(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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eldin raigmore
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Pabappa wrote:
11 Jun 2020 23:47
Are there languages in which the equivalent of "my today's breakfast" would be grammatical? It seems to be a common mistake among English learners, perhaps including young native speakers. The only way to properly express this in English is to take one of the modifiers out of the clause and either say "my breakfast (for) today" or, less commonly, "today's breakfast for me". Or else reword the sentence entirely and have "the breakfast I ate today".

But it seems like such a simple construction .... I'd expect there must be at least some languages that allow it. Ideally from an inflecting language that uses the genitive inflection on both the 1st person pronoun and the word "today", such that the two words fulfill identical roles in the sentence.
I believe it’s perfectly acceptable/accepted English.
Your post is the first time I’ve heard its grammaticality questioned.
I not only understood it immediately and unambiguously; it didn’t sound weird to me.

I don’t even know whether in my idiolect I’d be unlikely to choose it over “my breakfast today”. I think I would, but ...

I propose or hypothesize that it may be unlikely in certain dialects (or registers; or maybe also genres?), but it isn’t ungrammatical for the language as a whole.
Not a *asterisk for ungrammatical.
And not really an entire ?question-mark for “marked” or “questionable” grammaticality.
If there were such a thing as half of a question-mark, maybe that.
Last edited by eldin raigmore on 06 Jul 2020 07:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 02:30
Pabappa wrote:
11 Jun 2020 23:47
Are there languages in which the equivalent of "my today's breakfast" would be grammatical? It seems to be a common mistake among English learners, perhaps including young native speakers. The only way to properly express this in English is to take one of the modifiers out of the clause and either say "my breakfast (for) today" or, less commonly, "today's breakfast for me". Or else reword the sentence entirely and have "the breakfast I ate today".

But it seems like such a simple construction .... I'd expect there must be at least some languages that allow it. Ideally from an inflecting language that uses the genitive inflection on both the 1st person pronoun and the word "today", such that the two words fulfill identical roles in the sentence.
Very acceptable in Spanish. Mi desayuno de hoy.
Depends what he's asking. Semantically, sure - and semantically there are fine ways of saying it in English too - "my breakfast for today" is probably the easiest, or indeed just "my breakfast today". "My breakfast of the day" is also possible, though only found I think in specific contexts (sory of suggests having different things for breakfast each day, etc).

But the reason it's absolutely impossible in English is not semantic, but syntactic: we can't have two genitives modify the same head, and we can't have a possessive adjective modify something that's already modified by a genitive.

I think there's probably three reasons for this. Semantically, of course, such a double-genitive is rarely needed. And in terms of parsing, such constructions have to be avoided because they're formally identical to a construction where one genitive modifies the other ["My aunt's breakfast", for instance - is the breakfast yours, or the aunt? Well, because in English we use this construction to say that the aunt is yours, we can't also use it to say that the breakfast is yours].

That second reason in turn is because of English word order, and the rule can be reordered to say 'possessives must modify the adjacent noun phrase': because our fixed word order puts all our possessives to the left of the noun, they would have to act 'through' each other and this couldn't be distinguished from acting on one another. Notably, most of the ways to rephrase this in English use postpositive adjectives and prepositional phrases specifically because they come after the noun, letting us put the two modifiers on different sides of the same noun and hence have their scope be unambiguous.

We can only put both possessives on the left, but both modifying the same head, when the medial possessive is actually part of a lexical item with the head. So "his widow's peak" is "his [widow's peak]", not "[his widow's] peak" because "widow's peak" has become covertly lexicalised. Similarly expressions like "day's work" are effectively fixed lexical units now. [note that it's common to say "finished my day's work" or "finished my life's work", but "finished my year's work" sounds, at best, really weird, and we'd almost always prefer "finished my work for the year" or "finished this year's work" or the like].

[prediction: languages with suffixaufnahme may well allow these double-possessive structures, because the ambiguities do not arise]


Finally, AIUI/AIR, there's a deeper issue here about definiteness in Germanic languages - AIUI/AIR, there was already an (albeit weaker) prohibition on double-definitising nouns in Old Germanic, before the word order became fixed. As possessive adjectives, definite articles and genitives all make a noun definite, you can only have one of them at a time: no "the Gandalf's staff" or "my the cat" [instead, the staff of Gandalf and the cat of mine - prepositional phrases don't inherently make the noun definite, so a definitiser is still allowed].

