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Re: THEORY: THEORY isolating & other typologies (was: THEORY: Ergativity and polypersonalism)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, January 22, 2005, 7:26
On Friday, January 21, 2005, at 11:11 , Tristan McLeay wrote:
> > Oh, I knew that... I just didn't realise a clitic didn't count for > giving the language a genitive/possessive.
I think we need to be careful about terminology. A clitic will not give a _genitive case_ - that needs an affix as in the Latin & Greek genitive cases. The affix may be of the fusional or agglutinating type. But 'gentive' or 'possessive' as adjective are often applied to constructions expressing the same idea. For example, in Welsh the following is often called the 'genitive construction': llyf y bachgen book the boy = the boy's book The Welsh construction is purely isolating
> That's really why I asked > the next question I asked, even though you didn't answer it :) But I > spose I did get an answer---clitics are 'words', whatever that means, > so the existence of them only makes the language even more, not less, > isolating.
I think so. [snip]
>> As I have observed recently, natlangs have the horrible habit of not >> fitting neatly into these typologies of 19th century linguists. > > Yeah, but typologies of 19th century linguists are still useful for > giving generalisations to help understand the general nature of a > language.
Yes - as long as it is understood that they are _generalizations_. [snip]
>> Yes, to be agglutinating, the bound morphemes must be affixes. But the >> borderline between clitics and affixes is IMO a tad fuzzy. > > Another of those 19th-century-linguist confusions? or is it 20th > century this time? :)
No, we can't blame the 19th cent linguists this time. And the idea of clitics and affixes is fairly ancient. The word _enklitikos_ was used by the ancient Greek grammarians and _enclticus_ is found in Latin. The words _proclitic_ may well be 19th century and I think the general term _clitic_ may be 20th cent. What I meant is that with most it is quite clear. the English "the" is a clitic, not an affix. The Latin genitive plural -orum is an affix, not a clitic. But there words on the borderline; for example, are the French verbal pro-complements cltics or affixes? The analogy I have use is: Everyone agrees Paris is French and Berlin is German; but there has been a lot of doubt over the centuries which side of border Strasb(o)urg is. I meant the borderline between the two is fuzzy - and that's natlangs which are to blame :)
> >>> It's been said that an extremely agglutinating language is >>> indistinguishible >>> from an extremely isolating one, tho. >> >> Depending where put the white spaces, I suppose :) > > I would've thought you'd be able to tell based on where everything > goes...
I agree - notice the smiley.
>> Personally, I have doubts. It would be interesting see an example. > > Indeed.
Yep - if there's anyone out there that holds the opinion that an extremely agglutinating language is indistinguishable from an extremely isolating one, let him/her give an example or two :) Ray ======================================================= ======================================================= "If /ni/ can change into /A/, then practically anything can change into anything" Yuen Ren Chao, 'Language and Symbolic Systems"