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

claude-hagege claude-hagege at WANADOO.FR
Thu Jul 13 20:53:27 UTC 2006

Dear Wolfgang and Marcel,

    I quite agree that it is videt which governs amic-us and flor-em in amicus florem videt. I simply wanted to characterize, more precisely, the relationship between a relator and the noun (phrase) which accompanies it. It is a case of local government, as is shown, for example, by the fact that German von requires (governs?) the dative, während the genitive, Russian iz and ot the genitive (and, for that matter, by Finnish, Turkish (1), etc. postpositions, which require certain cases of the noun before them).
    But this was not my main point when proposing the term functeme. I would like to know your position with respect to this proposal.

(1) In passing, I would say, as an answer to Marcel Erdal's query, that what should be treated as the relator is the whole phrase thus constituted, as in Turkish okul-dan önce "before school", dün aks,am-dan beri "since yesterday evening", where the postpositions önce and beri both require the ablative -dan/-den , or Finnish muuri-a vasten "against a wall", where, in the same way,the relator is the whole phrase <partitive -a + vasten (which "governs or "requires" it)>.

Best, Claude (Collège de France, Paris)
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze 
  To: claude-hagege 
  Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:02 PM
  Subject: Re: FUNCTEME instead of relator, case, adposition, flag, etc.

  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 properties]? 

    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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