LINGUIST List 11.669

Fri Mar 24 2000

Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Larry Trask, Re: 11.658, Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Message 1: Re: 11.658, Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 10:35:00 +0000
From: Larry Trask <larrytcogs.susx.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 11.658, Disc: Underlying Schwa?

Jorge Guitart writes:

> Is it possible to argue for a common lexical entry in the following
> ('non-clever') cases?
> 
> active- action
> additive-addition
> addictive-addiction
> consumptive-consumption
> indicative-indication
> 
> and also
> 
> permissive permission
> submissive submission
> persuasive persuasion
> etc.
> 
> All the adjectives have in common that the last sound of the stem is an
> anterior coronal obstruent
> All the nouns have in common that the last sound of the stem is a
> non-anterior coronal obstruent.
> If looks as if the nominal suffix moves the articulation one
> point back.
> 
> But maybe this 'movement' is illusory, a fantasy. In reality there is a
> static specification. There is no 'anterior becomes non anterior but
> rather 'it is anterior before iv and nonanterior before ion'. But WHAT is
> anterior before iv and non-anterior before ion? Answer: the last segment
> of the stem. The two members of each pair have that in common as well as
> the rest of the stem. And so it must be specified someplace in your head
> that the last segment of the stem is a coronal obstruent. The feature
> anterior is specified by the static specification. On each pair, the
> members have something in common that is phonological.
> 
> Why not think that this is what happens in native and nation, even though
> the speaker may not see the semantic relation?

Well, what is to stop us from reaching the same conclusion for, say, 
'stative' and 'station', which I would say are not related in English 
at all, even though they exhibit the same formal relationship as 
'native' and 'nation', and even though they derive ultimately from 
the same Latin stem?

For that matter, what is to stop us from arriving at a similar
analysis for 'confetti' and 'confession'? After all, both words
pertain to things done in or near churches, right? ;-)

Larry Trask
COGS
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
UK

larrytcogs.susx.ac.uk
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