LINGUIST List 5.1198

Sun 30 Oct 1994

Misc: Comparative method, French clitics, Analogy, "linguist"

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  1. , Re: 5.1168 Comparative Method
  2. "R.Hudson", French clitics
  3. "Margaret E. Winters, analogy
  4. MARC PICARD, Linguist, linguistician, philologist, et al.

Message 1: Re: 5.1168 Comparative Method

Date: Mon, 24 Oct 94 17:12:14 ESRe: 5.1168 Comparative Method
Subject: Re: 5.1168 Comparative Method

In reply to Jacques Guy:

 Unfortunately, it is difficult to look up an unpublished paper,
which, therefore, can hardly be used as an evidence for the total
dismissal of the idea of the basic vocabulary. It is certainly true
that many items in both Swadesh's lists are not universal: there will
be hardly a word for "snake" in Eskimo or the word for "ice" in Hawaiian.
Nevertheless, both Eskimos and Hawaiians DRINK WATER, HEAR with their EARS,
SEE with their EYES, and cook their food on FIRE. Should I continue?
 There are cases when there may be two words for water in a language,
the known cases for me being Hopi and Ainu, first differentiating between
contained water and water in nature, and the second between drinkable and
undrinkable water. It is possible to imagine a language which would have sepa-
rate words for a left and a right eye (though I do not know one), but such
cases are not by any means universal, and they are not an obstacle for appli-
cation of the comparative method, since even under these circumstances we
never have ten different words for "eye". Therefore, I think that it is
possible to come up with a list of basic vocabulary, which may undergo certain
modifications, but its core will remain. An interesting attempt of this kind
is A. Dolgopol'skii's list of 15 items, all of which, I believe are pretty


Alexander Vovin
Miami University
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Message 2: French clitics

Date: Wed, 26 Oct 94 08:44:27 +0French clitics
From: "R.Hudson" <>
Subject: French clitics

If `object pronouns' are just inflections, why is it that they are treated
like separate object NPs by the rule that makes a past participle agree
with its object provided the latter precedes it?

 (1) Je l'ai e'crite (la lettre).
 I it have written (the letter)
 (2) La lettre que j'ai e'crite ...
 the letter that I have written (fem sing)

 (3) J'ai e'crit_ la lettre.
 I have written the letter

I agree with Auger and Miller that genuine inflectional morphology should be
invisible to syntax, contrary to much GB practice, but clitics do seem to
have a genuine intermediate status as units which are part of syntactic
structure but which are also treated like parts of other words (e.g. for
what I imagine is an uncontroversial example, take "'re" in "We're ready").

Dick Hudson
Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics,
University College London,
Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT
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Message 3: analogy

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 94 21:40:58 CSanalogy
From: "Margaret E. Winters <>
Subject: analogy

I've been thinking about Joe Stemberger's posting about analogy,
and fully agree with him that the example he cites is not a good
one at all. But I think there is a more important point to make,
that is, that analogy is not about prediction and therefore the
failure of something to be grammatical is not a failure of any
theory of analogy. J. Kurylowicz, in his "La nature des proces
dits analogiques" (Lingua 1945-49), uses a frequently quoted
image of weather: we can have sewers, downspouts, gutters, and
so on, but if it doesn't rain, they don't function. And, we
cannot predict when it will rain. I would also suggest that Joe's
characterization of analogy functioning when two linguistic units
share, to a degree, both form and meaning is perhaps an exaggeration
of initial similarity. There can be sharings of meaning without
form (so that `went' gets changed by analogy to weak verbs to `goed'
by children at a certain stage of acquisition where the pair `go'
`went' share a high degree of meaning but no form at all) and
form without meaning (folk etymologies of all kinds).

As an aside to Joe's aside, `I saw the barn red' can also be
said by an artist explaining her mental conception of the barn
which caused her to paint it (on canvas or as a building) red.
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Message 4: Linguist, linguistician, philologist, et al.

Date: Sat, 29 Oct 1994 11:55:35 Linguist, linguistician, philologist, et al.
Subject: Linguist, linguistician, philologist, et al.

 Why don't we forget about all this hoity-toity Latinate and Grecian
terminology, and just call ourselves TONGUESTERS?
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