Aspectuality in Bantu: on the limits of Vendler's categories
by Bastian Persohn (PDF - 273k)
In current-day aspectology, there is a strong tendency towards bi-dimensional approaches in which aspectual meaning is understood as arising through the selection of abstract lexically specified temporal phases through morphosyntactic aspectual operators. This leads to the question how much of a state-of-affairs can be represented in the lexical phase structure. By looking at data from three Bantu languages this paper shows how the widely received
categories stipulated by Vendler (1957/1967) fail to capture the behaviour of a class of lexemes commonly called 'inchoative verbs' in the Bantuist tradition. This paper further shows how the essential limits of Vendler's categories are reflected in most mainstream radical selection theories of aspect and argues in favour of a more fine-grained understanding of the lexical dimension. Thereby I aim to draw the attention of the general linguistic audience to the situation in this language family, which previously has been somewhat overlooked in typological studies of aspectuality.
The Development of Agent-demoting passives in Malayic
by Yanti, Timothy Mckinnon, Peter Cole and Gabriella Hermon (PDF - 618k)
The di-passive in Malay/Indonesian and other Malayic languages is clearly a European-type agent demotion passive; the agent, nevertheless, unexpectedly exhibits grammatical properties which are cross-linguistically typical of arguments and unusual for adjuncts. We explain the unusual properties of di-passive agents by arguing for the analysis of the di-passive construction as deriving historically from a Philippine-type voice construction in which the non-subject agent remains an argument. Based on evidence from modern and classical varieties of Malayic, we propose a pathway of historical changes whereby a Philippine-type non-active construction developed into a European-type agent demoting passive.
The Argument-Adjunct Scale: Applied Nominal and Locative Phrases in Xhosa
by Alexander Andrason (PDF - 389k)
This paper examines the categorial status of applied elements in Xhosa with respect to their argumenthood or adjuncthood. By analyzing the response of nominal and locative applied elements to various criteria and diagnostics and by adopting the hypothesis of a scalar distinction between arguments and adjuncts, the author proposes the following: The applied noun phrase approaches the prototype of argumenthood to a great degree, while the applied locative phrase is placed in the intermediate zone of the continuum, closer to the pole of adjuncthood than the nominal variant. The article provides further evidence that (a) an approximate and relative scale is more realistic than an exact and numerical scale (Forker 2014), and that (b) the valency status of a verb is, to an extent, conditioned by the dependent elements, thus failing to be directly and/or exclusively projected by the verbal head (Arka 2014).
The empirical consequences of data collection methods: A case study from Kazakh vowel harmony
by Adam McCollum (PDF - 1255k)
Empirical data is crucial to all subdisciplines of linguistics. As a result, various subdisciplines have developed best-practices to ensure the integrity of linguistic research. This paper focuses on several methodological concerns from experimental and field research. The paper argues that fieldwork should be guided by best practices from both, focusing on: stimulus ordering, register differences, and the effect of orthography. The paper describes and challenges results from a recent paper, Bowman and Lokshin (2014), which reports an unusual non-local interaction in Kazakh vowel harmony. Specifically, Bowman and Lokshin (2014) claims that two exceptional suffixes, the comitative and infinitive suffixes, exhibit what Mahanta (2012) calls "idiosyncratic transparency." Using data from colloquial and literary Kazakh, this paper argues that the data in Bowman and Lokshin (2014) are artefactual, and do not represent any known variety of Kazakh. The three methodological concerns discussed cross-cut both experimental and field methodologies, and the divergent results reported in
Bowman and Lokshin (2014) serve to highlight their importance for linguistic fieldwork.
The Syncategorematic Nature of Neo-Aramaic and English Antonyms
by Ala Al-Kajela (PDF - 566k)
Antonyms have always been considered the starting point for language learners; therefore, they are familiar cross-linguistically. In this research, we try to provide a semantic description of antonymy in Neo-Aramaic (a member of the Semitic family) as it has not been put under scrutiny in the literature. Second, we analyze the semantic features of Neo-Aramaic antonyms according to two criteria, viz., markedness and committedness. We try to answer questions such as which member neutralizes the opposition in questions and whether nominalizations of these adjectives follow the same pattern as to markedness and committedness. The study sheds some light on the universality of these criteria and how they correlate in some cases but dissociate in others. Our analysis is, in most part, context-bound and shows that adjectives tend to change their semantic features due to the influence of the quantified noun. The analysis has revealed some striking differences between Neo-Aramaic and English, for example hot and cold are not prototypical equipollents in Neo-Aramaic. Nominalizations of the adjectives are morphologically derived; suppletive nominalizations do not exist in the grammar of this language. A preference for using yes/no questions has been noticed as a manoeuvring technique with some uncalibrated attributes.
Aspects of Ethiopian Komo (morpho)phonology
by Manuel Alejandro Otero (PDF - 787k)
This paper presents the first comprehensive analysis of the phonological system of Komo (Koman of Western Ethiopia), including the tone system and morphophonological processes in the verb involving deictic directional morphology. The consonant inventory contains plain, ejective, implosive stops and an ejective affricate in three places of articulation. Komo has a seven-vowel inventory with Advanced Tongue Root (ATR) contrast in the high vowels and a typologically rare bi-directional ATR harmony system. Komo displays anticipatory [+ATR] harmony as well as progressive [–ATR] harmony, which, when taken together, call into question the notion of a single “dominant” ATR feature value in an ATR harmony system.