[Lingtyp] Resources on glossing choices

Lindsey, Kate klindsey at bu.edu
Mon Dec 30 18:30:27 EST 2019


Hi all,

I’m looking for resources and/or discussion on analytical choices in how much information to gloss, especially with regards to consistency in a reference grammar. (I searched the archive and didn’t see anything recently about this.)

I’m working with a language that has quite complex verbal morphology, where information is distributed and cumulative across multiple morphemes. Each morpheme has many possible meanings, that can only be determined based on the other morphemes in the word. Any given morpheme may also have meanings across many different domains (agreement, TAM, etc.). There seem to be several approaches: gloss all possible meanings for that morpheme (no matter the form), gloss only the possible meanings for that morpheme (in the given form), or gloss only the intended meanings (given the entire context). This is without even getting into historical meanings of the morpheme! These choices result in either an avalanche or dearth of potentially useful information. However, my main concern is consistency and a principled way of restricting my glosses to a practical and informative amount of meanings.

Thank you for your advice,
Kate

For those interested in a concrete example in Ende – see below.

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Some examples of my glossing issues are in Table 1. The glosses of some morphemes are straightforward, i.e. go- = remote past, -g- = perfective auxiliary, -n = durative. However…

(1)    Should the subject suffix –eya be glossed one way in the remote past form (1|2duS) and another way in the future tense form (1duS)? Or should a combination of the meanings be presented for both? In transitive forms, -eya indexes 1|2nsgA in the remote past and 1nsgA in the future. Again, should the meanings be combined for consistency across valencies/tenses or should a different gloss be used within each form?

(2)    Should a- in the future tense be glossed as recent past (to maintain consistency with the recent past forms) or future.2, as the recent past allomorph is selected only for 2nd person subjects (or 2nd person objects in transitive forms), but in so doing losing its connection to the recent past within the gloss?

(3)    When the remote past/future subject suffix –eya is preceded by the durative suffix –n, the recent past allomorph is used instead.

(4)    In some transitive verbs, the agent agreement is marked in the prefix (where objects are typically marked) not the suffix, and the subject suffix is a dummy morpheme, fixed as –eyo not agreeing with 3nsgA but just standing in in the paradigm. In these cases, should the morpheme in these cases be glossed as 3nsgA (even though it is a dummy morph) or glossed as dummy in some way?

(5)    Just in general, should the subject suffixes include tense in their glossing? Sometimes (e.g., a-g-eyo), the subject suffix is necessary for determining the tense of the form.

Table 1 – -g- ‘perfective auxiliary’

Remote past
Recent past
Future
1duS
go-g-eya
a-g-alla
bo-g-eya
2duS
go-g-eya
a-g-alla
a-g-eyo
3duS
go-g-eyo
a-g-allo
bo-g-eyo
1duS.dur
go-g-n-alla
a-g-n-alla
bo-g-n-alla
2duS.dur
go-g-n-alla
a-g-n-alla
a-g-n-eyo
3duS.dur
go-g-n-eyo
a-g-n-allo
bo-g-n-eyo

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