LINGUIST List 2.812

Fri 22 Nov 1991

Disc: Inflection/Derivation; Focus

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Mike Hammond, Russsian reflexive
  2. , Re: 2.770 Queries
  3. Kenesei Istvan, Focus
  4. Herb Stahlke, Origin of Focus

Message 1: Russsian reflexive

Date: Sun, 17 Nov 91 19:47 MST
From: Mike Hammond <>
Subject: Russsian reflexive
I've just noticed a flurry of discussion on whether the Russian
reflexive ending s'a/s' is a problem for the claim that inflection
always follows derivation.
I have a paper on the general issue of bracketing paradoxes that deals
with this question and discusses the Russian case specifically. The
paper is to appear in the next issue of _Yearbook_of_Morphology_.
(4?). The basic idea I explore is that many of these cases can be
dealt with by enriching the theory of prosodic morphology (McCarthy
and Prince, 1990 [NLLT]) so that it can target morphemes in addition
to prosodic units.
Mike Hammond
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 2.770 Queries

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 91 22:09:40 -0500
From: <>
Subject: Re: 2.770 Queries
John Nerbonne asks, in 2.770
> My question is rather, assuming the plausibility of an inflection/derivation
> distinction, can one make sense of the Russian s'/s'a as anything but a
> counterexample to Greenberg's 28th?
I agree with the validity of this example, but others might not accept the
argument that s'a is derivational, and clearer cases are not too hard to find.
I discussed 3 in a paper "Inflectional within Derivation" in Linguistic
Review (1984) (and would be glad to send offprints to anyone interested).
The best, I think, is Georgian, where inflectional prefix intervene between
clearly derivational prefixes and the root. Anderson in recent work has tried
to refine the Greenberg's prediction so that cases like Georgian can be
accomodated, but there's no doubt that it's a counterexample to the clear,
simple statement that Greenberg gives.
Similar cases arise in the Iroquoian and Athapascan language families;
see "Here and There in Oneida" by Cliff Abbot in IJAL(81) and "On the placement
of Inflection" by Keren Rice in LI(85), respectively.
Cases of the sort mentioned by David Stampe in 2.786 of this list are
also persuasive from my point of view, but because the derivational
suffix has a syntactic function, they're more subject to fiddling with
the relation between the components of the grammar. In the Georgian,
Iroquoian and Athapascan cases the prefixes frequently have arbitrary
lexicalized meanings, so that they are derivational by any criteria I
can imagine.
Possibly universal status can be saved by attempts like Anderson's to refine
the claim, but otherwise I think it's clear that the nesting of inflectional
material outside derivational material is a strong statistical tendency
rather than a Universal.
 Harry Bochner
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Focus

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 91 17:38:00
From: Kenesei Istvan <>
Subject: Focus
Re: Focus
It might be of interest that Barbara M.H. Strang in her Modern
English Structure (Edward Arnold, London; first ed.: 1962) uses
the term "focus of attention" precisely in the sense "contrastive
focus" is used today, and in the examples even abbreviates it as
"focus" (notation somewhat simplified):
I want to go (focus, _go_)
 3- 2-4 [numbers stand for intonation contours]
I want to go (focus, _want_)
3- 2 -4
 I want to go (focus, _I_)
(p. 53)
Note that in the second edition (1968), the relevant section has
been altered to "focus contrastive attention" (p. 64).
Istvan Kenesei
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Origin of Focus

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1991 08:45 EST
Subject: Origin of Focus
 	Kenneth Pike discusses focus at some length in his _Language
in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior,
Second, Revised Edition_ (Mouton 1967). The preliminary edition
appeared in 1954, (Part I) 1955 (Part II), and 1960 (Part III),
published by the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Glendale (now
Santa Ana), California, but I don't have a copy and I don't know how
extensively focus was discussed in that edition.
Herb Stahlke
Ball State University
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue