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Re: Unilang: the Morphology

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Sunday, April 22, 2001, 2:01
Andreas wrote:

Why not?  Russian has both `s' and `k' as prepositions.  :-) And
>>prepositions are very close to case endings in agglutinating languages >>(-> Finno-Ugric). > >I know of that Russian habit, but I thought they were just WRITTEN by >themselves. If they're truly independent words, then I assume they're >actually pronounced as [s@] and [k@], or perhaps [@s] and [@k]?
They have an underlying vowel (formally called a 'jer'), that is usually deleted at the surface but can appear in the appropriate contexts. (Information provided by my roommate, a native Russian-speaking linguist). On the topic of independent words, not all words in all languages have a vowel. Pima, for example, has a perfective marker <t> (pronounced as an interdental stop), which can occur without a vowel. It cliticizes onto either a preceding or following word, depending on the context of the sentence.
>I am, of course, operating on the theory that a 'word' is an speech unit >that can be pronounced by itself and is "complete". According to this >definition, the reduced forms of the English copula (-'m, -'re, -'s) aren't >proper words - you won't say [z] in isolation if asked what the 3rd sg >present of 'to be' is. If that Russian {s} is pronounced as part of the >preceeding or following word, I won't consider it a 'word' on its own, but >rather as an affix.
So, English possessive -'s is an affix that attaches to any part of speech what-so-ever, providing that the phrase containing the word is headed by a noun, and that the noun is the possessor of another noun? A serious problem in linguistics that few people have addressed is that there is no decent definition of what a "word" is. Phonological definitions run afoul of the syntactic data, and vice versa. Marcus Smith "Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatsoever abysses Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing." -- Thomas Huxley