"simple juxtaposition"

Nigel Vincent nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK
Wed Nov 26 07:13:25 UTC 2008

Can I express my agreement with Claude and Hartmut about the need to  
treat prosody on an equal footing with other aspects of linguistic  
structure? I agree too that prosodic work needs to rely on proper  
instrumental analysis. (I also think semantics is best done with the  
tools of formal logic, but that's probably more controversial.)  
Anyway, for a good study that tries to accord each domain equal status  
I would mention the following paper by our former PhD student, Louise  
Mycock (now at Oxford):
'Constituent question formation and focus: a new typological  
perspective', Transactions of the Philological Society 105 (2007), pp.  

Quoting claude-hagege <claude-hagege at WANADOO.FR>:

> Dear Hartmut, Östen and Martin,
> In my opinion, Hartmut is quite right. Prosody can easily be compared
> across languages, provided we resort to precise measures, in Hz and
> seconds, of intensity variations, melodic curves and time-sharing.
>    Such measures are available in any good phonetics lab. Any linguist
> who wishes to make sure that prosodic arguments he uses are solid
> should not hesitate to work in this way (if I may refer to a work of
> mine in passing, I did so in "On categories, rules and interfaces in
> linguistics, The Linguistic Review 21, 2004, 257-276).
>    Let us at last stop ostracizing prosody when it appears that it
> plays an important role as a function-marker.
> Best
> Claude Hagège
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Martin Haspelmath"   
> <haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE>
> Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 3:03 PM
> Subject: Re: "simple juxtaposition"
>> 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.
>> Martin
>> 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
>> Glottopedia - the free encyclopedia of linguistics
>> (http://www.glottopedia.org)

Professor Nigel Vincent, FBA
Associate Vice-President for Graduate Education

Mailing address:     School of Languages, Linguistics & Cultures
                      University of Manchester
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