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

Salmoneus wrote:
05 Jul 2020 18:12
Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 02:30
Very acceptable in Spanish. Mi desayuno de hoy.
Depends what he's asking. [...]
Well, I would also accept a more explicitly doubly-marked possession with a human NP: el desayuno de hoy de Elvira, el desayuno de hoy de las enfermeras. It's a rather uncommon construction to use though, because typically the head noun has been modified as being "of today" before, or because the human possessor has also been mentioned before and so appears with the more common construction with a pronoun: mi desayuno de hoy 'my breakfast for today'.

It's pretty interesting that you mention a larger pattern in Germanic of avoiding double definite marking with articles, possessive adjectives and genitive nouns, unless a prepositional phrase gets involved. Romance languages of course don't have such a history with their basic determiners, with constructions like:
- Old Spanish (and some dialectal Spanish today) la su casa 'his house'
- Spanish esta su muñeca 'this doll of hers', esa su muñeca 'that doll of hers'
- Salvadoran Spanish una su muñeca 'a certain doll of hers, a doll of hers'
- Spanish todas las casas 'all houses, all the houses, every house'
- Portuguese ambos os lados 'both sides' (interestingly considered "vulgar" in some Brazilian dialects, but always prestigious in Portugal!)
- Old Gallo-Romance cadhuna cosa 'each thing' < κατὰ ūnam causam
- Middle French chacune chose 'each thing' < quamque ūnam causam
- Spanish alguna casa 'some house or other, a house somewhere' < aliquam ūnam casam

I'm not aware of any language with "which?" + article though (imaginary Spanish *cuál la cosa 'which thing?'), although as a relative pronoun (not an interrogative one) many or most medieval and early modern Romance languages have article + "which" + redundant/generalizing noun (Spanish fuimos a la plaza, el cual lugar nos esperaba 'we went to the townsquare, a place that was waiting for us', literally "..., the which place was waiting for us"), a usage that still tends to stick around in literary/fanciful writing.
Last edited by Ser on 05 Jul 2020 22:01, edited 2 times in total.
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Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 20:22
Salmoneus wrote:
05 Jul 2020 18:12
Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 02:30
Very acceptable in Spanish. Mi desayuno de hoy.
Depends what he's asking. [...]
Well, I would also accept a more explicitly double possession with an NP: el desayuno de hoy de Elvira, el desayuno de hoy de las enfermeras. It's a rather uncommon construction to use though, because typically the head noun has been modified as being "of today" before, or because the human possessor also has and so appears with the more common construction with a pronoun: mi desayuno de hoy 'my breakfast for today'.

It's pretty interesting that you mention a larger pattern in Germanic of avoiding double definite marking with articles, possessive adjectives and genitive nouns, unless a prepositional phrase gets involved. Romance languages of course don't have such a history with their basic determiners, with constructions like:
- Old Spanish (and some dialectal Spanish today) la su casa 'his house'
- Spanish esta su muñeca 'this doll of hers', esa su muñeca 'that doll of hers'
- Salvadoran Spanish una su muñeca 'a certain doll of hers, a doll of hers'
- Spanish todas las casas 'all houses, all the houses, every house'
- Portuguese ambos os lados 'both sides' (interestingly considered "vulgar" in some Brazilian dialects, but always prestigious in Portugal!)
- Old Gallo-Romance cadhuna cosa 'each thing' < κατὰ ūnam causam
- Middle French chacune chose 'each thing' < quamque ūnam causam
- Spanish alguna casa 'some house or other, a house somewhere' < aliquam ūnam casam
I’ll just add that in Sardinian, determiners are obligatory with possessives so you get stuff like “sa domo mea” (my house) or “sos gattos tous” (your cats)
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Post by Parlox »

Creyeditor wrote:
24 Jun 2020 23:37
What exactly do you mean by that? A uvular trill with an alveolar lateral release? A uvular trill with a velar lateral release? As for a uvular lateral release, people have argued that uvular laterals are impossible. Anyway, I don't think any of these is attested in any natlang I know of. The closest I can think of is Mee /g͡ʟ/ which has an intervocalic allophone [ɣ͡ʟ].
Sorry for the late reply.. I mean a uvular lateral in the truest sense, no alveolar lateral or velar lateral release. I personally can pronounce a uvular lateral trill so I'm kind of curious about who argued it isn't possible?
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Post by Creyeditor »

