LINGUIST List 9.1634

Wed Nov 18 1998

Disc: Morphosyntax

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


Directory

  1. Debus/Carrasquel, Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax
  2. Robert Beard, Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax
  3. mmoss, Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

Message 1: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 16:44:30 -0800
From: Debus/Carrasquel <mdebusix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

I just want to answer to Charles T. Scott's question about where the 
terms 'masculine', 'femenine', and 'neuter' might have come from. Just 
like a lot of the basic grammatical terms such as 'verb', adjective', and 
the like come from classical grammarians, our basic categorization of 
nouns into the three classes above must have been devised by Classical 
Latin and Classical Greek grammarians. 
	The fact that they grouped nouns according to 'femenine', 
'masculine' or neither, i.e. 'neuter', has to do with the anthropomorphic 
nature of language. Remember that language's primary function is to 
impose order, i.e. to categorize the seemingly chaotic and non-discrete 
world that our senses perceive, having us humans as the axis around which 
that chaotic world revolves. 
	Thus, in Classical Latin's times, the plethora of nouns that 
happen to end with -a such as 'sapientia' meaning 'wisdom' and 'porta' 
meaning 'door' were explained as nouns which follow the adjective 
agreement pattern or declension of nouns of femenine entities such as 
'femina' meaning 'woman', and 'amica' meaning 'female friend.' Likewise 
some nouns ending in -us such as 'populus' meaning 'nation/people' and 
'oculus' meaning 'eye' were explained as following the adjective 
agreement pattern of nouns for masculine entities such as 'amicus' 
meaning 'male friend'. Yet some other nouns such as 'tempus' meaning 
'time' and 'bellum' meaning 'war' were observed to follow the declension 
of neither masculine nor femenine entities, thus this third category of 
nouns was labeled 'neuter' in juxtaposition with the anthropomorhic 
distinction of 'femenine/masculine.' Jose Carrasquel.
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Message 2: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 21:13:37 -0500
From: Robert Beard <rbeardbucknell.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

While the issue of morphsyntactic features is an interesting one, it is not
one that has been totally ignored (though not as much can be said about the
literature on it). Much has been written about them by the handful of
morphologists in the US and a larger contingent in Europe, swimming upstream
to current linguistic trends. One of the focuses of the work of P.H.
Matthews, S. R. Anderson, Aronoff, Spencer, Corbett, Stump, Zwicky,
Szymanek, Lieber, myself, and others has been the nature of these features.
In "Lexeme-Morpheme Base Morphology" (SUNY 1995) I try to catalog as many as
possible and establish their relation to the line between semantics and
grammar. (The evidence I collected suggests that they are grammatical, not
semantic.) We have pretty much separated natural gender from grammatical
gender and defined them in more or less defensible ways. Matthews has made a
major distinction between categories, properties, and functions, placing
functions in the realm of semantics. Anderson (to whom we may owe the term)
places them syntax, although curiously persistent evidence also links them
with derivational morphology.

It would, indeed, be an fascinating exercise to extend the conversation
about these crucial categories of language beyond the handful named above.
Should we decide to do so, however, we would not be setting out in
a vacuum. More specific questions could get us started.

- Bob

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Robert Beard, Director . . . Linguistics Program
rbeardbucknell.edu . . . 717-524-1336
Bucknell University . . .
http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/rbeard/diction.html
Lewisburg, PA 17837. . . http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian
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Message 3: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

Date: 18 Nov 98 08:25:42 +0100
From: mmoss <mmossdab.microsun.com.pl>
Subject: Re: 9.1631, Disc: Morphosyntax

There are some interesting works to read in the field of morphosyntax
from the generative point of view.

Lieber 1992 Deconstructing Morphology (and her earlier doctoral
dissertation (1982) - an attempt to show that syntactic structures
hold at the Sub lexical category level

Selkirk 1982 The Syntax of Words - does something similar to the title
above.

Aronoff 1994 Morphology by Itself - An attempt to localize the role of
morphology and distinguish it from syntax. In depth discussion of
several languages with complex gender and theme structures.


There are many more titles available obviously, but these are a few
that made an impression on me.


Hope that's helpful,

Mike
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