. Austronesian derivation and inflexion rely on suffixation and prefixation; some infixation is also attested. Austronesian languages make extensive use of reduplication. In the verbal system, main morphological exponents mark voice distinctions as well as causatives and applicatives. In the nominal domain, the main morphological exponents include case markers, classifiers, and possession markers. Overall, verbal morphology is richer in Austronesian languages than nominal morphology. We also present a short overview of empirically and theoretically challenging issues in Austronesian morphology: the status of infixes and circumfixes, the difference between affixes and clitics, and the morphosyntactic characterization of voice morphology.

Article

First-Language Acquisition of Morphology  

Dorit Ravid

First-language acquisition of morphology refers to the process whereby native speakers gain full and automatic command of the inflectional and derivational machinery of their mother tongue. Despite language diversity, evidence shows that morphological acquisition follows a shared path in development in evolving from semantically and structurally simplex and non-productive to more complex and productive. The emergence and consolidation of the central morphological systems in a language typically take place between the ages of two and six years, while mature command of all systems and subsystems can take up to 10 more years, and is mediated by the consolidation of literacy skills. Morphological learning in both inflection and derivation is always interwoven with lexical growth, and derivational acquisition is highly dependent on the development of a large and coherent lexicon. Three critical factors platform the acquisition of morphology. One factor is the input patterns in the ambient language, including various types of frequency. Input provides the context for children to pay attention to morphological markers as meaningful cues to caregivers’ intentions in interactive sociopragmatic settings of joint attention. A second factor is language typology, given that languages differ in the amount of word-internal information they package in words. The “typological impact” in morphology directs children to the ways pertinent conceptual and structural information is encoded in morphological structures. It is thus responsible for great differences among languages in the timing and pace of learning morphological categories such as passive verbs. Finally, development itself is a central mechanism that drives morphological acquisition from emergence to productivity in three senses: as the filtering device that enables the break into the morphological system, in providing the span of time necessary for the consolidation of morphological systems in children, and in hosting the cognitive changes that usher in mature morphological systems in both speech and writing in adolescents and adults.

Article

Morphology in Altaic Languages  

Aslı Göksel

The Altaic languages (Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic) are spread across Eurasia, from Central Asia to the Middle East and the Balkans. The genetic affinity between these subgroups has not been definitively established but the commonality among features and patterns points to some linguistic connections. The main morphological operations in Altaic languages are suffixation and compounding. Generally regarded as morphologically regular with easily identifiable suffixes in which there are clear form-meaning correspondences, the languages, nevertheless, show irregularities in many domains of the phonological exponents of morphosyntactic features, such as base modification, cumulative exponence, and syncretism. Nouns are inflected for number, person, and case. Case markers can express structural relations between noun phrases and other constituents, or they can act as adpositions. Only very few of the Altaic languages have adjectival inflection. Verbs are inflected for voice, negation, tense, aspect, modality, and, in most of the languages subject agreement, varying between one and five person-number paradigms. Subject agreement is expressed through first, second, and third persons singular and plural. In the expression of tense, aspect, and modality, Altaic languages employ predominantly suffixing and compound verb formations, which involve auxiliary verbs. Inflected finite verbs can stand on their own and form propositions, and as a result, information structure can be expressed within a polymorphic word through prosodic means. Affix order is mostly fixed and mismatches occur between morpholotactic constraints and syntactico-semantic requirements. Ellipsis can occur between coordinated words. Derivational morphology is productive and occurs between and within the major word classes of nominals and verbs. Semantic categories can block other semantic categories.

