FUNCTEME instead of relator, case, adposition, flag, etc.

claude-hagege claude-hagege at WANADOO.FR
Thu Jul 13 14:51:42 UTC 2006

Dear all,

    I have a proposal. I suggest a new term, which would be FUNCTEME. 
     Trask's flag, used by him with respect to an interesting phenomenon in Basque morphosyntax, is not bad, but besides the reserves expressed by Wolfgang and others, and despite the good arguments presented by Martin, flag does not say anything to linguists, for a simple reason: it is a metaphor. Admittedly, this makes it quite free of any loaden past in linguistic terminology, but it also makes it somewhat surprising (let alone that even if it is true that we write as scientists for scientists, the term flag, if a cultured reader who is not a professional linguist comes across it, might give a strange idea of what we are doing...).
    I coin FUNCTEME in the following way: the suffix -eme, in the terminology of linguistics as well as in that of other sciences, regularly refers to "a unit (often the smallest one) of what the root says" (cf. phoneme, toneme, sememe, etc.). The root, in funct-eme, says that the unit in question merely indicates the function of the element (mostly a noun or noun phrase) that it governs: Engl. for in for my friend indicates that my friend is the benefactive complement of the predicate. It is obvious that prepositions like for also have a meaning (and this is the main reason why case was originally used by Fillmore 1968 in a semantic acception), but functeme strictly refers to the syntactic role of relators. Thus, functeme precisely says what relators are actually from the morphological and syntactic point(s) of view: they are units of function marking.


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