[Lingtyp] wordhood: responses to Haspelmath

Balthasar Bickel balthasar.bickel at uzh.ch
Sun Nov 12 09:21:00 UTC 2017

> On 12 Nov 2017, at 09:02, Eitan Grossman <eitan.grossman at mail.huji.ac.il> wrote:
> Having said that, I agree with David (if I understand him correctly) that the crucial missing link is the operationalization of the notion of 'bond strength' or 'boundness,' but as far as I know, this has yet to be articulated for cross-linguistic purposes. Incidentally, this might be a way out of the reliance of notions like 'affix' and 'clitic' on the notion 'word,' because the former could be defined purely in terms of 'boundness’.

The Bickel & Zúñiga paper in the Polysynthesis handbook is another attempt to this (we speak about 'cohesion’). There are many thorny issues that need to be resolved,  but we sketch analytical tools that allow us to describe each domain (groupings of functionally distinct elements) in each language with some precision, and at the same time to compare these domains within and across languages (e.g. compare degrees of overlap, relative sizes etc.), and to explicate hypotheses on how these domains, or domain clusters, matter for acquisition and processing. 

But this all means that we should stop worrying about Platonic ‘words’ out there. (As Mattis pointed out, not much insight had been generated if biologists had spent all their research energy on worrying about what the real leaf is ...)



More information about the Lingtyp mailing list