Article

Mayan Languages  

Nora C. England

Mayan languages are spoken by over 5 million people in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. There are around 30 different languages today, ranging in size from fairly large (about a million speakers) to very small (fewer than 30 speakers). All Mayan languages are endangered given that at least some children in some communities are not learning the language, and two languages have disappeared since European contact. Mayas developed the most elaborated and most widely attested writing system in the Americas (starting about 300 BC). The sounds of Mayan languages consist of a voiceless stop and affricate series with corresponding glottalized stops (either implosive and ejective) and affricates, glottal stop, voiceless fricatives (including h in some of them inherited from Proto-Maya), two to three nasals, three to four approximants, and a five vowel system with contrasting vowel length (or tense/lax distinctions) in most languages. Several languages have developed contrastive tone. The major word classes in Mayan languages include nouns, verbs, adjectives, positionals, and affect words. The difference between transitive verbs and intransitive verbs is rigidly maintained in most languages. They usually use the same aspect markers (but not always). Intransitive verbs only indicate their subjects while transitive verbs indicate both subjects and objects. Some languages have a set of status suffixes which is different for the two classes. Positionals are a root class whose most characteristic word form is a non-verbal predicate. Affect words indicate impressions of sounds, movements, and activities. Nouns have a number of different subclasses defined on the basis of characteristics when possessed, or the structure of compounds. Adjectives are formed from a small class of roots (under 50) and many derived forms from verbs and positionals. Predicate types are transitive, intransitive, and non-verbal. Non-verbal predicates are based on nouns, adjectives, positionals, numbers, demonstratives, and existential and locative particles. They are distinct from verbs in that they do not take the usual verbal aspect markers. Mayan languages are head marking and verb initial; most have VOA flexible order but some have VAO rigid order. They are morphologically ergative and also have at least some rules that show syntactic ergativity. The most common of these is a constraint on the extraction of subjects of transitive verbs (ergative) for focus and/or interrogation, negation, or relativization. In addition, some languages make a distinction between agentive and non-agentive intransitive verbs. Some also can be shown to use obviation and inverse as important organizing principles. Voice categories include passive, antipassive and agent focus, and an applicative with several different functions.

Article

Number Marking in Nouns and Adjectives in the Romance Languages  

Franck Floricic

Even though Romance languages are taken to be well-known because of their clearly identified ancestor, they continuously offer a source of patterns and phenomena that are far from being properly taken into account in typological surveys. Corbett rightly pointed out that the question of number has erroneously been held to be simple and straightforward. Needless to say, if many Romance varieties suffer from endangerment or from sociological marginalization, other varieties like French are in some sense trapped in the ice of their norm and such a situation may lead in some cases to questionable analyses. Any French speaker will hold that the feminine of adjectives such as natif [naˈtif] ‘native’ is formed by substituting [f] for [v] and adding final -e at the orthographic level, hence the feminine singular form native [naˈtiv], as in, say, vert-e ‘green’. It is clear, however, that the opposition between natif and native relies on voice-alternation of the adjective final consonant. Various examples of this kind can be adduced to show how phonetic processes contribute to morphological oppositions.

Article

Coordination in Compounds  

Angela Ralli

Compounds are generally divided in those that involve a dependency (subordinate and attributive) relation of one constituent upon the other and those where there is coordination, for which there is much controversy on delimiting the exact borders. This article offers an overview of compounds belonging to the second type, for which the term ‘coordinative’ is adopted, as more general and neutral, drawn from a wide range of terms that have been proposed in the literature. It attempts to provide a definition on the basis of structural and semantic criteria, describes the major features of coordinative compounds and discusses crucial issues that play a significant role to their formation and meaning, such as those of headedness, the order of constituents, and compositionality. Showing that languages vary with respect to the frequency and types of coordinative compounds, being unclear in which way these constructions are distributed and used cross-linguistically, it tries to give a classification with extensive exemplification from genetically and typologically diverse languages.

