LINGUIST List 3.21

Tue 07 Jan 1992

Disc: Diachronic Lengthening

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  1. bert peeters, 2.886 Lengthening and shortening
  2. "Randy J. LaPolla", Re: 2.886 Queries: deictics, `hoozier,' scanning

Message 1: 2.886 Lengthening and shortening

Date: Mon, 6 Jan 92 9:38:25 EST 2.886 Lengthening and shortening
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: 2.886 Lengthening and shortening

> Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1991 02:12:49 PST
> From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
>
> Now, as I understand it, words have
> tended to shorten in the evolution of many languages, such as English
> and the Romance languages. Is there any language in which words have
> evolved into *longer* forms?

Words couldn't shorten for ever, otherwise they would end up disappearing
altogether. Clearly, we have some sort of cyclic movement here, which I
will illustrate with Latin and French (by the way, a classic textbook
example).

Demonstratives in Latin: HIC - HAEC - HOC
 ISTE - ISTA - ISTUD
 ILLE - ILLA - ILLUD

(By the way, this system clearly contradicts the iconic principle identi-
fied in another posting by another LINGUIST-reader: HIC = proximity to
the speaker / ISTE = proximity to the addressee / ILLE = proximity to
some third party)

In Gallo-Romance, only two series survive (the second and the third one),
and the remaining ones are reinforced by means of the particle ECCE (cf.
ECCE HOMO). We obtain things such as ECCILLE and ECCISTE.

The former is at the basis of MFr celui/celle/ceux/celles (stressed accusative
forms of 'cil' < ECCILLE - notice the shortening)

The latter is at the basis of MFr ce/cet/cette/ces (here as well, the short-
ening has been rather obvious).

Details in any historical French grammar.
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 207813
GPO Box 252C Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
Hobart TAS 7001
Australia
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Message 2: Re: 2.886 Queries: deictics, `hoozier,' scanning

Date: Wed, 8 Jan 92 10:17 U
From: "Randy J. LaPolla" <HSLAPOLLAtwnas886.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 2.886 Queries: deictics, `hoozier,' scanning

Don Webb asks 'Is there any language in which words have
evolved into *longer* forms?'
I know of at least one language (the Qiang lg. of Tibeto-Burman) where
there is clear evidence of a large number of words developing out of
the collapse of two separate words, thereby adding final consonants and
consonant clusters to a lg. that otherwise wouldn't have them. James
A. Matisoff (UC Berkeley) speaks of this type of thing as a tendency in
South-East Asian (and possibly universally), that is, that lgs. lose
phonological bulk through erosion, but then find ways (collapsing words
or adding prefixes or going bisyllabic) to restore the phonological bulk.

Randy LaPolla
Institute of History & Philology
Academia Sinica
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