[Lingtyp] words, bound forms, welded forms
lubingfu at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 25 22:24:12 UTC 2019
I just wonder is there a term for bounded forms that attach to phrases instead of words. For example, English plural marker –(e)s attaches to nominal words. English third person singular marker –(e)s attaches to verbal words. But English possessive marker –’s attaches to nominal phrases, such as in the King of England’s daughter. I think the difference is very important in typology.
On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 4:43:16 AM PST, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at shh.mpg.de> wrote:
In the discussion of words, affixes, and polysynthesis, the notion of forms being "bound" occurs again and again, and in the discussion of agglutination, people often talk about complex words being "fused" (or not fused). In order to make headway, I feel that we as linguists should make clear how we use terms like "attached", "bound", and "fused".
In my own work, I have been using the term "bound" in the well-established Bloomfield-Zwicky sense (= unable to occur in isolation), but some people have relied on a notion of "phonologically bound" in discussions of wordhood. I think it's better not to use "bound" in two different senses, so I would like to propose the new term "welded" for the phonological sense. In the short text below, I define (and discuss the relation between) the terms "bound" and "welded".
Since I don't know the literature on phonological wordhood (since Roussel 1922) as well as some others on this list evidently know it, my specific question is: Is there a prominent place in the literature where the notion "phonologically bound" has been introduced or defined? (If so, I may rethink my terminological proposals.)
The general question is: Are there better alternatives to what I am proposing?
Bound forms and welded forms: Two basic concepts of grammar
(possible future blogpost)
Linguists often try to characterize affixes in terms of a notion of “boundness”, as in this passage of the Wikipedia article “affix”:
Lexical affixes are bound elements that appear as affixes, but function as incorporated nouns within verbs
But what exactly is meant by “bound”? Is it just a synonym of “attached” (as in Wikipedia’s definition of affix: “an affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word or word form”), and are both terms just informal ways of saying that an affix occurs together with a stem?
But if so, what is the difference between an affix occurring together with a stem, and a verb occurring together with an object nominal? Linguists don’t normally say that objects are bound to their verbs, but in what sense is an affix bound but an object nominal is not bound?
This seems like a very basic question, but linguists do not have consistent answers to this question. The first answer they give often involves the notion of “word”, but linguists have not found a general way of identifying words across languages (as I noted in a 2011 article). If at all, words can be characterized in terms of a more basic concept such as “bound”, it seems, not the other way round.
So here I would like to make a proposal how to use the term “bound”, which also involves the introduction of a new term “welded”. Basically, I propose that a bound form is one that cannot occur in isolation, while a welded form is one that shows segmental phonological interaction with its neighbour.
For example, the English preposition from, the possessive pronoun my, and the definite article the are bound forms. Consider the following contrasts:
(1) a. The dog went through the fence.
b. The dog went through.
c. The cat jumped from the table.
d. *The cat jumped from.
(2) a. I saw Kim’s bike.
b. I saw Kim’s.
c. She found my umbrella.
d. *She found my.
(3) a. We like those caps.
b. We like those.
c. He bought the cap.
d. *He bought the. (‘He bought it.’)
Of course, most forms that are written as affixes are also bound, but as the examples (1)-(3) show, not all forms that are written separately are free in the sense that they can occur on their own.
This meaning of the term bound goes back to Bloomfield (1933), and it has become particularly well-known through Arnold Zwicky’s work on clitics. Zwicky’s famous (1977) paper distinguishes three classes of elements: simple clitics, special clitics, and bound words. The most widely cited paper that proposes criteria for distinguishing between clitics and affxes, Zwicky & Pullum (1983), begins as follows:
“Two types of bound morphemes are found attached to (free) words in many languages: clitics and affixes”
Affixes are always thought of as parts of words, while clitics are generally thought of as words. Thus, the notion of boundness cross-cuts the distinction between words and parts of words.
In the discussions about wordhood that I often have with fellow grammarians, they often mention phonological interaction: Some elements interact phonologically with their neighbours, while others don’t. Some contrasts are given in (4)-(6). I propose to say that the forms in (b) are welded, while those in (a) are not.
(4) a. my pear / my apple
b. a pear / an apple
(5) a. German film-te / golf-te
b. English film-ed [-d] / golf-ed [-t]
(6) a. good / good-ness
b. mortal [-əl] / mortal-ity [-æl-iti]
In (4)-(5), we see that some (but not all) of the bound forms have different phonological variants depending on phonological properties of their host, and in (6b), we see that the host can have different phonological variants depending on whether it combines with a bound form or not. A bound form is welded to its host if it shows different variants depending on the shape of the host or if the host shows different variants depending on the shape of the bound form.
So clearly, boundness and weldedness are different properties of linguistic form: A form may be bound but not welded (e.g. English my, -ness, German -te), or a form may be both bound and welded (e.g. English a/an, -ed [-t/-d]).
Can a form be welded but not bound? No, this is excluded by definition: If a form can be used both on its own and in combination with a bound form, and if it has a different shape when combined with the bound form, then we do not say that the form as such is welded. For example, the English verb write can be used on its own (e.g. as an imperative), and when the agent noun suffix -er is added, it may have a different shape (with flapped r): wri[ɾ]-er. Thus, -er is a welded form, but we would not want to say that write is a welded form.
Some linguists use a different term for what I am calling “welded” here: “phonologically bound”. This seems to occur fairly frequently, but unlike the use of “bound” in the sense “free-standing”, it does not seem to have a clear pedigree.
Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10
Institut fuer Anglistik
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