Article

Prefixation (Nouns and Adjectives) in Romance Languages  

Claudio Iacobini

Romance nominal and adjectival prefixes are derivational affixes that are added before lexemes without determining a change in the part of speech of the lexeme with which they combine. The combination between prefixes and lexemes is mostly based on a semantic principle. Prefixes express functional-relational meanings, acting as modifiers of the base lexeme. The most important semantic categories expressed through nominal and adjectival prefixation are localization (within which we include spatial and temporal meanings, as well as hierarchy), negation, evaluation (i.e., augmentation and diminution in quantity and/or quality), multiplicity, union, reciprocity, and reflexivity. The prefixed lexeme is generally a hyponym of the base lexeme; when a prefixed lexeme is a noun, it inherits its gender from the noun base. Romance prefixes do not play any role in inflection. Nominal and adjectival prefixes do not differ much both from the formal and the semantic point of view in the early 21st-century standard Romance languages (i.e., those that have become the national official languages and developed a high degree of Ausbau). Such homogeneity is only marginally due to the conservation of features stemming from the legacy of a common Latin origin. It is mainly attributable to a re-Latinization of Romance languages through the scholarly transmission of words belonging to the domains of learned academic vocabulary coming from ancient Greek, as well as Classical, Humanistic, and Neo-Latin. The importance and the far-reaching consequences of this homogenizing re-Latinization are shown, on one hand, by the fact that Romance nominal and adjectival prefixation in standard Romance languages is, in the 21st century, more consistent and developed than it was at previous stages and, on the other hand, by the significant differences existing between standard and nonstandard Romance varieties. Standard Romance languages of the early 21st century are characterized by a quite rich inventory of Romance nominal and adjectival prefixes, whereas in nonstandard varieties native nominal and adjectival prefixes are not numerous and almost unproductive, a situation that roughly corresponds to that of the initial phase of Romance languages as a whole. Nominal and adjectival prefixation is a productive process in standard Romance languages; in the last centuries, both the number of elements and the semantic domains have increased, after a significant decrease undergone in the passage from Latin to Romance languages. Prefixed nouns and adjectives are numerous and frequently used both in current common vocabulary and, even more, in specialized terminologies. The spread of neoclassical compounding in common vocabulary (especially from the second half of the 20th century) has increased the number of right-headed words whose first element has a modifier function. Such a semantic relationship between the constituents of complex words shared by prefixation and some neoclassical compounds has both favored the diffusion of nominal and adjectival prefixation and determined a fuzzy zone between traditional prefixation and the new complex formations coming from technical and scientific terminology. Another blurred area between compounding and prefixation is due to the uncertain boundaries between nominal compounds with prepositions and nominal prefixation.

Article

Computational Models of Morphological Learning  

Jordan Kodner

A computational learner needs three things: Data to learn from, a class of representations to acquire, and a way to get from one to the other. Language acquisition is a very particular learning setting that can be defined in terms of the input (the child’s early linguistic experience) and the output (a grammar capable of generating a language very similar to the input). The input is infamously impoverished. As it relates to morphology, the vast majority of potential forms are never attested in the input, and those that are attested follow an extremely skewed frequency distribution. Learners nevertheless manage to acquire most details of their native morphologies after only a few years of input. That said, acquisition is not instantaneous nor is it error-free. Children do make mistakes, and they do so in predictable ways which provide insights into their grammars and learning processes. The most elucidating computational model of morphology learning from the perspective of a linguist is one that learns morphology like a child does, that is, on child-like input and along a child-like developmental path. This article focuses on clarifying those aspects of morphology acquisition that should go into such an elucidating a computational model. Section 1 describes the input with a focus on child-directed speech corpora and input sparsity. Section 2 discusses representations with focuses on productivity, developmental paths, and formal learnability. Section 3 surveys the range of learning tasks that guide research in computational linguistics and NLP with special focus on how they relate to the acquisition setting. The conclusion in Section 4 presents a summary of morphology acquisition as a learning problem with Table 4 highlighting the key takeaways of this article.

Article

English in the U.S. South  

Kirk Hazen

English in the U.S. South contains a wide range of variation, encompassing ethnic, social class, and subregional variations all within the umbrella term of Southern English. Although it has been a socially distinct variety since at least the mid-19th century, many of the modern features it is nationally known for developed only after 1875. Lexical variation has long distinguished the U.S. South, but new vocabulary has replaced the old, and subregional variation in the U.S. South is no longer important for lexical variation. Social class still plays an important role in grammatical variation, but the rise of compulsory education limited previously wider ranges of dialect features. Despite traditional scholarship’s primary focus on lexical and grammatical language variation in the U.S. South, phonological variation has been the main area of scholarship since 1990s. Within phonological variation, the production of vowels, the most socially salient features of the U.S. South, has been a heavily studied realm of scholarship. Prosodic, consonant, and perception studies have been on the rise and have provided numerous insights into this highly diverse dialect region.

