[Lingtyp] Languages with multiple debonding of bound morphemes?

Geoffrey Haig geoffrey.haig at uni-bamberg.de
Sun Jan 14 19:04:40 UTC 2018

Dear Jussi,

some parallels to the kind of debonding you mention can be found with 
certain originally inflectional suffixes in West Iranian, in particular 
verbal agreement suffixes, and the so-called Oblique case (singular) 
suffix. Basically what happens is that these suffixes may be displaced 
from their stems by various other elements (e.g. pronominal clitics), 
suggesting a weakening of the historical inflectional bond between stem 
and affix. The singular case suffix also turns up on items with which it 
was previously not associated, e.g. plural nouns, and personal pronouns, 
suggesting an extension to hosts of categories that were previously not 

Note however that these erstwhile inflectional affixes do not become 
independent words (unlike the Saami examples you mention), and 
interestingly, the suffixes concerned are monosyllabic.
It's just that they appear less morphologically integrated into their 
stem than they were, hence are subject to re-ordering, and extension of 
host category.

The facts are fairly complicated (and somewhat controversial), if you're 
interested I can send you a couple of papers where they are discussed,

best wishes

Am 12.01.2018 19:34, schrieb Jussi Ylikoski:
> Dear colleagues,
> I would like to hear about possible typological parallels to a 
> little-studied morphological (diachronic) feature in North Saami.
> I apologize for the lengthy introduction:
> Many of you may have heard about probably the best known grammatical 
> morpheme in North Saami, /haga/ 'without', a former abessive case 
> suffix (-/haga/) that has degrammaticalized into a postposition and 
> ultimately a free adverb and a preposition. North Saami has a quite 
> fusional inflectional morphology, and derivational morphology is quite 
> fusional as well. However, there are also a number of disyllabic 
> suffixes that are by definition much less fusional, and I have 
> proposed that one of the reasons for degrammaticalization – or at 
> least a morphological feature of debonding – may lie in the fact that 
> in a fusional language like North Saami, non-fusional morphemes like 
> -/haga/ are prone to be perceived as words (such as disyllabic 
> adpositions) rather than as (otherwise maximally monosyllabic) case 
> markers.
> What is interesting here is that I am aware of as many as about a 
> dozen other disyllabic suffixes that are occasionally experiencing 
> partly similar debonding in North Saami. Apologizing for a little 
> self-promotion, I am referring to my recent paper on /haga/ and a 
> partly similar instance of degrammaticalization, and quote myself as 
> follows:
>     It may be added that in North Saami there are a number of similar
>     but considerably less degrammaticalized morphemes that may
>     occasionally undergo debonding, namely conjunction reduction à la
>     /vuoiddas- ja ostonagaid/ ‘stains of grease and willow bark’ (30)
>     and /varra- ja guomonaga/ ‘stained with blood and chyme’ (33).
>     Such morphemes have been discussed in Ylikoski (2009: 116–128,
>     200–201) where it is conjectured that such phenomena could in
>     principle be regarded as tentative symptoms of a wholesale
>     “degrammaticalization drift” in North Saami; a situation in which
>     somewhat atypical disyllabic suffixes seem to represent an
>     intermediate stage on the way to a more clitic-like status for
>     many of the present-day suffixes. Examples mentioned in Ylikoski
>     (2009) include, among others, the verb forms /hála- ja
>     čále-dettiin/ [speak and write-cvb.sim] ‘when speaking and
>     writing’ and /bora- ja juga-keahttá/ [eat and drink-cvb.neg]
>     ‘without eating and drinking’ instead of ordinary converbs
>     /háladettiin ja čáledettiin/ and /borakeahttá ja jugakeahttá/ id.,
>     nouns like /nuorra-ja olmmái-vuohta/ [young and man-hood] ‘youth
>     and manhood’ instead of nuorravuohta ja olmmáivuohta and
>     adjectives like /áhče- ja eatne-heapme/ [father- and mother-less]
>     ‘fatherless and motherless’ instead of /áhčeheapme ja
>     eatneheapme/. In a way, situations in which such morphemes stand
>     out as quite atypical for affixes are reminiscent of Norde’s
>     (2001; 2009: 206–207) thoughts on deflexion as impetus to
>     degrammaticalization of morphemes like English and Scandinavian
>     /s/-genitive and Irish /muid/ ‘we’.
>     Ylikoski, Jussi. 2016. “Degrammaticalization in North Saami:
>     Development of adpositions, adverbs and a free lexical noun from
>     inflectional and derivational suffixes. /Finnisch-Ugrische
>     Mitteilungen/40: 113–173. Available at
>     http://cc.oulu.fi/~jylikosk/filer/fum40_ylikoski.pdf
>     <http://cc.oulu.fi/%7Ejylikosk/filer/fum40_ylikoski.pdf>
> I wish to emphasize that most if not all the inflectional and 
> derivational suffixes I am referring to go back to ancient Proto-Saami 
> or even Proto-Uralic suffixes. For example, unlike English -/less/ in 
> /"father- and motherless"/, the suffix -/heapme/ in /áhče- ja 
> eatne-heapme/ [father- and mother-less] is regarded as having an 
> age-long past as a suffix only. In other words, from a comparative 
> Uralicist perspective, the above examples are about as strange as 
> "speak- and writing", "eat- and drinking" or "grammati- and 
> degrammaticalization" in English.
> *My question:*I wonder if there are many languages that behave like 
> North Saami in this respect? More precisely, I would be especially 
> interested in languages that have experienced a similar "wholesale 
> degrammaticalization drift" or "debonding drift" in the sense that 
> there are many individual (originally) bound morphemes that have 
> turned out to be not necessarily that bound after all.
> Best regards,
> Jussi Ylikoski
> http://cc.oulu.fi/~jylikosk/ <http://cc.oulu.fi/%7Ejylikosk/>
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Prof. Dr. Geoffrey Haig
Lehrstuhl Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Universität Bamberg
96045 Bamberg
Tel. ++49 (0)951 863 2490
Admin. ++49 (0)951 863 2491

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