Parlox wrote:
05 Jul 2020 20:47
Creyeditor wrote:
24 Jun 2020 23:37
What exactly do you mean by that? A uvular trill with an alveolar lateral release? A uvular trill with a velar lateral release? As for a uvular lateral release, people have argued that uvular laterals are impossible. Anyway, I don't think any of these is attested in any natlang I know of. The closest I can think of is Mee /g͡ʟ/ which has an intervocalic allophone [ɣ͡ʟ].
Sorry for the late reply.. I mean a uvular lateral in the truest sense, no alveolar lateral or velar lateral release. I personally can pronounce a uvular lateral trill so I'm kind of curious about who argued it isn't possible?
They are definitely not attested in natlangs and the English example on Wikipedia is a uvularized lateral. I am actually not sure who argued that they are impossible, but it might be connected to the flacity of the uvula and the stiffness required for a lateral articulation. Maybe it is even in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996): The Sounds of the World's Languages. When I try to pronounce a uvular lateral, my tongue reaches back to a post-velar position, but it does not really fully reach the uvula, but I might be wrong.
Edit: Ladefoged, Peter, Ann Cochran & Sandra Disner (1977). Laterals and trills.JIPA7:2, 46–54. is another source, I found.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

What is the semantic process that led to the grammaticalization of the word "have" (and similar words in Romance languages)? What makes "have" become a signifier of the perfect aspect? Are there any other words that are likely to indicate the same aspect in other languages?

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Post by Pabappa »

I think "be" did the same thing in Slavic. e.g. "I am loved" (where loved is a participle, not past tense) was their version of "I have loved", and was never considered a passive. Wild guess here .... maybe it comes from a literal interpretation e.g. "i have someone who is loved" ----> " i have loved (someone)" ----> "I have loved".

Whatever it is, it happened again in Portuguese, which uses ter (c. Sp /tener/) instead. And the English use may be independent as well.

i guess theres also the future tense ... Eng "I have to go" = Sp "tengo que ir" (I think).
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Post by Salmoneus »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
06 Jul 2020 18:37
What is the semantic process that led to the grammaticalization of the word "have" (and similar words in Romance languages)? What makes "have" become a signifier of the perfect aspect? Are there any other words that are likely to indicate the same aspect in other languages?
There have of course been multiple grammaticalisations of the word "have" in Romance languages!

Regarding the perfect, it's usually said to come from a syntactic ambiguity. I don't know the exact word order in vulgar latin, but we can imagine the same process in Germanic, where it also happened, in an old syntax in which adjectives follow the noun, and complements of auxiliaries (are they complements? whatever they're called) are clause-final:

"I have the [letters written]" - there are written letters, and I have them. Adjective follows object noun.
becomes
"I [have [the letters] written]" - where "have... written" is the verbal phrase, mirroring "I [must] the letters [write]", "I [have] the letters [to write]" or "the letters [are] by my father [written]".

In some languages, including English, there's then a further trend to front verbal matter and back objects, so that "I have the written letters" and "I have written the letters" become distinct.

------

Why does this happen semantically?
Well, if you, for instance, have the finished manuscript, this tends to indicate that a) the manuscript was unfinished, but relatively recently has become finished; and b) having the manuscript, and the manuscript having been finished, is in some way important to whatever it is you want to do next. Which is of course basically the sense that the perfect implies.

Hence, an expression like "the boy has a broken leg" very easily semantically blurs into an expression like "the boy has broken a leg" - and in Old Romance and Old Germanic, the two expressions were syntactically the same.

[in Old Germanic, they were also syntactically the same as the old grammaticalised-have causative construction, "the boy has a leg broken" (the boy gets someone to break his leg), distinguished only by tense and common sense.]

[similarly, the adjectival "I have letters to write" was once syntactically the same as the modal "I have to write the letters"]

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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thank you both for the explanations [:D] I had not thought about the re-arrangement of the words.