Article

Adjectival Suffixes: From Latin to Romance  

Franz Rainer

All languages seem to have nouns and verbs, while the dimension of the class of adjectives varies considerably cross-linguistically. In some languages, verbs or, to a lesser extent, nouns take over the functions that adjectives fulfill in Indo-European languages. Like other such languages, Latin and the Romance languages have a rich category of adjectives, with a well-developed inventory of patterns of word formation that can be used to enrich it. There are about 100 patterns in Romance standard languages. The semantic categories expressed by adjectival derivation in Latin have remained remarkably stable in Romance, despite important changes at the level of single patterns. To some extent, this stability is certainly due to the profound process of relatinization that especially the Romance standard languages have undergone over the last 1,000 years; however, we may assume that it also reflects the cognitive importance of the semantic categories involved. Losses were mainly due to phonological attrition (Latin unstressed suffixes were generally doomed) and to the fact that many derived adjectives became nouns via ellipsis, thereby often reducing the stock of adjectives. At the same time, new adjectival patterns arose as a consequence of language contact and through semantic change, processes of noun–adjective conversion, and the transformation of evaluative suffixes into ethnic suffixes. Overall, the inventory of adjectival patterns of word formation is richer in present-day Romance languages than it was in Latin.

Article

Morphological and Syntactical Variation and Change in Latin American Spanish  

John M. Lipski

The Spanish language, as it spread throughout Latin America from the earliest colonial times until the present, has evolved a number of syntactic and morphological configurations that depart from the Iberian Peninsula inheritance. One of the tasks of Spanish variational studies is to search for the routes of evolution as well as for known or possible causal factors. In some instances, archaic elements no longer in use in Spain have been retained entirely or with modification in Latin America. One example is the use of the subject pronoun vos in many Latin American Spanish varieties. In Spain vos was once used to express the second-person plural (‘you-pl’) and was later replaced by the compound form vosotros, while in Latin America vos is always used in the singular (with several different verbal paradigms), in effect replacing or coexisting with tú. Other Latin American Spanish constructions reflect regional origins of Spanish settlers, for example, Caribbean questions of the type ¿Qué tú quieres? ‘What do you (sg)want?’ or subject + infinitive constructions such as antes de yo llegar ‘before I arrived’, which show traces of Galician and Canary Island heritage. In a similar fashion, diminutive suffixes based on -ico, found in much of the Caribbean, reflect dialects of Aragon and Murcia in Spain, but in Latin America this suffix is attached only to nouns whose final consonant is -t-. Contact with indigenous, creole, or immigrant languages provides another source of variation, for example, in the Andean region of South America, where bilingual Quechua–Spanish speakers often gravitate toward Object–Verb word order, or double negation in the Dominican Republic, which bears the imprint of Haitian creole. Other probably contact-influenced features found in Latin American Spanish include doubled and non-agreeing direct object clitics, null direct objects, use of gerunds instead of conjugated verbs, double possessives, partial or truncated noun-phrase pluralization, and diminutives in -ingo. Finally, some Latin American Spanish morphological and syntactic patterns appear to result from spontaneous innovation, for example, use of present subjunctive verbs in subordinate clauses combined with present-tense verbs in main clauses, use of ser as intensifier, and variation between lo and le for direct-object clitics. At the microdialectal level, even more variation can be found, as demographic shifts, recent immigration, and isolation come into play.

Article

Compounding: From Latin to Romance  

Franz Rainer

Compounding in the narrow sense of the term, that is, leaving aside so-called syntagmatic compounds like pomme de terre ‘potato’, is a process of word formation that creates new lexemes by combining more than one lexeme according to principles different from those of syntax. New lexemes created according to ordinary syntactic principles are by some called syntagmatic compounds, also juxtapositions in the Romance tradition since Darmesteter. In a diachronically oriented article such as this one, it is convenient to take into consideration both types of compounding, since most patterns of compounding in Romance have syntactic origins. This syntactic origin is responsible for the fact that the boundaries between compounding and syntax continue to be fuzzy in modern Romance varieties, the precise delimitation being very much theory-dependent (for a discussion based on Portuguese, cf. Rio-Torto & Ribeiro, 2009). Whether some Latin patterns of compounding might, after all, have come down to the Romance languages through the popular channel of transmission continues to be controversial. There can be no doubt, however, that most of them were doomed.

