[Lingtyp] Integration of postposed vowel-initial vs consonant-initial morphemes

Mark Post mark.post at sydney.edu.au
Thu Aug 27 03:57:58 UTC 2020

Dear Hiroto,

This issue comes up in analysis of the Tani languages, e.g. Galo (Post 2007), Tangam (Post 2017) and Milang (Modi 2017). In these languages, vowel-initial post-head functors (articles, postpositions and discourse particles) are phonologically more tightly integrated with a preceding base than are consonant-initial post-head functors. For example, in Galo, by triggering gemination of a CVCV stem as well as vowel coalescence: abbo < abo=ə ’father=def’ ’the father’ vs. abo go ‘father indef’ ‘a father’.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s hard to derive the sort of generalization you seem to be looking for from these data on a language-internal basis, because (a) there are very few vowel-initial post-head functors (often only one), making it hard to generalize “across a class” (as opposed to it being an idiosyncratic property of a particular morpheme), and (b) the best argument for describing post-head functors as “enclitics” is their phonological coalescence with the base - so, since consonant-initial post-head functors don’t coalesce as much, this can be used as an argument against analysing them as “enclitics”! (There are of course other criteria, such as pausing, tone spreading, capacity to take a stress accent, etc., but many if not all of these phenomena are potentially interpretable as being associated with prosodic phrases rather than with "phonological words" per se.)

All best

Post, Mark W. 2007. A Grammar of Galo. Melbourne: La Trobe University Thesis.
Post, Mark W. 2017. The Tangam Language: Grammar, Lexicon and Texts. Leiden: Brill.
Modi, Yankee. 2017. A Grammar of Milang. Bern: Universität Bern Thesis.

On 27 Aug 2020, at 10:29, Hiroto Uchihara <uchihara at buffalo.edu<mailto:uchihara at buffalo.edu>> wrote:

Dear all,

I'm aware of the asymmetry between the preposed and postposed morphemes in terms of their integration into the prosodic constituent with the stem (Himmelman 2014; Asao 2015), but is anyone aware of the difference in the level of integration between the vowel-initial vs consonant-initial postposed morphemes (suffixes or enclitics)?

I have been observing that this might be the case in a couple of languages, including Teotitlán Zapotec and Alcozauca Mixtec. For instance in Teotitlán Zapotec, vowel-initial enclitics are clearly within the domain of syllabification, while consonant-initial enclitics are not. In Alcozauca Mixtec, it might be the case that vowel-initial enclitics are incorporated into the prosodic word, while consonant-initial enclitics are not. Is this something commonly reported in the literature?

I would appreciate any insights.

Best regards,

Asao, Yoshihiko. 2015. Left-Right Asymmetries in Words: A Processing-Based Account. Ph.D. dissertation, SUNY Buffalo
Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 2014. Asymmetries in the prosodic phrasing of function words: Another look at the suffixing preference. Language 90(4). 927–960.
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