the 2011 abstract that started the discussion

Monica Macaulay mmacaula at WISC.EDU
Thu Nov 1 20:59:31 UTC 2012

Hi all,

Here's the abstract that Amy & I wrote for the roundtable at *last year's* Algonquian Conference, that started the discussion that was continued this year at the morpholunch.  Just as an FYI.

We can also send around the handouts, too, but they're kind of long to paste in, so we might need to attach them as pdfs.

- Monica (and Amy)

Roundtable: what is the morphological status of “initial, medial, final”? Amy Dahlstrom, University of Chicago
Monica Macaulay, University of Wisconsin, Madison

The Algonquianist terms INITIAL, MEDIAL, and FINAL are commonly used in traditional descriptions of the languages of the family for the internal components of the verb stem. However, if one wants to analyze Algonquian morphology in more theoretical terms, it is sometimes difficult to identify the morphological status of stem-internal components.

To be sure, in many cases the initial, medial and final are comprised of exactly one morpheme each (e.g. Meskwaki ki·škinehke·šw- ‘cut off (object’s) hand’, with initial ki·šk- ‘sever’, medial -inehke·- ‘hand’, and TA final -ešw ‘by cutting’): such examples are not problematic. The more challenging cases are those stems which exhibit what are traditionally analyzed as DERIVED INITIALS, DERIVED MEDIALS, or DERIVED FINALS (Bloomfield 1962, Goddard 1990). That is, an entire verb stem may appear as an initial (e.g. Meskwaki anehka·we·we·nem- ‘think (object) is acquainted with (second object)’, with (simple, non-derived) TA final -e·nem- ‘think of (object)’ in construction with an initial derived from the verb stem anehka·w- ‘be acquainted with’.

In the presentation the roundtable organizers will present brief statements, including a statement of the issues and examples of the data we find challenging to translate into mainstream theoretical analyses, and invite the audience to engage in an exchange of views regarding the status of these Algonquianist concepts.


Bloomfield, Leonard. 1962. The Menomini language, ed. by Charles F. Hockett. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Goddard, Ives. 1990. Primary and secondary stem derivation in Algonquian. IJAL 56:449-483. 

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