Article

Morphology in Arawak Languages  

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

The Arawak language family is the largest in South America in terms of its geographical spread, from Central America (Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua) to as far south as Bolivia (and formerly Argentina and Paraguay). Within South America, Arawak languages are spoken in Lowland Amazonia and adjacent regions, covering Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil, in at least ten locations north of the River Amazon, and at least ten to the south of it. There are over forty extant languages and a few dozen extinct ones. The genetic unity of Arawak languages was first recognized by Father Filippo Salvadore Gilij as early as 1783, based on a comparison of pronominal prefixes in Maipure, an extinct language from the Orinoco Valley, and in Moxo from Bolivia. The limits of the family were established by the early 20th century. Proposals to include Arawak languages in putative macro-groupings such as “Arawakan” or “Macro-Equatorial” have proved spurious and unsubstantiated. The heritage of Arawak languages survives in such common words as hammock, hurricane, barbecue, guava, and tobacco. Arawak languages are synthetic, predominantly head-marking and suffixing, with a closed and historically stable set of prefixes—bound pronouns on verbs, the relativizing prefix ka- and its negative counterpart ma-. Personal prefixes distinguish first, second, and third person, and also impersonal and indefinite forms. Prefixes mark the subject of a transitive verb and of an intransitive active verb, and the possessor on nouns. In at least two thirds of the languages, personal suffixes or enclitics express the object of a transitive verb (o), and the subject of stative verbs (s o) or the subject of non-verbal predicates. A few highly synthetic languages (including those from the Kampa subgroup in Peru) employ suffixes or enclitics to cross-reference the object and also the recipient or an oblique. There is typically a number of locative cases which can be stacked in one word. The majority of Arawak languages do not employ cases for marking core grammatical relations. The only exception is Tariana, from the multilingual Vaupés River Basin linguistic area. Here, core cases were developed under the influence of the neighboring Tucanoan languages. Inclusive–exclusive distinctions were developed in Resígaro and Palikur as a result of language contact. Open classes are verbs and nouns; adjectives tend to form an open class, and share some features with nouns, and some with verbs. Verbal roots tend to be exclusively monosyllabic. Noun roots can contain more than one syllable. Derivational processes include affixation, compounding, and various kinds of reduplication. Just a few languages have single-word serial verb constructions. The order of suffixes within a word can be variable, reflecting the scope of the morphemes. Nouns divide into obligatorily, or inalienably, possessed and optionally, or alienably, possessed. Obligatorily possessed nouns are body parts, kinship terms, and a few important possessions, for example ‘name’ and ‘house’. If the possessor is not specified, these nouns take an unpossessed form marked with a suffix, also used as a nominalizer on verbs in many languages. Alienably possessed nouns take a possessive prefix and an additional suffix (chosen based on the meaning of the noun). Most languages distinguish masculine and feminine genders in third person singular personal pronouns, demonstratives, nominalizations, and also as agreement markers on adjectives. More than half the languages have complex systems of classifiers on number words, and also on verbs, in possessive constructions, and on nouns themselves. They categorize the noun in terms of its shape, consistency, and animacy. Singular and plural numbers are fairly uniform across the family; dual has developed in Resígaro, as a consequence of language contact with the unrelated Bora. Other nominal grammatical categories include nominal tense, augmentative, diminutive, and approximative. The verb is the most complicated part of the grammar of every Arawak language, and the only obligatory constituent in a clause. Typical verbal categories include tense, aspect, evidentiality, numerous modalities (including a frustrative meaning ‘do in vain’), and valency-changing derivations—passives, reflexives, reciprocals, causatives, and applicatives. Some Kampa languages have up to six applicative derivations, including comitative, benefactive, goal, presential, separative, and instrumental. Highly synthetic languages, such as Kampa and Palikur, have patterns of noun incorporation. Many Arawak languages are located next to speakers of languages from other families. They take on their features, in grammar and sometimes also in lexicon. Tariana, the only Arawak language spoken in the multilingual Vaupés River Basin area surrounded by Tucanoan languages, has a distinct Tucanoan flavor to its grammar. Mawayana, Garifuna, and Palikur, in contact with Carib languages, have acquired a few Carib features. Resígaro has been affected by Bora, and Amuesha bears traces of contact with Quechua and other languages that are hard to identify. The interaction of genetic inheritance, language contact, and independent innovations makes Arawak languages dauntingly diverse.

