Appeal: Inflectional morphology cross-linguistic database
daniel.nettle at MERTON.OXFORD.AC.UK
Thu May 22 10:40:15 UTC 1997
Inflectional Morphology Database
What's the point of inflectional morphology anyway?
I am currently interested in looking at how the distinctions expressed
morphologically in languages with rich systems of morphological marking are
realised in languages which lack it, if they are. In a language such as
Mangarayi (Merlan 1982) where inflectional morphology is highly developed,
morphology takes over almost all the marking of grammatical relations from
syntax, but it also does much more. Nominal morphology replaces the category
of PP, and allows pronouns in many sentences to be dropped, whilst verbal
inflection replaces not only tense and aspect marking words but some adverbs.
The questions which obviously arise are: (a) diachronically, why do some
languages come to achieve morphologically what others do syntactically;
and (b) synchronically, what are the systemic consequences of having more
or less developed inflection.
I am appealing for help in building up a cross-linguistic database relevant
to these issues. The data required are a set of simple sentences translated
into a large number of different languages. The languages I am interested are
listed below. They are drawn from a standard cross-linguistic sampling frame.
I would like data from as many of them as possible, though I appreciate that
in practice only a small proportion can be done.
To respond for a particular language requires both competence in the language
(or access to native speakers) AND linguistic expertise on it (since
phonological transcription and interlinear glosses are required). I will be
extremely grateful if readers can contribute on languages with which they are
familiar. I will post results on the Internet and also make the data available
to anyone who contributes and is interested. The questionnaire is available
from my website at:
- or by e-mailing me at:
Daniel.Nettle at merton.ox.ac.uk
- or by post from:
OX1 4JD, UK.
Many thanks in anticipation to all!
List of languages follows (sorry all the diacritics are lost):
South and South-East Asian Languages
Languages from New Guinea and Oceania
Kuniyanti / Gooniyandi
Ungarinjin / Ngarinjin
Western Desert / Pintupi
Central and South American Languages
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