analyzability [was versatility]

A. Katz amnfn at
Mon Mar 21 17:54:22 UTC 2011

On Mon, 21 Mar 2011, Suzanne Kemmer wrote:
> In any case, morphological analyzability in English and Hebrew
> should be investigated with regard to frequency and other such lexical considerations
> (whether or not one component is a bound morpheme comes to mind),
> as has been discussed already in the thread, but also in the context of their very different types of
> morphological structure.  Comparing languages of more similar
> morphological structure would be a better start than directly comparing English with Hebrew.
> There are so many other variables, like education, background etc. that would factor
> in but probably some  generalizations could be drawn. Putting 'relative numbers of loanwords'
> into the mix would be pretty complex for many reasons, but it could be looked at.
> Right now, no linguist is going to
> take up the simple story of the loanwords given what we know about other
> factors that demonstrably affect analyzability.
> SK


I am in complete agreement with you that the subject of psychological 
opacity or tranparency should be investigated with regard to frequency.
I am hoping that some of Batia Seroussi's research, which I am looking 
into, will shed more light on the subject. But I also think that 
regularity in the lexical system is a factor, and that this factor can 
best be studied in the context of languages with dramatically different 
typologies as far as lexical cohesion is concerned.

I would disagree with the idea that whether or not one component 
is bound is of much importance to this issue. This is why I look at data 
from languages that have different typologies as to boundedness in lexeme 
formation. Mandarin has components that remain phonologically independent, 
even when they are part of a multimorphemic lexeme. Hebrew has 
discontinuous roots, and almost every lexical derivation requires 
resyllabification and reducation of syllables that are too far removed 
from the stress. Nevertheless, both Hebrew and Mandarin enjoy componential 
transparency to a much greater degree than English.

Does education play a role in being able to parse a word? Of course, it 
does. To read more about how literacy affect lexicality, you might want to 
look at this paper:



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