Article

Peculiarities of Raeto-Romance Word Formation  

Matthias Grünert

Raeto-Romance (RaeR.) word formation shows considerable differences between the three main varieties: Romansh of Grisons, Dolomitic Ladin, and Friulian. Although numerous processes of word formation are common to these varieties, being inherited from identical bases, their vitality differs. This is due to the detached developments in the individual areas and to different influences from the dominant neighboring languages, German and Italian, leading to numerous replications of patterns in the RaeR. varieties.

Article

Parasynthesis in Morphology  

Claudio Iacobini

The term parasynthesis is mainly used in modern theoretical linguistics in the meaning introduced by Arsène Darmesteter (1874) to refer to denominal or deadjectival prefixed verbs of the Romance languages (Fr. embarquer ‘to load, to board’) in which the non-prefixed verb (barquer) is not an actual word, and the co-radical nominal form (embarqu-) is not well formed. The Romance parasynthetic verb is characterized with reference to its nominal or adjectival base as the result of the co-occurrence of both a prefix and a suffix (typically of a conversion process, i.e., non-overt derivational marking). The co-occurrence or simultaneity of the two processes has been seen by some scholars as a circumfixation phenomenon, whereby two elements act in combination. The peculiar relationship existing between base and parasynthetic verb is particularly problematic for an Item and Process theoretical perspective since this approach entails the application of one process at a time. Conversely, a Word and Paradigm framework deals more easily with parasynthetic patterns, as parasynthetic verbs are put in relation with prefixed verbs and verbs formed by conversion, without being undermined neither by gaps in derivational patterns nor by the possible concomitant addition of prefixes and suffixes. Due to their peculiar structure, parasynthetic verbs have been matter of investigation even for non-specialists of Romance languages, especially from synchronic (or, better said, achronic) point of view. Attention has been also placed on their diachronic development in that, despite being characteristic of the Romance languages, parasynthetic verbs were already present, although to a lesser extent, in Latin. The diachronic development of parasynthetic verbs is strictly connected with that of spatial verb prefixes from Latin to the Romance languages, with particular reference to their loss of productivity in the encoding of spatial meanings and their grammaticalization into actionality markers. Parasynthetic verbs have been in the Romance languages since their earliest stages and have shown constant productivity and diffusion in all the Romance varieties, thus differing from spatial prefixes, which underwent a strong reduction in productivity in combination with verbs. The term parasynthetic is sometimes also used to refer to nouns and adjectives derived from compounds or in which both a prefix and a suffix are attached to a lexical base. In the case of nominal and adjectival formation, there is much less consensus among scholars on the need to use this term, as well as on which processes should fall under this label. The common denominator of such cases consists either in the non-attestation of presumed intermediate stages (Sp. corchotaponero ‘relative to the industry of cork plugs’) or in the non-correspondence between sense and structure of the morphologically complex word (Fr. surnaturel ‘supernatural’).

