"simple juxtaposition"

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Mon Nov 24 14:03:26 UTC 2008

No, Hartmut, don't worry. What I mean is that prosody cannot be easily 
compared across languages.

It's fairly easy to compare segmental overt marking (genitive, person 
affixes), especially with the absence of segmental marking (juxtaposition).

In practical terms, Andrew and Irina will have to ignore prosody in 
their definition of juxtaposition at this point, so for them 
Västerbotten Swedish will count as juxtaposition.


Hartmut Haberland wrote:
> Really Martin, do you /mean/ that intonation (prosody) is no overt 
> marking? Has the "written language bias in linguistics" taken over for 
> good? Even Bloomfield knew that /'black 'bird/ vs. '/blackbird/ 
> contrast not just in meaning but also in form - and /not/ because of 
> the difference in spelling.
> Hartmut
> Martin Haspelmath wrote:
>> I disagree with David and Östen:
>> David Gil wrote:
>>> Re the Västerbotten dialect: I would tend to agree with Östen Dahl 
>>> that, as compounds, they don't really belong in the same boat as 
>>> true syntactic juxtapositions.
>> Östen Dahl wrote:
>>> I also think that "simple juxtaposition" is not a wholly adequate 
>>> label for these constructions, which are rather to be seen as a kind 
>>> of incorporation involving among other things "compound" prosody.
>> Whether "simple juxtaposition" is an appropriate label for 
>> Västerbotten (Swedish) Pelle-äpple 'Pelle's apple' or not depends on 
>> the definition of "simple juxtaposition" as a comparative concept. 
>> Typologists are free to define their comparative concepts in whatever 
>> way they want, and they cannot assume that "juxtaposition" exists as 
>> a pre-established category (innate or otherwise given in advance, 
>> independently of the linguist).
>> Recall that this is how Andrew Spencer and Irina Nikolaeva define the 
>> concept "simple/pure juxtaposition":
>> "by means of pure juxtaposition, without any other morphosyntactic 
>> marking (agreement, adpositions, case marking etc.)"
>> This is not a very precise definition (it is unclear what exactly is 
>> meant by "morphosyntactic marking", and especially by "etc."). 
>> However, the interpretation that many readers would think of first is 
>> in terms of "overt marking" (usually by segmental marking, but 
>> possibly by stem change, as in the Welsh example). But there is no 
>> overt marking in Swedish, so this does fit Andrew's and Irina's 
>> definition. Östen points to "compound prosody", implying that "simple 
>> juxtaposition" should not have "compound prosody". But such a move 
>> does not work in typology, because "compound prosody" is not a 
>> universally applicable notion. Comparative concepts need to be 
>> defined in terms of universally applicable concepts.
>> Östen also suggests the label "incorporation", but how this is 
>> different from juxtaposition is unclear. Often it is thought of in 
>> terms of non-referentiality of the incorporee, but in Västerbotten 
>> the incorporee can evidently be referentil (Pelle-äpple).
>> Martin
>> P.S. I think the term "simple (or pure) juxtaposition" is somewhat 
>> confusing, because it suggests that "complex juxtaposition" also 
>> exists. In fact, however, juxtaposition is universally understood in 
>> the Spencer & Nikolaeva sense: as expression of a relationship 
>> between A and B by putting A next to B without any overt coding. 
>> Juxtaposition is thus "simple"/"pure" by definition.

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at eva.mpg.de)
Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6	
D-04103 Leipzig      
Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616

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