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

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Thu Jul 13 19:02:14 UTC 2006

Dear all, let me briefly comment upon three postings, one of them on the 
sister mailing list Funknet [Östen]
(a) Dear Östen,
many thanks for this nice example. One  additional question:  Doesn't 
the Russian phrase you quote represent an appositional chain [each of 
the terms kolleg, nashij, and Andrej Shevchenko have strong referential 

> In Russian, prepositions can be doubled in a way that looks like 
> incipient
> case agreement. This shows up above all in genres like folklore, but 
> here is
> a beautiful example I just found on the Internet:
> "...u kollegi u nashego u Andreja Shevchenko byla klassnaja citata..."
> at colleague.GEN at our.GEN at Andrej.GEN Shevchenko.GEN be.PRET.F.SG
> first-class quotation
> 'our colleague A.S. had a first-class quotation'
(b) Dear Marcel,

> A question: Relational nouns (or auxiliary nouns, as I have called 
> them), which inflect for person plus case and/or are themselves 
> governed by adpositions, assume relational functions similar to case 
> and adpositions in (among others) Turkic and Semitic languages. Which 
> of the terms discussed are intended to cover them?

*If* I understand you correctly, you refer to constuctions like the 
following Tyvan example:

ot    üstü-n-den
fire  top-*3SG:POSS-ABL
'from the top of the fire'

I have glossed -n- as *3SG:POSS just because it merely is a diachronic 
interpretation (hope that I have got this right!). According to my 
approach, I would interpret ot üstü-n- in terms of an appositional 
structure [unspecific possessive construction or so, if you like] (fire 
*its=top), which is then case-marked by ABL -den. The marker -den (the 
relational echo) would be motivated by the appropriate verb (e.g. 
'[ashes] [fell from] [top of the fire]'.

(c) Dear Claude,

>     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.

You say: "The 'unit (...) indicates the function of the element (...) 
that it governs". Admittedly, I have some problems in understanding this 
phrase: Maybe that e.g. prepostions govern their NP/nouns (personally, I 
do not think so, rather, I believe that it is the cluster 
{verb+preposition} that governs the NP/noun). But let's take an example 
with case marking: amic-us flor-em videt 'The friend sees the flower'. 
Can we really say, that -us *itself* 'governs' the referent 'friend', 
and -em the referent 'flower'? Isn't it the verb videt that governs the 
distribution of case markers (> relational echos, in my terms)? Or did I 
get you wrong?

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

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