Article

Morphology and Language Documentation  

Yuni Kim

What does it mean to document the morphology of a language, and how does one go about such a task? Most of the world’s languages are arguably underdocumented, yet morphological generalizations often require large amounts of primary data: thousands of word forms could be needed to establish basic patterns of allomorphy, for example, or the structure of an inflection-class system. Because of this, the major debates in the language documentation literature affect the field of morphology by shaping the nature of the data. A starting point is the idea that traditional methods of elicitation, often via translation from a contact language and inevitably requiring a patient speaker, can mask ingrained assumptions about the ontology of data and the wider context of linguistic research. Critical examination of these assumptions yields a wider range of possible approaches that can be drawn on to produce a corpus theorization (i.e., a rationale for the types of communicative events to be recorded) appropriate to each language situation. In particular, it has been argued that it is sometimes not ethical to collect language data in a decontextualized way that prioritizes (or appears to prioritize) the linguist’s goals above speakers’ goals, where those are not the same. Thus, in morphology, where virtually everyone agrees that some type of elicitation is essential, creativity and flexibility are sometimes needed to address or modify research questions. Fortunately, documentary linguistics has seen significant advances in the theory and practice of data management, making it possible to work efficiently with data from a wide variety of recording-session structures. Of equal interest are the reasons why a decontextualized approach may be undesirable, even for the linguist’s analytical purposes. The goal of ‘documenting morphology’ is an abstract one; one can only really document word forms, and morphological structure is a product of analysis. From this fact arise a few problems. First, and even independently of the ethical issues referred to above, it is not always obvious what methods are most reliable for getting speakers to produce word forms or for understanding speakers’ knowledge about them. Different methods have complementary pros and cons, so it is usually necessary to use a mix. When working with existing data, an appreciation of the complexities of the data gathering process is useful for developing a critical approach to the background contexts, strengths, and limitations of primary sources. Second, ‘documentation’ implies a reasonable level of comprehensiveness. For many semantically or functionally defined phenomena, it is possible to make a cross-linguistically robust checklist that ensures that one has more or less covered the relevant territory. It is much less straightforward to compile an inventory of structures in any formal domain, particularly given cross-linguistic variation in morphological vs. syntactic vs. prosodic encoding of similar functional categories. In morphology, the linguist’s inventory of phenomena often keeps expanding until nearly all grammatical constructions and large numbers of lexical items have been encountered. Again, this challenge can be addressed by using a mix of methods and genres to check that one has a correct understanding of at least the most commonly occurring patterns. Spontaneous speech tends to contain constructions that fail to show up in elicitation for reasons like pragmatics or interference from the contact language, while structured elicitation or metalinguistic work is needed to fully investigate the word-formation patterns within each of those constructions, or indeed (if the linguist is nonnative) to get enough of a foothold to work with spontaneous speech at all. Checklists from the viewpoint of morphological typology tend to initially be most useful for monitoring and organizing, and later for filling gaps at a more advanced stage of research.

Article

Morphology in Indo-European Languages  

Paolo Milizia

Indo-European languages of the most archaic type, such as Old Indic and Ancient Greek, have rich fusional morphologies with predominant use of suffixation and ablaut as formal devices. The presence of cumulative inflectional morphs in final position is also a general IE feature. A noteworthy property of the archaic IE morphological system is its root-based organization. This is well observable in Old Indo-Aryan, where the mental lexicon is largely made up of roots unspecified for word-class membership. In the historical development of the different IE branches, recurrent phenomena are observed that lead to an increase in configurationality and a decrease in the degree of synthesis (use of adpositions at the expense of case forms, rise of auxiliaries and increasing employment of periphrastic morphology, creation of determiners). However, not all the documented developments can be subsumed under the rubric ‘morphological decay’: new synthetic verbal forms, which often coexist with the inherited ones, are often created via resynthesization of periphrases; new nominal case forms are sometimes created through univerbation of adpositional phrases; instances of prefixation recurrently arise from former compound structures consisting of adverb (‘preverb’) + verb. The formation of inflectional paradigms with several mutually unpredictable subsections and of relatively complex systems of inflectional classes is also observed in various IE languages. The same holds for the rising of new patterns of morphophonological alternations, which often allow the preservation of several morphological oppositions even after the loss of inflectional endings. As a consequence, modern IE languages may exhibit higher degrees of fusionality, at least in specific morphological subsystems, than their diachronic foregoers. In the various branches, the system of inflectional morphology could undergo several reshapings at the level of both the structure of grammatical categories and the formal organization of paradigms, sometimes with noteworthy typological changes. English poor morphology, Ossetic and New Armenian agglutinative nominal inflections, lack of verbal inflection of number, and presence of numeral classifiers in Eastern New Indo-Aryan varieties are among the examples of extreme departure from the ancient IE morphological type. A common development concerning word formation is the decline of the root-based organization of morphology.

