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Re: evolving languages

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 15, 2003, 20:46
En réponse à Tristan <kesuari@...>:

> > > You mean 'future'. I know you know that, I'm just going to be the > first > of hundreds. >
True, just a slip of fingers. I was still thinking about the post about Maggel ;)))) . So to make things clear: "will" used to mean only "want", but is now mostly used for the future tense ;))) .
> > > How can you tell the difference between an unstressed word, a clitic, > and an inflexion? What's to stop _j'aimerai_ from being _j'aim erai_ > (that's an arbitrary split. I don't know French, spoken or written)?
A better split would be "j'aimer ai" (it's etymological at least). Well, for the difference, just rely on the speaker's intuition. After all, that's one of the best sources for this kind of things, and probably the best way to define "word" in some language (any other definition tend to break down easily). Moreover, there *are* differences between unstressed words, clitics and inflections: - an unstressed word stands on its own, even when it's unstressed, and doesn't have influence on the stress pattern of the words around, - a clitic keeps some autonomy (it can be moved a bit, usually), but it falls under the stress pattern of some neighbouring word and often modify that stress pattern (just look at the Latin -que wuich attracts the stress to the syllable preceeding it), - an inflection doesn't have autonomy at all. It can have only one place and is strongly dependent on the word it's on (clitics usually can be added to nearly any word. Inflections are dependent in form on the word they are added on). Moreover, the word sometimes changes form to accept the inflection (and the form it takes, the root or radical, often cannot appear independently in the case of inflecting languages) while it's not the case with clitics. In short, in the case of a clitic, the limit between the word and the clitic are still clear. In the case of an inflection, they are not. Note that by that definition French subject and object pronouns are actually inflections (or clitics which are extremely close to become inflections). And they actually are, despite the fact that they are written separated from the word they are added on.
> or > 'would probably' from being 'wubprobably'? >
You may write it this way, but that doesn't change the fact that they are still clearly separate words according to the definition above (note that the sound change you show is purely phonetic. To access the status of inflection, the sound change associated must become phonemic).
> > > And, just as irregularities in grammar will simplify (such as 'holp' > becoming 'helped'), irregularities in the phonology can sometimes > simplify in the same way.
Unless they are frequently used (which is why most irregular words are common ones, too bad for the L2 learner of the language ;))) ).
> > > I thought the Spanish sound was [B]? Am I confused? I don't know > Spanish. >
You're right. But there is still a difference: the intervocalic [B] of Spanish is purely phonetic. Phonemically, it's still a /b/. The French /v/ *is* phonemic on the other hand. So French still did go further than Spanish.
> > > I'm just wondering Christophe: were you trying to pun there, or have > you > misunderstood the expression 'more-or-less'? It essentially means that > they'll follow them.
Really? I've never seen the expression used in this sense. I've always seen it meaning "some more, some less". For example, 'students who perform well in the
> VCE > more-or-less always go on to tertiary studies'
Which sounds to me like nonsense, as the expression "more or less" doesn't fit with the adverb "always" behind. Are you sure it's the most common meaning of that expression? I've never seen it anywhere, and it's the first time somebody comments on my use of it. means that nearly all
> of > them do, and the ones that don't probably have good reasons to not, > like > they over-estimated their ability and applied for courses that > wouldn't > accept them or they got pregnant or something (neither of which have > happened to me---I hope. Well, the second is just about impossible on > the former I'll find out on Sunday, but I should be right. God I hate > this. Why can't they just tell me already?). >
They're sadistic? ;)))
> I bring it up only because I think I've seen you use it before in the > same way and never the right one.
Are you sure *you* have the right one? I've certainly read the expression plenty of times before, and never with the meaning you just explained. So I'm just using it the way I learned it. Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.


John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>