dr_john_roberts at SIL.ORG
Mon Feb 6 10:05:19 UTC 2006
The article by Y. Malkiel "Studies in irreversible binominals" Lingua 8,
113-60. (1959) has been reprinted in Y. Malkiel (1968) Essays on Linguistic
Themes. Oxford: Blackwell. It is available from amazon.co.uk. I also have
not seen this text. However, there are useful descriptions of English
irreversable binominals in
Angus Maciver (1983) First Aid in English. Revised Edition. Glasgow: Gibson
& Sons. p. 29. (called "Doubles")
Angus Maciver (1986) The New First Aid in English. Revised Edition. Glasgow:
Gibson & Sons. p. 119. (called "Doubles")
Randolph Quirk, et. al. (1985) A Comprehensive Grammar of The English
Language. London: Longman. pp. 971, 1487.
D. A. Cruse (1986) Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
pp. 39-40, 47.
Howard Jackson (2002) Lexicography. An Introduction. London: Routledge. pp.
5, 86, 99.
But I do not know of any cross-linguistic comparative study in irreversible
binominals. Quirk (1985) et. al. say that it has been suggested the order of
the conjoined words in English binominals is constrained by either (a)
length of the words (longest last), (b) rhythm (long+short is preferred to
short+long rhythm), (c) semantic or cultural salience, e.g. father and son,
this and that, or (d) phonological constraints, e.g. low vowels follow high
vowels or back vowels follow front vowels. It would be interesting to know
which of these constraints apply primarily to irreversible binominals across
a range of languages.
For example, in Amele (Papuan) it would appear to be semantic or cultural
salience which is the primary constraint for the expression of paired
antonyms rather than the morphophonological shape of the words:
bagalan sosog=ca 'wide and narrow' (long-short) (front vowel-back
cecelac gohic=ca 'long and short' (long-short) (front vowel-back
manahal=fo cufunec=fo 'male or female' (front vowel-back vowel)
dunuh hahagum=ca 'inside and outside' (short-long) (back vowel-front
hudec menec=ca 'open and closed' (back vowel-front vowel)
lu=fo cahel=fo 'food aplenty or famine' (short-long) (back
Where there are different orders between the Amele pairings and the
equivalent pairings in English, it would also seem to be cultural prominence
that is the determining factor:
memegeil anagail=ca 'fathers and mothers' (English: mothers and fathers)
maha sao=ca 'earth and sky' (English: heaven and earth)
lili huhu ec 'to go (go go) and come (come come)'
(English: come and go)
Amele has head-last syntax compared to English head-first syntax and the
subordinate clause precedes the main clause in complex sentences. In Amele
nominal compounds involving nouns the final noun is usually the head of the
jo nah 'post of a house'
nah jo 'house of posts'
But the fact that Amele has head-last syntax and head-last nominal compound
morphology does not affect the ordering of irreversible binominals in the
How do irreversible binominals work in the language you are documenting?
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