Browsing Coyote Papers: Volume 03 (1982) by Title
Now showing items 6-9 of 9
Navajo Verbal Prefixes in Current Morphological TheoryDuring the last few years, there has been increasing interest in the principles of word formation and structure, which are thought to be "distinct and separate from the principles of sentence formation." (Allen 1978:2) The earlier of the proposals for the organization of the morphological component (eg. Allen (1978), Siegel (1974), Aronoff (1976)) dealt only with derivational morphology? Inflectional morphology was presumed to fall within the domain of syntax, and therefore was not expected to adhere to the same principles or utilize the same machinery as derivational morphology. Recently, several morphological theories have been proposed which provide a uniform set of machinery for accomplishing all inflectional and derivational morphological processes within the lexicon. These theories, in which words "emerge" from the lexicon fully formed, can yield interesting results for syntax, as illustrated in Farmer (1980). The majority of these modals of word formation within a generative grammar have been based on English or other (rather closely related) Indo-European languages. In this paper, we intend to investigate the claims of some recent morphological theories using facts from Navajo, an Athabaskan language with a rich polysynthetic system of morphology. In particular, we will investigate the applicability of the theories of Lieber (1980) and Williams (1981) to Navajo's elaborate verbal prefix system. In Section 1, we will outline the facts of Navajo verbal morphology which must be dealt with in a morphological theory. We will show that the Navajo verbal prefixes display a striking pattern of internal organization that has not been noticed before. In Sections 2 and 3, we will outline the proposals of Lieber and Williams, respectively, discussing the applicability of each to Navajo. In Section 4, we will describe the type of system which would be appropriate for the Navajo verb. In this regard we will address the question of hierarchical structure in Navajo verbal morphology. In Section 5, we will address the general questions which our study of Navajo raises for general morphological theory: 1) How are the differences between derivational and inflectional morphology to be characterized? and 2) How does this characterization bear on the possible parameters of a typology of morphological structure?
On the Internal Organization of Syllable ConstituentsThis paper challenges the notion that the rhyme (or "rime") is an obligatory constituent in a theory of syllable -structure.' According to this theory, the syllable is divided into an onset (the syllable - initial consonant or consonants), a peak (the peak of sonority in a syllable), and a coda (the syllable -final consonant or consonants). The peak and the coda are analyzed as forming a unique constituent, the rhyme. Here, however, I will argue against the rhyme as a universal syllable -constituent, and I will propose that, in universal grammar, the syllable has the following "flat" structure. The arguments previously adduced for the constituency of the rhyme seek to demonstrate that peak and coda have a privileged status; there are dependencies (e.g. cooccurrence restrictions) between them, as well as certain (language specific) rule-environmental conditions where both are mentioned. These arguments take such phenomena to be indicators of constituency. However, looking at a wider range of evidence (as will be done in the following sections) reveals that similar relationships hold between other parts of the syllable besides peak and coda. This would lead to a situation of "double-motherhood" where onset and peak, as well as onset and coda, comprise a constituent, since there can also be similar relationships between them. The implausibility of this structure is a serious flaw in the arguments that the peak and the coda together form a constituent, but avoiding it entails rejecting the claim that dependencies and environmental mentionings indicate constituency. But this, in turn, further entails that peak and coda do not have a privileged status as a constituent. In fact, rejecting that claim eliminates all the evidence heretofore adduced in support of the rhyme. Now, the level at which both Selkirk (1978) and Halle & Vergnaud (1980) argue for the obligatoriness of the rhyme is that it is a universal in the strong sense: it is a constituent in all languages. Selkirk argues for its universality by appealing to the existence of phonotactic constraints between peak and coda. This argument for the rhyme as a universal makes an implicit prediction that can be shown to be false (namely, that no phonotactic constraints occur between onset and peak or coda.). Halle & Vergnaud's argument for the rhyme can likewise be invalidated. They argue that all languages have a syllable - constituent, and that the rhyme is a constituent within the syllable. Their justification for the rhyme's universality is that: "... in all languages known to us [them], stress assignment rules are sensitive to the structure of the syllable rime, but disregard completely the character of the onset" (1980:93). Thus, they essentially claim that the rhyme is an obligatory universal. I will show, however, that their argument for the rhyme is likewise invalid, because of the nature of additional evidence that they did not consider. Although the arguments for the constituency of the rhyme as a universal in the strong sense fail, one still can make a weaker claim about the universality of the rhyme: that it is not an obligatory constituent but an available one, that a language can "choose" to use. I will look at some of the evidence from the recent literature that can be construed as supporting the constituency of the rhyme in the weak sense, and I will show that this evidence for the rhyme is not convincing. If the rhyme, then, is an available universal, the case for it still has to be made. After showing the weaknesses of the various arguments for the rhyme (and for non - terminal subconstituents of the syllable in general) I will present the evidence for my claim that the syllable is flat - that no hierarchical relationships exist between onset, peak, and coda.
Predicate as a Universal Syntactic CategoryRelating categories across languages is the crucial question in the study of language universals.) It will be argued here that the syntactic categories (primary sentential constituents) of a language are not projections of lexical categories, and that identifying categories across languages as equivalent, as Steele (1981) has for instantiations of the category AUX, does not rest upon a language internal correspondence between these syntactic categories and particular lexical categories. A set of language independent definitions of the syntactic categories SUBJECT, AUX, PREDICATE and ADVERBIAL in terms of the functional properties (role in function/argument structure) of sentential constituents is proposed, and the instantiation of these categories in the unrelated languages Egyptian Arabic and English is shown. This set of category definitions suffices for an economical account of sentence structure in these configurational languages, and the definitions are shown to be useful in cross-language comparisons. The claim is made here that PREDICATE is a universal syntactic category: that is, all (complete) sentences of all languages necessarily have some constituent that we may label PREDICATE. This is not true of the other syntactic categories to be identified here, nor is it true of any lexical category, including verb.
Referential Use and PolysemyWhat is the relationship between the meaning of a word and its referential uses? Katz (1979) argues that a word's meaning determines its referential uses--but only in "the null context ". Putnam (1977), on the other hand, denies that meaning determines referential use. The present paper will focus on a third, and somewhat different, attempt to answer this question: namely, that of Nunberg (1978, 1979). Nunberg (1979, p. 177) espouses a relationship between meaning and referential use that results in the conclusion that it is possible for linguistics to give a proper account of the way language is used and understood "without having to say that speakers know what words mean." This conclusion is equivalent to the claim that there can be no coherent semantic theory because, as Nunberg puts it, "The semantics /pragmatics distinction cannot be validated even in principle; there is no way to determine which regularities in use are conventional, and which are not." (Nunberg (1979), p. 143) Nunberg calls this position "radical pragmatics" and it is clear that much of contemporary speech act theory would have to be drastically revised if Nunberg's claim about ward meaning were valid. Nunberg also claims that his arguments for this conclusion are based, in part, on arguments to be found in Wittgenstein. In Section 2 of this paper, we will sketch Nunberg's arguments. In Section 3, we will show that these arguments are not valid, and that, therefore, his conclusion regarding knowledge of word meaning is false. In Section 4, we will briefly discuss Wittgenstein on this and a related matter. We do so partly to clear up misunderstandings of Wittgenstein to be found in Nunberg, but more importantly to lay the foundation for our own outline of the relationship between meaning and referential use to be found in Section 5.