[Lingtyp] Languages with multiple debonding of bound morphemes?

Geoffrey Khan gk101 at cam.ac.uk
Sun Jan 14 21:13:18 UTC 2018

Dear Jussi,

It seems to me that your examples such 'without eating and drink' are 
some kind of compound. I've found apparently parallel constructions in 
Modern Aramaic dialects (Semitic), such as

Christian Urmi

(1) ida     akl-e

     hand    leg-PL

     'hands and legs'

(2)    ida         akl-u

     hand    legs-his

     'his hands and legs'

Note that ida 'hand' lacks plural inflection. The plural inflection and 
the possessive suffix are only on the final noun of the compound (in 2 
the plural inflection is concealed by the possessive suffix)

Regarding degrammaticalization, some Neo-Aramaic dialects exhibit a 
debonding of a copula clitic in certain constructions. I am inclined to 
think that what is happening is the attachment of the clitic to a zero 
pronominal or agreement morpheme. This is supported by the fact that in 
other closely related dialects the clitic is attached to an anaphoric 
pronoun in the same position in the same construction, e.g.


Yosep     --=ile            xawr-i

Yosep     --=COP.3MS    friend-my

'Yosep is my friend'


Yosep   ahu=ile                     xor-i

Yosep  PRO.3MS=COP.3MS  friend-my

I would be very interested if anybody knows about similar types of 
debonding in other languages . I am aware of some cases where an 
original host has been reduced to zero by attrition (e.g. and + 3 
oblique clitic in Middle Persian > 3 oblique), but there is no evidence 
of attrition of a host in the Barwar Neo-Aramaic construction.

Best wishes,

Geoffrey Khan

On 12/01/2018 18:34, Jussi Ylikoski wrote:
> 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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Geoffrey Khan
Regius Professor of Hebrew
University of Cambridge

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DA

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