"simple juxtaposition"

Östen Dahl oesten at LING.SU.SE
Mon Nov 24 14:11:40 UTC 2008

I agree with Hartmut. Arguably, the idea of “simple juxtaposition” reflects
a written-language bias, since any combination of linguistic elements into a
phrase or a word comes with an intonation contour and a stress pattern (at
least in languages where stress is relevant). In the case of a syntactic
combination as black bird it may of course be said that we are only dealing
with a default phrasal prosodic pattern, but in compounds such as blackbird
there may be construction-specific properties. In Germanic languages in
general, compounds tend to have the main stress on the first component and
secondary stress on the second one; in Standard Swedish there is the
additional complication that if a compound consists of more than two
components, the secondary stress is always on the last component,
irrespective of the internal structure of the compound: thus stor ‘big’ and
sjuk-hus ‘sick-house=hospital’ (with main stress on sjuk) combine to give
stor-sjuk-hus with secondary stress on hus and sjuk unstressed. In the
varieties in northern Sweden that have extensive adjective incorporation,
the incorporated adjectives sometimes have phonologically reduced forms,
which incidentally is analogous to what happens in Semitic status
constructus constructions (where the head noun is reduced). I do not think
it is important here that these properties are not universal, what is
important is that a grammar cannot just say “concatenate these words”; you
have to add descriptive detail. I discuss these problems in my 2004
<http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=SLCS%2071>  book,
especially chapters 3 and 11. I would claim that to the extent that compound
nouns display specific expressional properties, they are representatives of
“mature constructions” in the sense defined in that book, that is,
basically, they are patterns that presuppose a diachronic development.


- Östen





From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] On
Behalf Of Hartmut Haberland
Sent: den 24 november 2008 13:54
Subject: Re: "simple juxtaposition"


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. 

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

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). 


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. 


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