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Post by loglorn »

Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 20:22
Salmoneus wrote:
05 Jul 2020 18:12
Ser wrote:
05 Jul 2020 02:30
Very acceptable in Spanish. Mi desayuno de hoy.
Depends what he's asking. [...]
I'm not aware of any language with "which?" + article though (imaginary Spanish *cuál la cosa 'which thing?'), although as a relative pronoun (not an interrogative one) many or most medieval and early modern Romance languages have article + "which" + redundant/generalizing noun (Spanish fuimos a la plaza, el cual lugar nos esperaba 'we went to the townsquare, a place that was waiting for us', literally "..., the which place was waiting for us"), a usage that still tends to stick around in literary/fanciful writing.
A bit late, maybe, but your 'imaginary Spanish' is perfectly legit Portuguese in most if not all lects (i'm fairly certain for all Brazilian lects, less so for European ones); qual a coisa is perfectly valid, but i think it is syntactically restricted (more speakers and more systematic info needed but,)

Você viu qual coisa? 'which thing did you see?'
*Você viu qual a coisa? 'which thing did you see?'
Qual a coisa que você viu? 'which thing was the one you saw?' (a bit too literal the Portuguese inversion doesn't feel quite as marked)
?Qual coisa que você viu? 'which thing was the one you saw?'
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Post by Ser »

loglorn wrote:
08 Jul 2020 06:59
A bit late, maybe, but your 'imaginary Spanish' is perfectly legit Portuguese in most if not all lects (i'm fairly certain for all Brazilian lects, less so for European ones); qual a coisa is perfectly valid, but i think it is syntactically restricted (more speakers and more systematic info needed but,)

Você viu qual coisa? 'which thing did you see?'
*Você viu qual a coisa? 'which thing did you see?'
Qual a coisa que você viu? 'which thing was the one you saw?' (a bit too literal the Portuguese inversion doesn't feel quite as marked)
?Qual coisa que você viu? 'which thing was the one you saw?'
Fantastic, wonderful. That's going into my collection now. [:D] [:D] [:D] I should really read more about Portuguese grammar.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

1. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and adjective-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than adjective-roots?

2. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than verb-roots?

3. Does nearly every natlang that has both adjective-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more adjective-roots than verb-roots?

..........

I ask because according to the lexicographers of the most recent OED, English is an example of “yes” for all three questions.

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Post by Ser »

eldin raigmore wrote:
09 Jul 2020 21:42
1. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and adjective-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than adjective-roots?

2. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than verb-roots?

3. Does nearly every natlang that has both adjective-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more adjective-roots than verb-roots?
How does one decide whether a root is a verb-root or a noun-root?

If I look at an Arabic root, say, k-t-b, and its basic derived words like kataba 'to write' (using the CaCaCa transfix that creates action verbs) and kitaab 'book' (using the CiCaaC transfix that creates nouns), how do I decide whether I should call it a "verb-root" or a "noun-root"? You could argue that 'book' might be less basic and be a result noun of kataba, but I'd reply that Arabic doesn't normally use CiCaaC to derive result nouns, in fact, more often than not this a plural transfix of a singular created with CaCC(-a) or CaCaC (sall-a 'basket' pl. silaal 'baskets', jabal 'mountain' pl. jibaal), but kitaab is a singular with plural kutub. How does one know that kitaab isn't a borrowing with kataba based on it, or that kataba wasn't created after kitaab?

Or, for another example, sˤ-b-ħ, which derives the basic words sˤabuħa 'to be or become beautiful' (using the CaCuCa transfix that creates stative verbs) and sˤubħ 'dawn' (using the CuCC transfix that creates nouns). Could sˤubħ have meant 'beautiful' at one point, and sˤabuħa derived from that? Or n-dʒ-m, which produces nadʒama 'to appear in sight, arise' and nadʒm 'star' (the latter using the CaCC transfix that creates nouns). Or b-z-q, with bazaqa 'to spit' and buzaaq 'saliva'.

Or, if I look at Classical Chinese, does 自, pronounced zì in Mandarin, count as an adverb-root (or pronoun-root) because it can mean 'for oneself' or 'by oneself', or a verb-root because it can mean 'to be from [a place]'?

Or, if we look at English in fact, is "urge" a verb-root or a noun-root?
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eldin raigmore wrote:
09 Jul 2020 21:42
1. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and adjective-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than adjective-roots?

2. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than verb-roots?

3. Does nearly every natlang that has both adjective-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more adjective-roots than verb-roots?

..........

I ask because according to the lexicographers of the most recent OED, English is an example of “yes” for all three questions.
Just from anecdotal experience, I would say that most these languages have more verbs than adjectives or nouns and less adjectives than verbs or nouns. Of course, you have to exclude proper names from the noun category, because otherwise, in some languages, you might just be able to add nouns over and over. And it's hard to draw the line. Place names? Names of Deities? Names of Planets? Etc, etc.
English might just be strange.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Ser wrote:
10 Jul 2020 06:05
eldin raigmore wrote:
09 Jul 2020 21:42
1. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and adjective-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than adjective-roots?

2. Does nearly every natlang that has both noun-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more noun-roots than verb-roots?

3. Does nearly every natlang that has both adjective-roots and verb-roots distinct from each other, have significantly more adjective-roots than verb-roots?
How does one decide whether a root is a verb-root or a noun-root?
A good question, of course.

My interpretation of the question, though, is just that a noun root produces nouns - by a productive and semantically predictable non-compound process* - and a verb root produces verbs, and so forth. A language then 'has both noun-roots and adjective roots distinct from each other' when there are some noun roots that are not adjective roots, and/or vice versa.

I assume eldin does not intend to rule out all languages where some noun roots are also (or are homophonous with) verb roots, etc - since that would probably be all languages. "Urge" in English is in this way both a noun root and a verb root (and arguably an adjective root); however, 'octopus' is just a noun root, and 'explode' is just a verb root.

[a bigger problem in English is that all nouns can be verbs and vice versa: it would be perfectly possible for people to start writing "she octopused through the narrow gap in the fence" or "our media research reveals 42% more significant explodes in the last quarter of activity". In this sense English could be argued to be a noncategorial language. However, I think it's still meaningful to talk of distinct noun and verb categories in English, because there are some words that are not used as verbs, and some that are not used as nouns, and if they come to be used in those ways it will not be wholly predictable what their semantics will be; thus I think in English it makes more sense to talk of noun and verb categories with unrestricted zero-derivation, rather than noncategorialness]

*by 'non-compound process', I mean a process to produce, say, a verb from a root that can NOT be broken down into, say, a noun-forming process and then a distinct noun-to-verb-deriving process.


Regarding your Arabic examples, I would also distinguish between an etymological or lexicographical 'root' - useful in grouping words in dictionaries - and a genuine morphosyntactic root. I think X is only the morphosyntactic root of Y if Y can productively and predictably be derived from X; merely looking similar raises, as you point out, questions about etymology that should not be relevant to the synchronic analysis. So from what you say, it sounds like, for example, the s-b-h 'root' is not actually the morphosyntactic root of the word for 'dawn', even if it is the etymological root, because the derivation is not predictable (i.e. semantically transparent).


-------------


Going back to eldin's questions:

'3' is absolutely NOT the case, at all. There are many languages with distinct but very small true adjective classes (many Austronesian languages, for a start).

I believe '2' isn't true either. AIUI, in many North American polysynthetic languages the translations of many English nouns are in fact analysable as inflected verbs, and distributionally indistinguishable from deranked verbs (so, to invent an example, verbal "it is slithering" where English has nominal "snake"; "I saw the snake" would then be translated by something that would be identical in form with the translation of "I saw the one that was slithering"). I can't guarantee that this is true, but it's what I believe I've heard. AIUI, these languages do indeed typically have a distinct noun class not analysable in this way, but this class is relatively small, and much smaller than the class of verbs.

And of course, if 2 is untrue, then 1 must be untrue also, if some of these languages fail to distinguish verb and adjective classes, which I suspect they do...

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Post by eldin raigmore »

“Ser” wrote: How does one decide whether a root is a verb-root or a noun-root?
If it isn’t clear, that’s not one of the languages I’m asking about in that question. (Question 2).
“Creyeditor” wrote: Just from anecdotal experience, I would say that most these languages have more verbs than adjectives or nouns and less adjectives than verbs or nouns. Of course, you have to exclude proper names from the noun category, because otherwise, in some languages, you might just be able to add nouns over and over. And it's hard to draw the line. Place names? Names of Deities? Names of Planets? Etc, etc.
English might just be strange.
(Thanks for the most relevant and responsive of the answers so far!)
Of course only common nouns are meant; proper nouns don’t usually belong to paradigms that have roots IIANM.
But maybe I am mistaken and those two (questions 1 and 2) of my three questions are not well-posed;
in which case I’d need help to re-pose them.

