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Tow language change questions

From:David McCann <david@...>
Date:Monday, October 27, 2008, 16:56
On Mon, 2008-10-27 at 03:32 +1100, Yahya Abdal-Aziz wrote:

> Do please clarify a few things for me in this most interesting pattern! > > Q1. In what sense are these "stages" if 5 (as well as 2) can precede 3? > > Q2. Please flesh out the meaning of these stages. Eg - > Q2a. Does "demonstrative" mean a "demonstrative adjective"? > > Q2b. Does "definite article" in stage 2 imply the existence of > an "indefinite article"; or perhaps only of a definiteness contrast, in > which > the definite state is marked by the presence of the definite particle? > > Q2c. What is a "noun marker" - a morpheme, inflection, clitic > ...? > > Q2d. Is there any known example of a living language currently > _in > transition_ between two (or more) of these stages?
Q1: My fault! I was treating this as a case of two successive cycles, but of course it isn't. Firstly the pidgin looses the article — not really proceeding to stage 5, just not bothering with one — but interpreting it as an initial consonant before a vowel. Then the pidgin evolves into a creole and creates a new article. Q2a: demonstrative adjective, since we're talking about qualifying a noun. Q2b: No. You can have a definite article without an indefinite one (e.g. Greek), or an indefinite without a definite (e.g. Turkish). Actually the use of the term "article" obscures the fact that we're dealing with two quite different things. The definite article is a deictic, like a demonstrative: it identifies one or more instances of something: "that book [over there]", "this book [over here]", "the book [that we're talking about]". The indefinite article is a quantifier: "three books", "several books [the number is unimportant]", "one book", "a book [there's actually only one, but the number is unimportant]". That's why in some languages (e.g. Spanish) the plural indefinite article is used like the English "some". Q2c: an obligatory morpheme, part of all nouns: like the -o in Esperanto. Q2d: No. How would you tell a language is moving between stages until it's moved? It may be that French will follow its creole versions and loose the current article, but it may just stop with an "over used" definite article as Greek has done for over a thousand years.