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Dropping from the root

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 18, 2001, 2:32
Marcus Smith wrote:

 > On Mon, 16 Jul 2001, Mangiat wrote:
 > > > We all know about agglutinating and inflecting languages where
 > > are
 > > > added to a root to change its meaning or function in the sentence. I
 > > > wondering: are there instead natlangs marking a morphologic feature
 > > deleting
 > > > a part of the root?
 > Most definitely. This is usually called "trucation".

 > 'trucation' or 'truncation'?

Sorry, it's "truncation".

 > In the Uto-Aztecan languages Papago and Pima, a verb
 > forms the perfective by truncating the word: neid > nei 'see', maak > maa
 > 'give', nolavt > nolav 'buy', etc. Sometimes a VC sequence is removed
 > instead of just one phoneme.

 > OK, that's what I was looking for!

 > Now some questions... If these languages are inflecting (perhaps
 > agglutinating),

Agglutinating on the verb, nearly isolating on the noun (but not quite).

 > as I suppose, are inflections directly added to the
 > trucated/truncated form?

Suffixes are always added to the non-truncated form. I once read a claim by
a morphologist that truncated forms can never serve as the base for further
affixation. But then again, I've even heard a morphologist claim that
truncation is never a regular process, which is clearly false. (She
retracted her statement after a me and a friend who works on Pima with me
jumped down her throat.)

  Is there a possible historical/phonological reason
 > which caused the last consonant to vanish?

I don't think so. For one thing, the process would have to be very complex.
Truncation does not only operate over the last consonant, but sometimes
over the last coda; e.g., elid > el 'think'. But then kaij 'say' does not
truncate: the perfective and imperfective forms are identical. As far as I
can tell, it is not possible to predict which words will truncate, and how
much of it will be erased; but I'll admit that I haven't gone after this in

  Is such a feature particular of
 > these two languages - do we have analogue cases in the other U.A. languages?

I don't have enough exprience in general UA to say. My Comanche grammar
does not refer to truncation at all, though Comanche is at the other end of
the language family, so to speak. If you felt like tracking something down,
I would suggest looking at Southern Tepehuan, because it is very similar to
Pima and Papago.

Marcus Smith

Unfortunately, or luckily,
no language is tyrannically consistent.
All grammars leak.
                -- Edward Sapir


John Cowan <cowan@...>
Mangiat <mangiat@...>
dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>
Marcus Smith <smithma@...>