[Lingtyp] Americanist contributions to typology
haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Tue Jul 5 05:56:53 UTC 2016
One of the contributions to the "Oxford handbook of polysynthesis" will
be Balthasar Bickel's & Fernando Zúñiga's paper "The "word in
polysynthetic languages: Phonological and syntactic challenges" (which
is mostly based on data from Chintang and Mapudungun)
Here is an excerpt from their conclusion:
"Polysynthetic "words" are often not unified entities defined by a
single domain on which all criteria would converge. They tend to be
non-coherent in one way or another... But then, it is important to note
that this is byno means a peculiarity of polysynthesis: languages
generally tend to avoid fully convergent, unified word entities.”
Thus, it is not clear in what way “polysynthesis” is special, and
whether the notion can survive (but I have not seen the other
contributions to the handbook yet).
On 05.07.16 07:30, David Gil wrote:
> Dear all,
> While I agree wholeheartedly with those who have proposed the notion
> of polysynthesis as constituting one of the central contributions of
> Amerindian languages to linguistic typology, I am also sympathetic
> with Martin Haspelmath's observations about how the the notion of
> polysynthesis relies on an often poorly understood notion of wordhood,
> and I do not accept Claude Hagége's claim that that the abundance of
> typological studies of polysynthesis may be construed as somehow
> "giving the lie" to Martin's reservations. On the contrary, I would
> say that one of the major contributions of Amerindian languages to
> linguistic typology, via the so-called polysynthetic languages, is
> precisely the challenge that they pose to the traditional notion of
> word, as discussed in recent work by Martin and others.
> David Gil
> On 05/07/2016 02:18, Marianne Mithun wrote:
>> Note on polysynthesis.
>> The Oxford Handbook of Polysynthesis is now in press, slated to
>> appear early next year. A major thrust of the volume is the question
>> of whether polysynthesis is an identifiable and/or useful type,
>> whether there are sufficient or necessary features and what they
>> might be, whether languages can be more or less polysynthetic,
>> whether core polysynthetic languages tend to show other structural
>> features, etc.
>> There are general chapters on polysynthesis and complexity,
>> polysynthesis and holophrasis (in the sense of all crucial parts of
>> the predication specified within the verb, including core arguments),
>> the limits of polysynthesis, the nature of the lexicon in
>> polysynthetic languages, different theoretical perspectives on
>> polysynthesis, the nature of the word in polysynthetic languages
>> (phonological and morphological challenges), social circumstances
>> stimulating the development and retention of polysynthesis, etc.
>> There are also chapters on the diachrony of polysynthesis, the
>> acquisition of polysynthetic languages, areal perspectives on
>> polysynthesis (geographical hotbeds), and chapters on individual
>> languages that have been characterized as polysynthetic, in which
>> authors weigh the various criteria that have been proposed for
>> polysynthesis to see whether they add up to a definable type.
>> On 7/4/2016 7:07 AM, Claude Hagège wrote:
>>> Hi everyone,
>>> I’d like to stress that, after the monographs on Nahuatl
>>> written in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries by, among others, Alonso
>>> de Molina, Andres de Olmos, or on Guarani by Luis de Montoya, work
>>> on incorporation and polysynthesis, became more and more important
>>> in Europe due to the discovery of these morphosyntactic features by
>>> Pierre du Ponceau, who invented these technical terms, first
>>> applying them to Nahuatl, and thus showing what outstanding
>>> contributions Amerindian languages were able to make to language
>>> studies. There is, therefore, a tradition referring to the study of
>>> these characteristics, and this went as far as prompting linguists
>>> to add the polysynthetic type to Schlegel’s and Humboldt’s famous
>>> three types, to wit isolating, agglutinative and inflectional,
>>> which, long before Greenberg, laid the foundations of linguistic
>>> typology. This research tradition on polysynthesis and incorporation
>>> is illustrated by many works, giving the lie, by the way, to
>>> Martin’s assertion that “these terms have no clear definition in
>>> typology, because they rely on the notion of word”. Among such
>>> works, there are for example, if I may mention them,
>>> -CH, « Lexical suffixes and incorporation in Mainland Comox »,
>>> /Forum Linguisticum/, Vol. 3, n°1, August 1978, 57-71.
>>> -CH, « On noun incorporation in universal grammar (further comments
>>> on a previous article) », /Forum Linguisticum,/ Vol. 4, n°3,
>>> Apr. 1980, 241-245.
>>> -CH, « Incorporation nominale et suffixation lexicale : essai de
>>> typologie et cas particulier du comox (Colombie britannique) »,
>>> /Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris/, tome 72, fasc. 1,
>>> 1977, 319-340.
>>> -CH« Language as a faculty, languages as “contingent” manifestations
>>> and humans as function builders », /Reconnecting Language.
>>> Morphology and Syntax in Functional Perspective,/ « Current Issues
>>> in Linguistic Theory » series, 154, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John
>>> Benjamins Publishing Company, 1997, 29-47.
>>> Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] *De la
>>> part de* Plank
>>> *Envoyé :* lundi 4 juillet 2016 12:35these terms have no clear
>>> definition in typology, because they rely on the notion of "word"
>>> *À :* Enrique L. Palancar; <LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>
>>> *Objet :* Re: [Lingtyp] Americanist contributions to typology
>>> The paper by Antoine that Enrique mentions is specifially on what is
>>> nowadays called "associated motion", something where Australia and
>>> South America have been leading the way. The paper -- and it's
>>> probably the longest we've ever had -- is in LT 20(1) 2016, an issue
>>> that was regrettably held up by production hiccups, but is to
>>> finally hit your screens and/or mailboxes this month. ToC attached.
>>> In its early days (17-18th century) typology, and simultaneously
>>> language evolution, was a subject for "conjectural historians", and
>>> seriously Americas-informed factually-based typologising arguably
>>> only began with the likes of James Burnett (see below a passage from
>>> a handbook article for his actual language coverage) and Peter
>>> Stephen Du Ponceau. I'd say grappling with
>>> *polysynthesis/incorporation/Einverleibun*g was the first really
>>> significant typological contribution whose chief inspiration was
>>> American, superseding what had been speculated about the typological
>>> and evolutionary status of holistic event designations, aka
>>> impersonal/subjectless sentences. Very early, certain
>>> *sound/phoneme inventories*, lacking labials that just about
>>> everybody else loved and acquired early, were also perceived as a
>>> typological challenge from the Americas, calling for corrections of
>>> facile generalisations.
>>> (Good) typology is so driven by (deep) knowledge about languages.
>>> Good of Mark to recall Sapir.
Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10
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