[Lingtyp] odd clitic behaviours

Zingler, Tim Tim.Zingler at uibk.ac.at
Wed Dec 1 12:03:22 UTC 2021

Hi Alex,

I’m afraid I can’t recall anything that is exactly parallel to what you describe, but I can think of a few phenomena that are reasonably close. I hope my reply is somewhat coherent or, failing that, that you will at least find the references useful.

One item that seems relevant, and which kind of bears on both 1) and 2), is the 1SG pronoun in Krongo, for which a very interesting and nuanced description can be found in Reh’s grammar from 1985 (which is in German, though). Yet another element that seems pertinent is a 3SG marker from one variety of Hup, which is described in the grammar by Epps (2008). Here’s how I understand it (I’m not a specialist on either one of these languages): In both cases, the pronoun in question typically/overwhelmingly occurs in one position with respect to the verb, but it can also occur on the opposite side of the verb under very special pragmatic and/or syntactic conditions. There are also phonological differences between the variants in both languages so that one can apparently be considered a free word and the other one, an affix (or at least phonologically dependent).

As for 1), there is of course also definiteness marking in Scandinavian. But from what I seem to remember, that's mostly about having definiteness markers either after the noun or both before and after the noun. So, it might not be strictly about preposing vs. postposing. Here too, though, many people subscribed to this list will be more qualified to analyze this.

With regard to 2), I guess the main question is if there are compelling arguments in favor of a clitic analysis to begin with. The fact that these markers have traditionally been considered enclitics does not mean that that is necessarily the best analysis, especially because the term “clitic” has been applied so inconsistently across researchers, eras, and traditions. Apart from that, though, Bybee (2015: 121) mentions that the Spanish future markers were only regularly attached to the verb in writing once they had fully grammaticalized. So, what you are observing is probably a reflection of the fact that this marker has not fully grammaticalized yet. Cf. also the brief discussions in Dixon & Aikhenvald (2002: 30-31) and Aikhenvald et al. (2020: 17-18) on this point (not to mention the most recent discussion on this mailing list). Finally, your description suggests that this one marker might also be an “anti-clitic” (cf. Zúñiga 2014) in some respects. Based on my own reading experience, those are never distinguished from clitics, so that might also explain the traditional analyses you mention.

Finally, such cases raise the important issue of when formally different elements can be considered instances of the same abstract unit. More specifically, are free forms and affixes (or clitic forms and affixes) such as the ones mentioned above to be subsumed under the same morpheme somehow? If not, at what level are they instances of the same thing, then?




Aikhenvald, Alexandra, R.M.W. Dixon & Nathan White. 2020. The essence of ‘word.’ In Aikhenvald, Alexandra, R.M.W. Dixon & Nathan White (eds.), Phonological word and grammatical word, 1-24. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bybee, Joan. 2015. Language change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dixon, R.M.W. & Alexandra Aikhenvald. 2002. Word: A typological framework. In Dixon, R.M.W. & Alexandra Aikhenvald (eds.), Word: A cross-linguistic typology, 1-41. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Epps, Patience. 2008. A grammar of Hup. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Reh, Mechthild. 1985. Die Krongo-Sprache (Nìinò Mó-dì). Berlin: Reimer.

Zúñiga, Fernando. 2014. (Anti-)cliticization in Mapudungun. Morphology 24, 161-175.

Von: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> im Auftrag von Alexander Rice <ax.h.rice at gmail.com>
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 1. Dezember 2021 07:49:27
An: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Betreff: [Lingtyp] odd clitic behaviours

Dear typologists

I'm working with a variety of Quechua, I have a set of three morphemes. They and their equivalents in related varieties are traditionally analyzed as evidential enclitcs or suffixes.

However in some data that I've been working with recently I've noticed a couple of interesting behaviours of these enclitics:

1) They sometimes manifest as pro-clitics but only on the copular verb and in a much more phonologically reduced from

2) At least one of the three appears to manifest as a phonologically independent "word'. A native speaker with whom I work sometimes transcribes the clitic as a separate word, and upon my review of the recordings, many of these do appear to be phonologically independent from what would usually be the phonological host, and in some instances, they occur at the beginning of an intonational unit.

I wonder if any of you have encountered or know of similar phenomena, any references would be most appreciated.

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