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Re: Ablaut and Infix Origins

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Sunday, February 24, 2008, 7:29
On Feb 23, 2008, at 10:28 PM, Jeffrey Jones wrote:

> I don't really understand how ablaut and infixing come about. I've > been trying > to find information online with good explanations without any > significant > success. I found one paper on the theory of infix origins but it > was very > Chomskyan. Another summarized the different types but didn't give a > me "feel" > for it. There seems to be even less satisfactory information on > ablaut origins. > Apparently all the existing ablaut systems came about thousands of > years ago. > Any ideas? > > Jeff
Funny you'd mention that -- I finally got around to reading some of _A natural history of infixation_, by Alan C. L. Yu (Amazon: <http:// 019927939X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203837054&sr=8-1>). It talks about four origins: metathesis; entrapment; reduplication mutation; and morphological excrescence and prosodic stem association. For ablaut, you might follow Guy Deutscher's hypothetical model of some features of Semitic morphology in his _The unfolding of language_ (Amazon: < Deutscher/dp/0099460254/ref=sr_1_1? ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203837261&sr=1-1>). His scenario depends on sound changes in vowels caused by adjacent consonants (such as pharyngeals), which then spread by analogy. Finally, I know of a short paper by Adrian Macelaru called "Compensatory Metathesis as a Source of Nonconcatenative Morphology: Semitic Evidence". There used to be a Google-cached copy of it somewhere on the web, but unfortunately I can't find it now. As the title suggests, it implicates metathesis, but in this case it's compensatory -- where, e.g., the loss of a final vowel happens at the same time that some echo of that vowel occurs inside the word. Maybe if we can find him we can ask him for a copy; he seemed very nice, but busy. Infixes, ablaut, and nonconcatenative morphology are some of my favorite morphological things.


Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>