Applying Leipzig glossing rules

rgruntha at rgruntha at
Fri Oct 9 12:58:09 UTC 2009

Dear Uralicists,

yesterday, we had a discussion on Leipzig glossing rules  
( at the PhD  
seminar of our department. After launching this encoding principle the  
typologists maintain that, as in linguistic research in general, the  
glossing rules should be adapted to individual languages only by  
taking into account language-specific characteristics. This  
recommendation is very flexible and gives the research of individual  
languages full freedom to make case-specific applications when and  
where-ever needed. However, we discussed a couple of more general  
questions in the light of the Uralic language family and tried to find  
applied glossing rules that would be acceptable for as many Uralic  
languages as possible. Given that doing research on Uralic languages  
would be more consistent, if shared principles were applied according  
to common rules in the research of the same languages, we tried to  
find subsequent principles to be followed.

Firstly (A), OBJECT CONJUGATION is morphologically one of the most  
complex categories in those languages that have it. The Leipzig  
glossing rules (Rule 4, examples (11 and 19)) suggest that there are  
two alternative ways to encode morphosyntacically cumulative forms.  
Accordingly, the Erzya example (1a-b) can be glossed in two ways:

(1a) 	rivez'	s'ovn-i-z'e		ver'giz'-en'
	fox	abuse-PRET-3SG.A.3SG.P	wolf-GA
	‘The fox abused the wolf.’ (MSFOu 84: 279)

(1b) 	rivez'	s'ovn-i-z'e	ver'giz'-en'
	fox	abuse-3SG>3SG	wolf-GA
	‘The fox abused the wolf.’ (MSFOu 84: 279)

(GA = genitive-accusative (genitive in the position of object))

The previous one (1a) follows the linear encoding principle but is  
robust and implies that the agent-like and patient-like constituent  
are segmentable at least at a semantic level. In our group the latter  
one (1b) was considered as the better alternative from the viewpoint  
of many Uralic languages, because it is more explicit and shows the  
hierarchy between the agent-like (subject) and patient-like (object)  
consituent. However, it is often the case that if the object is  
morphologically distinguishable as it may be in the languages of  
Siberia, it is located before the agent- (subject-)marking morpheme,  
on its left side.

Consequently, from the viewpoint of morphology it would make more  
justice, if the arrow | > | was turned around | < |. This should work  
both for Mordvinic (examples 2a-c), Ugric (Mansi in example (3),  
Hungarian in example (4)) and Samoyedic. There is also the point that  
the Ob-Ugric and Samoyedic languages distinguish between the number of  
the object (SG/DU/PL) but not the person.

(2a)	kunda-si-n'ek
	catch-3SG-1PL (alternatively catch-3PL-1PL)
	‘We catch her/him/them.’

(2b)	kunda-sin'ek
	catch-3SG<1PL (alternatively catch-3PL<1PL)
	‘We catch her/him/them.’

(2c) 	rivez'	s'ovn-i-z'e			ver'giz'-en'
	fox	abuse-3SG<3SG	wolf-GA
	 ‘The fox abused the wolf.’ (MSFOu 84: 279)

(3)	am tuw towləγtasum, nooŋx ti puuγaslum
	I there wing-FREQ-PRET-1SG, up this catch-PRET-SG<1SG
	‘I rowed there fast, I caught it up.’ (Kálmán 1976: 81)

(4)	lát-lak
	‘I see you.’

We tested the same applied glossing principle on Nenets, but  
unfortunately, here I have to leave it to specialists of the Samoyedic  
languages to make the test publicly. Note that in Erzya the glossing  
with hyphens in example (2a) is problematic, because -n'ek (1PL) is  
segmentable, whereas -si actually does not match with 3SG nor 3PL one  
to one.

Secondly (B), connegative forms of verbs are seldom marked overtly.  
The Leipzig glossing rules, for instance, do not include an  
abbreviation for connegative forms. However, in the Uralic languages  
the connegative verb form often diverges from the verb stem and could  
therefore be encoded. Moreover, the connegative usually corresponds to  
imperative 2SG forms that, in practice, always have to be encoded. So,  
in our view the connegative should be encoded as well as in the North  
Saami (5) and Mari (6a-b) examples.

North Saami
(5)	Dasgo ii oktage olmmoš dahkkojuvvo vanhurskkisin
	for NEG.3SG anyone human do-PASS.CONNEG righteous-ESS
	‘No one will be made righteous…’

(6a)	tyške tol!
	this-LAT come.IMP.2SG
	‘Come here!’

(6b)	tyške ot tol mo?
	this-LAT NEG-2SG come.CONNEG Q
	‘Won’t you come here?’

In sum, we found these conclusions useful and acceptable for the  
glossing of those languages we are concerned with. We look forward to  
the feedback of other Uralicists and your comments on both the  
suggested applying principles and the applicability of Leipzig  
glossing rules in general.

With best regards from Helsinki!

Riho Grünthal
Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies
P.O.Box 24 (Unioninkatu 40)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

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