[Lingtyp] Utterance boundaries as a universal concept?

Ian Joo I.Joo at tilburguniversity.edu
Thu Dec 15 05:31:19 UTC 2022

Dear typologists,

many grammars employ the terms “word-initial”, “word-final”, and “word-medial”, without specifying what a “word” is.
And, as we have discussed earlier, there is no consensus on what a “word” is, or whether it is a cross-linguistically valid concept.
But can we at least agree that the following concepts are universal: “utterance-initial”, “utterance-final”, and “utterance-medial”?
As all human utterances are finite (signed or spoken), the corollary is that there is a beginning, the ending, and phases in between.
For example, instead of saying that “a lect does not allow /r/ word-initially”, can we say that it does not allow /r/ utterance-initially?
Would it save us from the conceptual ambiguity of woordhood?

From Hong Kong,

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