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Re: THEORY: Roots and stems

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, June 25, 2004, 19:18
On Friday, June 25, 2004, at 05:07 , David Peterson wrote:

> Joerg wrote: > > <<For example, in the English word form _players_, the stem is > _player_, but the root is _play_.>> > > A very good example. 
Maybe. However... Trask defines the two thus: [root] "In morphology, the simplest possible form of a lexical morpheme, upon which all other bound and free forms involving that morpheme are based." [stem] "In morphology, a bound form of a lexical item which typically consists of a root to which one or more morphological morphemes have been added and serves as the immediate base for the formation of some further form or set of forms." [base] "In morphology, a morph, variously consisting of a root, a stem or a word, which serves, upon the addition of a further morpheme, as the immediate source of some particular formation: thus, for example, _happy_ is the base for formation of both _unhappy_ and _happily_, while _unhappy_ is the base for the formation of both _unhappily_ and _unhappiness_." (Trask does also note that in some derivational theories of grammar, in particular the Transformational Grammar and the Government-Binding theories, 'base' is used to denote that part of a grammar - if I've understood aright: a set of categorical rules & the lexicon - which is responsible for generating underlying representations of a sentence.) English 'player' is not a bound morpheme, so by Trask's definition, it is not the stem of 'players', it the base of 'players'. But there is no doubt IMO that 'play' is the root.
> I'd just like to add that a confusion exists > because even linguists use these words in different ways--some- > times because different linguists have different definitions; some- > times by accident; and some even use the words interchangeably.
Clearly it would be useful for a linguist to make it clear if s/he were using 'stem' to mean both what Trask calls 'stem' and 'base' or whether s/ he is using them with the different meanings. If 'base' (or, indeed, 'stem' ) is being used with a technical meaning associated with some actual linguistic theory like TG or GB, then this should IMHO be made clear. But to use the words interchangeably is not what I would consider to be helpful, nor does it seem to me to display rigor of scholarship. But i return the stricter definitions given by Trask. The vast majority of Latin verbs have all their many different moods, tenses. persons etc derived regularly once three stems are known and we know which set of endings (i.e. which conjugation) to use. These are always deducible from what are called the 'principle parts' (of, if they are not deducible, i.e. the verb really is irregular, the principles parts also make that clear). I won't go into the business of principle parts, as such. The three stems are traditionally called the present stem, perfect stem, supine stem. Examples: From the root tag- (touch), are derived: - present stem: tang- (with nasal infix) - perfect stem: tetig- (with initial reduplication and weakening of unstressed /a/ --> /i/) - supine stem: tact- (<-- *tagt- with formative suffix -t-) From the root scrib- (write), are derived: - present stem: scrib- (with zeo affix) - perfect stem: scrips- (<-- *scribs- with formative suffix -s- ) - supine stem: script- From the root cre- (grow), are derived: - present stem: cresc- (with formative suffix -sc- ) - prefect stem: creu- /kre:w/ (with formative suffix -u- ) - supine stem: cret- But from these stem, other stems are also derived, e.g. from the present stem tang- is derive the stem of the imperfect indicative, namely: tengeba-; from this are derived the actual words: tengebam (I was touching) , tangebas (you were touching), tangebat (s/he was touching) etc. From the perfect stem is derived the strem of perfect subjunctive: tetgeri-. Thus the actual forms: tetigerim, tetigeris, tetigerit etc. Similarly from the supine stem, we derive the stem of the future active participle, namely: tactur-. To this stem are attached the adjective endings of the 1st & 2nd declensions, so the singular nominatives are: tacturus (m.), tactura (f.), tacturum (n.) ...and so on. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760