Article

Luxembourgish  

Peter Gilles

This article provides an overview of the structure of the Luxembourgish language, the national language of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which has developed from a Moselle Franconian dialect to an Ausbau language in the course of the 20th century. In the early 21st century, Luxembourgish serves several functions, mainly as a multifunctional spoken variety but also as a written language, which has acquired a medium level of language standardization. Because of the embedding into a complex multilingual situation with German and French, Luxembourgish is characterized by a high degree of language contact. As a Germanic language, Luxembourgish has developed its distinct grammatical features. In this article, the main aspects of phonetics and phonology (vowels, consonants, prosody, word stress), morphology (inflection of nouns, adjectives, articles and pronouns, partitive structures, prepositions, verbal system), and syntactic characteristics (complementizer agreement, word order in verbal clusters) are discussed. The lexicon is influenced to a certain degree by loanwords from French. Regarding language variation and change, recent surveys show that Luxembourgish is undergoing major changes affecting phonetics and phonology (reduction of regional pronunciations), the grammatical system (plural of nouns), and, especially, the lexical level (decrease of loans from French, increase of loans from German).

Article

Psycholinguistic Methods and Tasks in Morphology  

Daniel Schmidtke and Victor Kuperman

Lexical representations in an individual mind are not given to direct scrutiny. Thus, in their theorizing of mental representations, researchers must rely on observable and measurable outcomes of language processing, that is, perception, production, storage, access, and retrieval of lexical information. Morphological research pursues these questions utilizing the full arsenal of analytical tools and experimental techniques that are at the disposal of psycholinguistics. This article outlines the most popular approaches, and aims to provide, for each technique, a brief overview of its procedure in experimental practice. Additionally, the article describes the link between the processing effect(s) that the tool can elicit and the representational phenomena that it may shed light on. The article discusses methods of morphological research in the two major human linguistic faculties—production and comprehension—and provides a separate treatment of spoken, written and sign language.

Article

Polysynthesis: A Diachronic and Typological Perspective  

Michael Fortescue

Polysynthesis is informally understood as the packing of a large number of morphemes into single words, as in (1) from Bininj Gun-wok (Evans, in press).1) a-ban-yawoyʔ-wargaʔ-maɳe-gaɲ-giɲe-ŋ 1SGSUBJ-3PLOBJ-again-wrong-BEN-meat-cook-PSTPF 'I cooked the wrong meat for them again.' Its status as a distinct typological category into which some of the world’s languages fall, on a par with isolating, agglutinating, or fusional languages, has been controversial from the start. Nevertheless, researchers working with these languages are seldom in doubt as to their status as distinct from these other morphological types. This has been complicated by the fact that the speakers of such languages are largely limited to hunter-gatherers—or were so in the not too distant past—so the temptation is to link the phenomenon directly to way of life. This proves to be oversimplified, although it is certainly true that languages qualifying as polysynthetic are almost everywhere spoken in peripheral regions and are on the decline in the modern world—few children are learning them today. Perhaps the most pervasive of the traits that give these languages the impression of a “special” status is that of holophrasis, which can be defined as the (possible) expression of what in less synthetic languages would be whole sentences in single complex (usually verbal) words. It turns out, however, that there is much greater variety among polysynthetic languages than is generally thought: there are few other traits that they all share, although distinct subtypes can in fact be distinguished, notably the affixing as opposed to the incorporating type. These languages have considerable importance for the investigation of the diachronic complexification of languages in general and of language acquisition by children, as well as for theories of language universals. The sociolinguistic factors behind their development have only recently begun to be studied in depth. All polysynthetic languages today are to some degree endangered (they are dying off at an alarming rate), and many have been poorly studied if at all, which makes their investigation before it is too late a prime goal for linguistics.