[Lingtyp] "grammatically encoded"

Riccardo Giomi rgiomi at campus.ul.pt
Tue Mar 7 12:30:05 UTC 2023

Dear all,

Definitionwise, I am also very fond of Boye & Harder's notion of primary
vs. secondary discourse status: but one thing is the definition (which in
itself is *not *a criterion), a different thing is its *operationalization*:
it is here that actual criteria need to be posited.

Now, in their 2012 paper Boye & Harder propose two criteria for assessing
primary or secondary discourse status: focalizability (e.g. through
clefting) and addressability (e.g. by anaphorical retrieval or by inquiring
about the truth value of an expression). In principle both make perfect
sense to me, but in actual practice I'm afraid they don't tell the wole
story. For instance, neither seems to apply to items like interjections,
which are not part of information structure (in the familiar sense of
aboutness/topicality vs. saliency/focality), are not referential and do not
have a truth value (and hence are not retrievable or addressable in B&H's
sense). So all interjections would be grammatical by these two criteria;
the other way round, all (stressable) pronouns are both focalizable and
addressable, so they would all be lexical if one sticks to B&H's criteria
(as acknowledged by the authors themselves), despite the fact that,
otherwise, they share most of the typical hallmarks of grammatical elements
(closed-class membership, high paradigmaticity, indexical/context-dependent
meaning, nor or limited modifiability...).

So my general point is that we probably need different tests for assessing
the lexical or grammatical status of different classes of linguistics
units. Staying with the case of interjections, I find the notion of
(non-)occurrence in isolation (not to be equated with morphological
bondedness!) quite useful: for sure, it is not the case that all that
cannot occur on its own is inherently grammatical (and Martin's point of
bound-only roots is a perfect example of this); but if an interjection *can
*occur in isolation, i.e. form a complete speech act, this means that it
has the potential to be discurively primary, and hence must be regarded as
a lexical item. In other words, the possibility of occuring in isolation is
a sufficient criterion for lexical status (i.e. lack of such a possibility
is a necessary criterion for grammatical status), at least for some (most?)
morphosyntactic classes. But then again, (stressable) pronouns can also
occur in isolation, so as mentioned above, I wonder whether it makes sense
to apply this test indiscriminately across morphosyntactic classes or we
should not instead posit different criteria for different classes.

Best wishes,

Jocelyn Aznar <contact at jocelynaznar.eu> escreveu no dia terça, 7/03/2023
à(s) 12:20:

> Dear all, Martin Haspelmath,
>  > – secondary in discourse vs. (potentially) primary in discourse (Boye
> & > Harder 2012)
> Thanks for sharing this reference, it is definitely very interesting. I
> should have been more careful on my terminology.
> Best,
> Jocelyn
> Le 07/03/2023 à 10:04, Martin Haspelmath a écrit :
> > Dear all,
> >
> > Linguists tend to be particularly interested in "grammatically encoded"
> > meanings, and they give special names such as "timitive" only to
> > grammatical elements, not to ordinary words like 'fear'.
> >
> > Are interjections "grammatical"? Jocelyn Aznar said yes:
> >> I would say interjections are mostly used for this usage of expressing
> >> emotions toward a situation. I'm not sure though that interjections
> >> fit your definition of "grammatically encoded", in particular the bit
> >> "not easily admit new items", but it would fit mine :)
> >>
> >> Best regards, Jocelyn
> >
> > It seems to me that we have at least three different criteria that give
> > different results:
> >
> > – bound vs. free (= not occurring in isolation vs. occurring in
> > isolation; Bloomfield 1933)
> > – secondary in discourse vs. (potentially) primary in discourse (Boye &
> > Harder 2012)
> > – closed class vs. open class
> >
> > The "closed-class" criterion is often mentioned, but languages have many
> > free forms that can be the main point of an utterance and that do not
> > (evidently) belong to open classes. For example, English "afraid"
> > belongs to a smallish class of predicative-only "adjectives". And
> > "bound" is not the same as "grammatical" either because many languages
> > have bound roots.
> >
> > So I think that Boye & Harder's criterion of being "conventionally
> > secondary in discourse" corresponds best to the way "grammatically
> > encoded" is generally understood. By this criterion, interjections (or
> > words like "afraid") are not grammatical elements.
> >
> > Best,
> > Martin
> >
> >>
> >> Le 06/03/2023 à 09:29, Ponrawee Prasertsom a écrit :
> >>> Dear typologists,
> >>>
> >>> There has been claims in the literature (Cinque, 2013) that (at least
> >>> some) speakers' emotional states toward a situation such as "fear"
> >>> and "worry" are not grammatically encoded in any language, where
> >>> "grammatically encoded" means not encoded by closed-class items
> >>> ("closed-class" in a morphosyntactic sense: a group of morphemes that
> >>> occur in the same slot that do not easily admit new items and/or have
> >>> few members).
> >>> I am interested in examples of any grammaticalized marker for any
> >>> emotional states (not necessarily "fear" and "worry"). I am
> >>> interested in both markers of 1) the /speaker/'s emotional states
> >>> toward the situation being expressed as well as 2) of the /subject/'s
> >>> emotional states toward the situation. The class of the item could be
> >>> bound (clitics, affixes) or free (particles, auxiliary verbs) as long
> >>> as it could be shown to be (somewhat) closed. I am only interested in
> >>> markers specialised for specific emotions, and not, e.g.,
> >>> impoliteness markers that could be used when the speaker is angry.
> >>>
> >>> The "(un)happy about the verb" infixes /-ei/- and -/äng-/ from the
> >>> constructed language Na'vi would be the paradigm example of what I am
> >>> looking for if they actually existed in a natural language.
> >>>
> >>> A potential example is Japanese /-yagatte, /which some have told me
> >>> have grammaticalised into an affix encoding anger about the action.
> >>> I'm also looking into whether there is evidence that this is actually
> >>> part of a closed-class and would appreciate any pointers/more
> >>> information.
> >>>
> >>> Thank you very much in advance.
> >>>
> >>> Best regards,
> >>> Ponrawee Prasertsom
> >>>
> >>> PhD student
> >>> Centre for Language Evolution
> >>> University of Edinburgh
> >>>
> >>> *References:*
> >>> Cinque, G. (2013). Cognition, universal grammar, and typological
> >>> generalizations. Lingua, 130, 50–65.
> >>> https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2012.10.007
> >>> <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2012.10.007>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
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> >>
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Riccardo Giomi, Ph.D.
University of Liège
Département de langues modernes : linguistique, littérature et traduction
Research group *Linguistique contrastive et typologie des langues*
F.R.S.-FNRS Postdoctoral fellow (CR - FC 43095)
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