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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Fundamentality of Word Classes?
Submitter: Jess Tauber
Description: Are word class distinctions fundamental in the lexicon, or the result of
historical processes? Must roots belong to one class or another, or can
underspecification be the norm when new roots are created, as for instance
by lexicalization of ideophones.

Morphosyntax seems to be the commonest means to disambiguate class- by
affixation, compounding, or position. Yet today's 'roots' may be the result
of fusion with old morphology. As such, are old derived distinctions
percolating into the lexicon, only to be lost later as the echoes of the
processes which created them are forgotten?

If this is the case, might morphosyntactic typology be able to tell us more
about it? Do 'nouny' or 'verby' have ambiguity in different places in the
lexicon, or those rich in ideophones or grams?

Jess Tauber
Date Posted: 17-Jul-2007
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Historical Linguistics
Linguistic Theories
LL Issue: 18.2168
Posted: 17-Jul-2007

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