LINGUIST List 5.16

Mon 03 Jan 1994

Sum: Harris and word-order

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  1. , Kind of Summary: Harris on Word Order

Message 1: Kind of Summary: Harris on Word Order

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 15:39:38 ESKind of Summary: Harris on Word Order
From: <>
Subject: Kind of Summary: Harris on Word Order

I recently posted a query regarding Zellig Harris's treatment of
word order. While none of the replies received answered the
question, I would like to thank all those kind souls who wrote
in to suggest that I reread Harris's whole corpus of syntactic
descriptions. I should also say that once again LINGUIST generated
an amazing response, in this case a person who perhaps would not
like to be named publicly actually offered to give me her copy of
one of the collections of Harris's papers.

As to the question, having reread a lot of Harris, I very slowly
realized that his treatments of both syntax and morphology in
the form of explicit formulae did NOT handle word order AT ALL.
They were intended to capture the facts of permissible morpheme
sequences without paying attention to the actual order of the
morphemes and morpheme sequences. I am not sure that he was
really consistent in this, but that's apparently what he was
doing. This is, of course, why there seems to be no discussion
of free word order. I should add that this only applies to work
published before 1956, which is the only work I was interested
in (stuff done before the birth of TG). I have not checked to
see what he did later. It may be of interest to note that other
American linguists working within the same tradition as Harris
(Bloomfield, Bloch, etc.) did explicitly talk about both fixed
and free word order, but they, unlike Harris, did not provide
explicit formulae for syntactic constructions.
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