"flag" for case/adposition

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Thu Jul 13 13:21:22 UTC 2006

Dear Martin and others,
no question - 'flagging' seems to make sense in the given context. 
However,I'm not sure whether it is specific enough to match the 
functional domain at issue. The quote Martin gives (Aissen 1987:11) is - 
by itself - somewhat ambiguous:

> "5. Flagging: Tzotzil uses prepositions and so-called 'relational 
> nouns' to mark NPs for their grammatical or thematic relations — to 
> FLAG them, in the terminology of relational grammar." 

This passage does not make clear to me whether *other* linguistic 
'units' (such as verbs) can be flagged or not. If we start from the 
semantics of the source domain (<FLAG>), we get nothing but a very 
general notion of something marked by a 'flag' (be it the original flag 
or, metonymically, the flag on e.g. an index card). The term does not 
tell us which specific information is given with the 'flag' (as for the 
source domain: which color it has, which shape it has etc.). In 
linguistic terms this would mean that a flag only indicates that 
something is marked by an additional segment (if we consider the formal 
expression of flagging only). It does not tell us *which* functional 
domain the flag reflects. In other words - flagging itself would be a 
technical, but not necessarily a functional term. For instance, we may 
likewise say that verbs are flagged for 'person' or 'class', just as 
nouns or NPs can be flagged for 'case' (whatever this would mean) or for 
gender, class, number etc.  I think that it is crucial to mention the 
type of 'qualification' (the 'flag type') related to a given paradigm of 
'flagging'. If I'm not mistaken, it is communis opinio to claim that 
case functions (marked synthetically or constructionally) reflect 
properties not of the NP itself but of the verb (or, in a cognitive 
sense, of the 'verbal' relation) that occurs with the 
'case-marked/flagged' NP - even though NP-specific properties such as 
gender, class, or number may fuse with the expression of these 
functions. These properties or features are copied onto the NP domain 
just as NP-specific properties can be copied onto the verbal domain. 
This is why I prefer the term 'echo' - it symbolizes this copying 
process perhaps better than the term 'flagging' - which - in my eyes - 
is more neutral with respect to the location of the 'stimulus' for the 
flagging process. As the stimulus at issue normally stems from the 
verbal domain (or: relational domain), I ended up in the term 
'relational echo' ('referential echos' representing the reverse 
process). One might argue that case forms (case/adpositions) that occur 
between NPs (or: Referents) such as genitives or locatives (pater 
amic-i, the house OF the woman, the woman IN the garden etc.) lack the 
verbal 'stimulus' and hence are not echos in the sense just proposed. 
Here, I would add that such constructions reflect a 'hidden' 
(nevertheless cognitively present) verbal, copula-like entity that may 
become apparent in paraphrases like relative clauses.

Martin argues that      

> (...) other terms based on "relat-" (such as Croft's "relational 
> morpheme", M. Noonan's "relational morphology", and W. Schulze's 
> "relational echo") have the disadvantage that the term "relation" is 
> extremely broad. 

Right! But we have to bear in mind that 'relating' is exactly what verbs 
do on the cognitive level. In terms of Cognitive Linguistics, we only 
have the representational 'classes' 'Referent', 'Relation', and 'Deixis' 
(plus sets of pragmatic markers). Hence, 'relation' is clearly defined 
as denoting those types of cognitive representations that relate two or 
more (more or less) time-stable referential entities. From the point of 
view of Linguistic/Cognitive Reductionism, the term 'relation' is not 
broad at all, but very basic. If we claim (what I do) that relational 
echos are a cognitive option to make the value(s) of relational 
structures more explicit (be it semantically, syntactically, or 
pragmatically), the 'basicness' of 'relation' (in a cognitive sense) 
also holds for 'relational echos' (in which way soever you want to term 
them language-specifically).       

Best wishes,

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
Institut fuer Allgemeine und Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 Muenchen
Tel.: ++49-(0)89-2180-2486 (Sekr.)
Tel.: ++49-(0)89-2180-5343 (Office)
Fax : ++49-(0)89-2180-5345
E-mail: W.Schulze at lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Web: http://www.ats.lmu.de./index.php

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