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Re: 2 Questions about glosses

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, October 17, 2004, 6:36
From:    scott <sjcaldwell@...>
> My language has 3 genders, which is basically indicated > by 3 articles: asem, ipen, ümen. These articles are the definite > article. The indefinite article is created by adding the suffix -a. > > ümen-a hafal > a-INDF horse > 'a horse' > > Is the gloss for 'the horse' (ümen hafal) > the horse > or the-DEF horse > or something else ?
I would not analyze your basic uninflected articles as definite articles, but rather referential articles: they point to a NP in the discourse that actually exists, whether previously referred to or not. This would be the distinction between: Is there a unicorn in the garden? (=> no assertion that unicorns exist) and There is a unicorn in the garden. (=> assertion that unicorns exist.) English has no way to distinguish these morphologically; only the context distinguishes them. (In Georgian, which generally lacks articles, the number _erti_ "one" is used as a referential indefinite article sometimes, though not obligatorily.) But getting back to your example, since all definites are also referential, perhaps your -a suffix is a genuine indefinitivizer, and your language lacks a definite article altogether. The definite reading could be drawn from the pragmatic inference that one did not use the indefinitivizer, splitting up the articles in a way opposite to English. Just an idea, though.
> Also, when writing the gloss do you indicate gender (which in > my case is a mix of formal vs. informal, and sentient vs. > non-sentient)? Or would this only be the case if you were > using an affix to indicate gender instead of a wholly different > and separate word?
I would not indicate gender in the morphemic breakdown unless it's actually needed in the morphosyntax. Thus, English has no gender in the sense of German, where gender is a formal rather than fuzzy feature of nouns, and so gender should not be marked in the breakdown, with the possible pragmatic exception of pronouns. ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637