[Lingtyp] words, bound forms, welded forms

Mark Van de Velde mark.vandevelde at cnrs.fr
Fri Jan 25 12:23:59 UTC 2019

Dear colleagues,

The tone system of the Cameroonian Bantu language Eton may be useful for 
illustrating the usefulness of distinguishing between what Martin calls 
"bound" versus "welded" (if I understood it correctly), and to show that 
the definition of welded form should better not be restricted to 
*segmental* phonological interaction.

Eton has a rule that copies high tones. The copied high tone 
subsequently attaches to its right according to a set of rules that take 
into account the type of morphological boundary the tone has to cross. 
(The prosodic status of the syllable to which it attaches plays a role 
as well, which is not relevant here.)

Three types of boundary have to be distinguished: a strong (word) 
boundary, a weak (affix) boundary and an intermediate boundary that I 
called "clitic" due to its intermediate status. A high tone that crosses 
a weak or intermediate boundary deletes any following low tone, and then 
further spreads (if it crossed an affix boundary) or stays put (if it 
crossed a clitic boundary). A high tone that crosses a strong boundary 
delinks a following low, which becomes floating. Therefore, we need 
three degrees of "welding" in an analysis of Eton tonology.

These three degrees are defined by tone rules, but they correspond to 
typical morphological distinctions. The identification of the strong 
boundary as a word boundary and that of the weak boundary as an affix 
boundary are unproblematic. The intermediate boundary is found between a 
genitive marker and a noun. Genitive markers are generally phrasal 
affixes with an intermediate degree of welding in the Bantu languages, 
so "clitic" seems right here too.

Crucially, high tone forms - linguistic forms that lack a segmental 
shape and consist of a high tone only - come in three types according to 
the way in which they attach to the right. By analogy and for 
descriptive ease, I called them tonal affix, tonal clitic and tonal 
word. Clearly, all of these are clear examples of bound forms, but they 
show three different degrees of welding. In the following examples H 
stands for a floating high tone, # is a word boundary, = a clitic 
boundary and - an affix boundary, ꜜ downstep (caused by a floating low 
tone in between high tones).

ɛ̀-ʤɔ̀ŋ 'clan', ɛ̀-ʤɔ́ŋ 'hole', H# LOCATIVE, H= GENITIVE, H- CONSTRUCT FORM

H# ɛ̀-ʤɔ̀ŋ --> ɛ́ʤɔ̀ŋ 'in the clan',  H# ɛ̀-ʤɔ́ŋ --> ɛ́ꜜʤɔ́ŋ 'in the hole'

H= ɛ̀-ʤɔ̀ŋ --> ɛ́ʤɔ̀ŋ 'of the clan', H= ɛ̀-ʤɔ́ŋ --> ɛ́ʤɔ́ŋ 'of the hole'

H-ɛ̀-ʤɔ̀ŋ di̋ --> ɛ́ʤɔ̂ŋ dí 'this clan', H= ɛ̀-ʤɔ́ŋ di̋ --> ɛ́ʤɔ́ŋ dî 'this hole'

(For more details: Van de Velde, Mark (2008) /A Grammar of Eton./ 
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, p 52-59)

If I understood Martin right, welding is relative, gradual, and 
language/construction/domain specific, whereas bounding is discreet and 
crosslinguistically definable.

Best wishes,


On 25/01/2019 11:56, Martin Haspelmath wrote:
> On 25.01.19 11:29, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
>> On 1/25/19 10:27 AM, Martin Haspelmath wrote:
>>> *a welded form is one that shows segmental phonological interaction *with its neighbour.
>> I can't help wondering whether "phonologically conditioned allomorphy"
>> would not be an existing concept which has identical properties to the
>> concept of "welding":
>> - there are two or more forms to choose from
>> - the choice of form depends on the shape of the "neighbour"
>> Best wishes
>> Sebastian
> Yes, a welded bound form would always exhibit "phonologically 
> conditioned allomorphy", but the latter notion is much broader and not 
> well-defined. For one thing, the "allomorph" concept depends on the 
> "morpheme" concept, on which there is no agreement, and much 
> confusion. For example, are German /-er/ and /-en/ allomorphs of a 
> single {PL} morpheme? Are English /-ness/ and /-ity/ allomorphs of a 
> single {ABSTR.NOUN} morpheme? Are French /tomb(-er)/ 'fall' and 
> /chute/ 'fall' allomorphs of a single {FALL} morpheme?
> If one includes such suppletive alternants under "allomorphy" (as 
> almost everyone does), then one also has phonologically conditioned 
> allomorphs that are not welded forms according to the proposed 
> definition (because these must be variants of the same form) (cf. 
> Carstairs 1988 on "phonologically conditioned suppletion").
> For example, Dutch has the plural forms /-s/ and /-en/, which are 
> distributed according to phonological conditions, and the division of 
> labour between the English suffixes /-ize/ and /-ify/ (/computer-ize, 
> French-ify/) is also more phonological than anything else, it seems. 
> There is no weldedness in Dutch /-s/ or English /-ize/.
> I find the notions of "form" and "form variant" (= a form with a 
> somewhat different shape due to a phonetically natural sound 
> alternation) much more viable than the traditional "morpheme" and 
> "allomorph" notions (the confusion of "morpheme" has not improved 
> since Mugdan's (1986) paper, where he traced the diverse uses of this 
> term since the 1880s).
> Best,
> Martin
> -- 
> Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10	
> D-07745 Jena
> &
> Leipzig University
> Institut fuer Anglistik
> IPF 141199
> D-04081 Leipzig
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

Mark Van de Velde
director of LLACAN (CNRS - Inalco), Paris

Please note my new address: mark.vandevelde at cnrs.fr

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20190125/519e5120/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list