[Lingtyp] odd clitic behaviours

Riccardo Giomi rgiomi at campus.ul.pt
Mon Dec 6 14:45:36 UTC 2021

Dear Martin, dear all,

> (...) our "intuitions" about clitics can have no direct role in our
> science. We need clear terms, and clear claims, and reproducible methods
> for testing our claims – intuitions are often based on traditional
> stereotypes and can be left to wither away.

I emphatically agree on this: we need to be bold and open-minded in working
out new, sounder definitions, and to not let "traditional stereotypes"
constrain our reasoning.

On the other hand, the point I was trying to make is that I am concerned
with *the implications *of a definition of the clitic/affix distinction
that takes promiscuity or lack thereof as the crucial criterion: if
It. *-icchi-
*or Portuguese *-isc-* are clitics because they are promiscuous, then what
are the consequences for our analysis of the inflectional endings that come
to their right? These are not promiscuous (I am ignoring the issue of
nominal/ajectival number and gender endings here) so they should be
affixes; but on the other hand they are separated from the root by an
element that on Martin's approach should be a clitic. So, one implication
of this approach is that we should now assume that clitics can intervene
between roots and affixes -- thus, another quite huge turnaround in
grammatical categorization that would require thoughtful examination.


> Am 06.12.21 um 15:06 schrieb Arnold M. Zwicky:
> I realize that this paper is now antique, but I continue to cling to its main claim, that CLITIC is merely an umbrella term and that (with the possible exception of two special cases, quite different from one another, and deserving technical terms of their own) the phenomena customarily referred to by that name do not constitute a single entity of theoretical interest:
> AMZ, “What is a clitic?” (in Nevis, Joseph, Wanner, & Zwicky, Clitics Bibliography, 1994).http://www.stanford.edu/~zwicky/what-is-a-clitic.pdf
> arnold (zwicky)
> _______________________________________________
> Dear Alex & all,
> I cannot help joining this discussion as the topic is extremely
> interesting and very controversial.
> Here I would like to mostly reply to Martin. For a while, after having
> read your whole series of articles on the issue, I have found your
> definition of clitics very useful and the least controversial, and I have
> used it myself in my own work. However, recently, I have realized that it
> is not completely unproblematic either. Here are a couple of controversies,
> which are mostly related to the notion of promiscuous attachment.
> (a) Let's say that "attaches to" means "immediately precedes or follows".
> But then if we take, say, the European prepositions, in many cases this is
> true that they "attach" to words of different syntactic classes. Say, in
> "in sum" in attaches to a noun "sum", "in a house" it attaches to the
> indefinite article, and "in these beautiful houses" it attaches to a
> deictic element, and then an adjective follows as well. However, the set of
> elements* in* is able to attach to is limited to what constitutes the
> English noun phrase (it cannot attach to verbs or adverbs). Therefore,
> *in* always attaches to the English noun phrase from the left, no matter
> what constitutes it. Therefore, it is kind of "promiscuous" in your strict
> sense, but it is not promiscuous on a higher level, therefore it is also a
> kind of a prefix. This made many linguists talk of "phrasal affixes", which
> makes sense after all. Moreover, if we take a language in which a noun
> obligatorily occupies the first slot in the noun phrase such a Hebrew (if
> we ignore the article), then it turns out that its prepositions are not
> promiscuous, whereas those of English are, which is very counterintuitive,
> I would say. Rather, it would be more intuitive to say that in both Hebrew
> and English prepositions attach to the noun phrase from the left, but the
> orders of elements within their noun phrases are different.
> (b) One can look even closer at the elements whose attachment is
> promiscuous, but whose promiscuity is very limited. For example, adjectives
> and nouns are definitely different word classes in Latin. However, they
> share a large part of their inflectional endings. Indeed, we have *lup-us
> bon-us* 'wolf-nom.sg.m good-nom.sg.m' and *lup-a bon-a* 'wolf-nom.sg.f
> good-nom.sg.f'. Then it turns out that according to your definition, the
> inflectional endings of Latin are to be treated as clitics in
> cross-linguistic studies. Is this a good solution?
> I still believe that with your definition, we are on the right path, but
> maybe we need some more specifications.
> Best,
> Vadimir (Panov)
> --
> Martin Haspelmath
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6
> D-04103 Leipzighttps://www.eva.mpg.de/linguistic-and-cultural-evolution/staff/martin-haspelmath/
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