LINGUIST List 29.321
Thu Jan 18 2018
Calls: Morphology, Phonology, Syntax/Peru
Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <kenlinguistlist.org>
Rik van Gijn <erik.vangijn
Morphosyntactic Misfits: Clitics, Particles, and
Non-canonical Affixes in the Languages of the Americas E-mail this
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Full Title: Morphosyntactic Misfits: Clitics,
Particles, and Non-canonical Affixes in the Languages of the Americas
Date: 23-Jul-2018 - 25-Jul-2018
Location: Lima, Peru
Rik van Gijn
Meeting Email: <
click here to access email >
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Phonology; Syntax
Convenors: Roberto Zariquiey (PUCP
Lima) & Rik van Gijn (University of Zurich)
Keynote speaker: Balthasar Bickel
(University of Zurich)
In the traditional, dichotomic division of coding
systems in language between morphology and syntax, linguistic units are ideally
either morphological or syntactic in nature. This perspective on linguistic
organization has generated a vast literature in which linguistic units are
classified as one or the other based on checklists (see e.g. Dixon & Aikhenvald
2002, Haspelmath 2011 for discussion). The main idea expressed in those checklists
is that relations between units in a morphological construction are tight and rigid,
whereas relations between units in a syntactic construction are loose and flexible.
It has been recognized by many scholars for a long time (e.g. Dixon 1977,
Zwicky 1977) that the dichotomic approach is problematic in that there are many
elements that do not fit neatly into one of the two categories. This is mainly due
to the fact that rigidity and tightness are measured across different dimensions
(Bickel 2007). A prototypical morphological element, for instance, is often
described as having the following characteristics, that span a variety of
- Lexically restricted host selection
interaction with host (prosodic, morphophonological)
- Morphological interaction
- Rigid positioning with respect to its host
- Non-manipulable by
Because of this multi-dimensionality, even if we can define
prototypical or idealized morphological and syntactic units, elements can deviate
from these idealizations in many ways (see e.g. Anderson 2006, Spencer & Luís 2014,
Van Gijn & Zúñiga 2016, Bickel & Zúñiga 2017). This has led to considerable
terminological confusion, in which elements with similar behavior are classified
differently and elements with different behavior are classified in the same way.
Testimony to the terminological confusion are, furthermore, the many different terms
that have been proposed for these ''morphosyntactic misfits'', which include simple
clitics, special clitics, phrasal clitics, phrasal affixes, non-cohering affixes,
Wackernagel clitics, Wackernagel affixes, clause-final particles, clause-initial
particles, Wackernagel particles, etc.
For the Americanist descriptive
tradition, with its many (poly)synthetic languages this problem is particularly
relevant, and likely to frustrate fruitful morphological comparison across
languages. At the same time, South American languages can be highly informative to
shaping our ideas of the possible variation within this group of so-called
morphosyntactic misfits (see e.g. Van Gijn & Zúñiga 2014).
2005. Aspects of the theory of clitics. Oxford: OUP.
Bickel, B. 2007. Typology
in the 21st century: major current developments. Linguistic Typology 11. 239-251.
Bickel, B. & F. Zúñiga. 2017. The 'word' in polysynthetic languages:
phonological and syntactic challenges. In M. Fortescue, M. Mithun & N. Evans (eds.),
The handbook of polysynthesis, 158-185. Oxford: OUP.
Dixon, R. 1977. Some
phonological rules in Yidiny. Linguistic Inquiry 8(1), 1-34.
Dixon, R. & A.
Aikhenvald, (Eds.) 2002. Word: a cross-linguistic typology. Cambridge: CUP.
R. van & F. Zúñiga. 2014. Word and the americanist perspective. Morphology 24 (3).
Haspelmath, M. 2011. The indeterminacy of word segmentation and the
nature of morphology and syntax. Folia Linguistica 45(1), 31-80.
Spencer, A. &
A. Luís. 2012. The canonical clitic. In D. Brown, M. Chumakina & G. Corbett (eds.),
Canonical morphology and syntax, 123-150. Oxford: OUP.
Zwicky, A. 1977. On
clitics. Bloomington: IULC.
Call for Papers:
We call for papers
that, rather than trying to classify elements, focus on highlighting the parameters
of variation within a language or across languages. Questions we would like to
address include the following (although they are not restricted to this list):
- Is the dichotomic distinction between morphological and syntactic elements
sufficient to describe the variation of morphosyntactic units of a language or
- To what extent are notions such as ''word'', ''affix'',
''clitic'', ''particle'' useful for comparative or descriptive purposes?
parameters are required to describe the variation among morphosyntactic units in a
language or language family?
- How are these parameters distributed over
different elements in a language or language families?
- How do properties of
morphosyntactic units evolve diachronically?
- How do properties of
morphosyntactic units interact with their borrowability?
- What inconsistencies
are found in descriptions of morphosyntactic units across languages and how can they
Please send your abstract to misfitslima2018
gmail.com before 15
April 2018. Notification will be given on 25 April 2018.
Page Updated: 18-Jan-2018