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Re: THEORY: French and polypersonalism (was: THEORY: Ergativity and polypersonalism)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, January 21, 2005, 18:51
On Thursday, January 20, 2005, at 10:25 , # 1 wrote:

> ok let's forget what I said about that story...
OK. But may I give one or two bits of advice - and I do this to be _helpful_. Avoid writing things like "Your examples are wrong"; it is too agressive and makes people react negatively. Try to say things like: "It is my understanding that....", "I think that..." and IMO (in my opinion) is quite useful :) Secondly, try to get away from simplistic 'school text' definitions and get hold of wider linguistic notions. I am sure there are some good books in French on general linguistics. [snip]
> I'd like to bring another argument: I still think it is generalising to > think that a such polypersonnal definition is applicable
Certainly French verbs are not always polypersonal in the way that, for example, they are in the Bantu languages. But in modern spoken French they often are. [snip]
> I agree that the subject pronoun could be considered as a prefix most of > the > time but not the object morpheme wich appears only in the case that the > object isn't a pronoun,
I agree that the object pronoun is not always expressed - tho there is a tendency in the spoken language to use it even when a noun object follows. It may well be that Québec French is more conservative and does not do this. But when the object pronoun (whether direct object or indirect object) is expressed it is prefixed.
> and because it goes between the subject and the verb, the subject is > probably not a prefix neither
Yes, it is. Any affix that is placed before the root morpheme is a prefix. So, for example, in the English word "antidisestablishmentarian" (qui oppose la séparation de ''Église et de l'État) both 'anti' and 'dis' are prefixes; the root morpheme is 'establish'. [snip]
> How would these analysis of the spoken French analyse a sentence like > > /SpAlA/(I'm not there) > > alone the [S] means the present first person singular of the verb to be > > [pA] means negation > > [lA] means "there" > > > I'm not sure any one-sound-prefix could contain as much information,
Oh yes it can - there are plenty of examples from actual languages, especially the polysynthetic ones.
> a linguist analysing it as a new language without knowing any european > language would probably deduce it is a reduced form of a few words..
Not all - there is no reason to do that; and many languages (e.g. Russian) have no word to 'to be', especially in the present tense.
> please give me one of these website where you say you've found these > polypersonnal analysis of spoken french,
Mainly in books over many years & from discussions on Conlang. I doubt whether you would find a site where it speaks just of a polypersonal analysis, but rather a polysynthetic analysis. I suggest searching for 'French +polysynthetic' or 'Français +polysynthetique'. Or you could email Jacques Guy himself. I am sure he could give you some good pointers and probably suggest some French books on linguistics as well. I believe his email address is j, Bonne chance! Ray ======================================================= ======================================================= "If /ni/ can change into /A/, then practically anything can change into anything" Yuen Ren Chao, 'Language and Symbolic Systems"