[Lingtyp] words, bound forms, welded forms
haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Wed Jan 23 07:42:47 EST 2019
In the discussion of words, affixes, and polysynthesis, the notion of
forms being "bound" occurs again and again, and in the discussion of
agglutination, people often talk about complex words being "fused" (or
not fused). In order to make headway, I feel that we as linguists should
make clear how we use terms like "attached", "bound", and "fused".
In my own work, I have been using the term "bound" in the
well-established Bloomfield-Zwicky sense (= unable to occur in
isolation), but some people have relied on a notion of "phonologically
bound" in discussions of wordhood. I think it's better not to use
"bound" in two different senses, so I would like to propose the new term
"welded" for the phonological sense. In the short text below, I define
(and discuss the relation between) the terms "bound" and "welded".
Since I don't know the literature on phonological wordhood (since
Roussel 1922) as well as some others on this list evidently know it, my
specific question is: Is there a prominent place in the literature where
the notion "phonologically bound" has been introduced or defined? (If
so, I may rethink my terminological proposals.)
The general question is: Are there better alternatives to what I am
*Bound forms and welded forms: Two basic concepts of grammar
*(possible future blogpost)*
Linguists often try to characterize affixes in terms of a notion of
"*boundness*", as in this passage of the Wikipedia article "affix":
/Lexical affixes/are bound elements that appear as affixes, but function
as incorporated nouns
But what exactly is meant by "bound"? Is it just a synonym of "attached"
(as in Wikipedia's definition of affix: "an affix is a morpheme
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpheme>that is attached to a word stem
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_%28linguistics%29>to form a new word
or word form"), and are both terms just informal ways of saying that an
affix *occurs together* with a stem?
But if so, what is the difference between an affix occurring together
with a stem, and *a verb occurring together with an object nominal*?
Linguists don't normally say that objects are bound to their verbs, but
in what sense is an affix bound but an object nominal is not bound?
This seems like a very basic question, but linguists do not have
consistent answers to this question. The first answer they give often
involves the notion of *"word"*, but linguists have not found a general
way of identifying words across languages (as I noted in a 2011
article). If at all, words can be characterized in terms of a more basic
concept such as "bound", it seems, not the other way round.
So here I would like to make a proposal how to use the term *"bound",*
which also involves the introduction of a new term *"welded"*.
Basically, I propose that *a bound form is one that cannot occur in
isolation, *while *a welded form is one that shows segmental
phonological interaction *with its neighbour.
For example, the English preposition /from/, the possessive pronoun
/my/, and the definite article /the/ are bound forms. Consider the
(1) a.The dog went through the fence.
b.The dog went through.
c.The cat jumped from the table.
d.*The cat jumped from.
(2)a.I saw Kim's bike.
b.I saw Kim's.
c.She found my umbrella.
d.*She found my.
(3)a.We like those caps.
b.We like those.
c.He bought the cap.
d.*He bought the. ('He bought it.')
Of course, most forms that are written as affixes are also bound, but as
the examples (1)-(3) show, not all forms that are written separately are
*free* in the sense that they can occur on their own.
This meaning of the term /bound/ goes back to Bloomfield (1933), and it
has become particularly well-known through Arnold Zwicky's work on
clitics. Zwicky's famous (1977) paper distinguishes three classes of
elements: simple clitics, special clitics, and *bound words*. The most
widely cited paper that proposes criteria for distinguishing between
clitics and affxes, Zwicky & Pullum (1983), begins as follows:
"Two types of bound morphemes are found attached to (free) words in many
languages: clitics and affixes"
Affixes are always thought of as parts of words, while clitics are
generally thought of as words. Thus, the notion of boundness cross-cuts
the distinction between words and parts of words.
In the discussions about wordhood that I often have with fellow
grammarians, they often mention *phonological interaction*: Some
elements interact phonologically with their neighbours, while others
don't. Some contrasts are given in (4)-(6). I propose to say that the
forms in (b) are *welded*, while those in (a) are not.
(4)a.my pear / my apple
b.a pear / an apple
b.Englishfilm-ed [-d] / golf-ed [-t]
(6)a.good / good-ness
b.mortal [-?l] / mortal-ity [-æl-iti]
In (4)-(5), we see that some (but not all) of the bound forms have
different phonological variants depending on phonological properties of
their host, and in (6b), we see that the host can have different
phonological variants depending on whether it combines with a bound form
or not. A bound form is *welded* to its host if it shows different
variants depending on the shape of the host or if the host shows
different variants depending on the shape of the bound form.
So clearly, *boundness* and *weldedness* are different properties of
linguistic form: A form may be bound but not welded (e.g. English /my/,
-/ness/, German -/te/), or a form may be both bound and welded (e.g.
English /a/an/, -/ed/ [-t/-d]).
Can a form be *welded but not bound*? No, this is excluded by
definition: If a form can be used both on its own and in combination
with a bound form, and if it has a different shape when combined with
the bound form, then we do not say that the form as such is welded. For
example, the English verb /write/ can be used on its own (e.g. as an
imperative), and when the agent noun suffix /-er/ is added, it may have
a different shape (with flapped /r/): /wri/[?]-/er/. Thus, -/er/ is a
welded form, but we would not want to say that /write/ is a welded form.
Some linguists use a different term for what I am calling "welded" here:
"phonologically bound". This seems to occur fairly frequently, but
unlike the use of "bound" in the sense "free-standing", it does not seem
to have a clear pedigree.
Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10
Institut fuer Anglistik
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