Re: Isolating natlangs?
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, January 14, 2005, 18:04|
On Thursday, January 13, 2005, at 06:50 , H. S. Teoh wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 13, 2005 at 06:12:09PM +0000, Ray Brown wrote:
>> No, not Mandarin (or AFAIK any other variety of spoken Chinese). Like
>> modern English, it is largely isolating but does have some bound
>> grammatical morphemes (affixes) like, for example, the verbal aspect
>> morphemes -le and -zhe, and several others. Indeed, it has been argued on
>> this list that modern English is more isolating than Mandarin (but not an
>> argument I think worth pursuing).
> I seem to remember seeing that argument before some time ago.
It was - and I am fairly certain it has happened more than once.
> I think
> the perception that Chinese is purely isolating may be due to the (not
> so accurate) impression that every syllable corresponds with a
> different "word" (which is not really true, but is a commonly promoted
Yep - an urban myth derived from faulty occidental understanding of the
script - but it is a long-standing myth dating back to the 17th cent at
least. In fact, as we have seen in recent mails, not even every syllable
correspons to a morpheme, tho most do. But if you start treating every
morpheme, whether free or bound, as separate "words", then the world will
have a plethora of 'isolating' languages!
>> The trouble is that natlangs have this horrible tendency of not fitting
>> neatly into the three-way topologies of te 19th century theorists ;)
> Which is why I've no qualms about making such bizarre yet naturalistic
> (to me it is!) things as the Ebisédian case system... ;-)
Quite right too :)
How often have I read someone telling us that such-and-such a feature is
not a good idea as it would not happen in a natlang, only for someone to
give us a natlang example of the feature!
"If /ni/ can change into /A/, then practically anything
can change into anything"
Yuen Ren Chao, 'Language and Symbolic Systems"