LINGUIST List 9.1631

Tue Nov 17 1998

Disc: Morphosyntax

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Charles T. Scott, Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax
  2. JFThiels, Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax

Message 1: Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 10:30:42 -0600
From: Charles T. Scott <>
Subject: Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax

I didn't see the original query about morphosyntactic features either
(LINGUIT 9.1405), but I appreciate Larry Hutchinson's observations,
and support them. Various questions along the lines he suggests have
been puzzling me as well. I keep telling my History of the English
Language class that `gender' as a grammatical category simply refers
to a particular subcategorization of linguistic forms according to
some semantic feature, e.g. classifiers in Japanese according to
configurations of referents as cylindrical, flat, etc. So we might
think of masculine, feminine, neuter in this way as well. 

Why are these the features that seem to be particularly relevant to
Indo-European languages, and what is the basis for this kind of
subcategorization? If Temme has 24 `genders', then it is clear that
`gender' cannot refer just to sex. But where do the labels masculine,
feminine, neuter have their origin, and why? Similarly, how to deal
with the declensions of nouns (strong, weak, various minor ones)? 

Is there any parallel to declensional subcategorization in Present-Day
English? What is the status of the genitive -`s in English: an
inflectional suffix on nouns, as some texts assert? or on noun
phrases, as other texts assert? If on noun phrases (the queen of
England's hat), are there phrasal suffixes as well as word suffixes?
Japanese postpositions seem to correlate isomorphically with semantic
roles; what brings about the lack of such isomorphism with English
prepositions as (case, role) markers? I think there are lots of
questions about these matters, as Larry suggests.

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Message 2: Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax

Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 10:01:46 EST
From: JFThiels <>
Subject: Re: 9.1616, Disc: Morphosyntax

Just a quick discussion to the morphology discussion...there's an
interesting book: Semantic Superstructuring and Infrastructuring:
Nominal Class Struggle in ChiBemba by Debra Spitulnik which discusses
a noun classifier system in ChiBemba and the semantics...not exactly
syntax, but an interesting morphosemantic discussion.
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