I am hoping for an answer that’s not just anecdotal, but since I have at most one anecdote, anyone else’s anecdotes are still information I didn’t have before!

(Also; maybe English IS just strange!)
“Salmoneus” wrote: My interpretation of the question, though, is just that a noun root produces nouns - by a productive and semantically predictable non-compound process* - and a verb root produces verbs, and so forth. A language then 'has both noun-roots and adjective roots distinct from each other' when there are some noun roots that are not adjective roots, and/or vice versa.
Right, mostly. Maybe entirely.
My notion was that a noun-root was already a noun before any inflection or derivation was applied to it; it could appear “in its surface form” or “at spell-out”, assuming I’m using either of those terms correctly, as a noun, as-is.
By that notion, some kind of derivational process could be applied to a noun-root and produce an adjective.
Gold—>golden or child—>childish or man—>manly, for instance.

Similarly I was thinking an adjective-root would already be an adjective without any inflection or derivation.
Verbs and nouns could be formed from an adjective-root, but they’d clearly be derived or inflected;
viz. red—>redden or red—>redness.

And there are examples too numerous to mention more than a small fraction of, of derivations or inflections applied to verbs, to produce nouns or adjectives. Infinitives, gerunds, participles (active and passive), gerundives, agent-nominalizations, place-nominaliztions, instrument-nominalizations, patient-nominalizations, time-nominalizations, action-or-event-nominalizations, etc.

Possibly my notions weren’t good enough to ask these questions about; and/or possibly yours are better. Or, possibly, they’re both good to ask about, but they make different questions and would result in different answers.

I assume eldin does not intend to rule out all languages where some noun roots are also (or are homophonous with) verb roots, etc - since that would probably be all languages. "Urge" in English is in this way both a noun root and a verb root (and arguably an adjective root); however, 'octopus' is just a noun root, and 'explode' is just a verb root.
I was not intending to rule out those particular languages, but I was intending to rule out those particular roots (at least for the question or questions for which that root would have caused confusion).
If most of a language’s adjective-roots are also noun-roots or homophonous with noun-roots; or most of its noun-roots are also adjective-roots or homophonous with adjective-roots; then that language is not one I intended to ask about in question 1.
Likewise if most of its verb-roots are also noun-roots or homophones with noun-roots, or most of its noun-roots are also verb-roots or homophones with verb-roots, I didn’t intend question 2 to be about that language.
And sim for adjectives and verbs and question 3.

Perhaps I should only exclude those languages where “most” could be changed to “all”, in the above exclusions?
Or instead, perhaps I should exclude only those for which the “or” after the comma could be changed to “and”? E.g. for question 2 exclude those for which both most noun-roots are verb-roots AND most verb-roots are noun-roots?

Also; the difference between how you think (or how you thought I thought) about noun-roots vs adjective-roots etc. is an important one for applying the above exclusions; it seems likely that different languages would be excluded under the notion I had but didn’t (until now) state, vs the notion you stated and I quoted.

[a bigger problem in English is that all nouns can be verbs and vice versa: it would be perfectly possible for people to start writing "she octopused through the narrow gap in the fence" or "our media research reveals 42% more significant explodes in the last quarter of activity". In this sense English could be argued to be a noncategorial language. However, I think it's still meaningful to talk of distinct noun and verb categories in English, because there are some words that are not used as verbs, and some that are not used as nouns, and if they come to be used in those ways it will not be wholly predictable what their semantics will be; thus I think in English it makes more sense to talk of noun and verb categories with unrestricted zero-derivation, rather than noncategorialness]

*by 'non-compound process', I mean a process to produce, say, a verb from a root that can NOT be broken down into, say, a noun-forming process and then a distinct noun-to-verb-deriving process.
Yeah. Zero-derivation might be a problem; I was just assuming that for languages for which zero-derivation is a recognized “thing”, linguisticians had some way to tell it was derivation, and not another use of the same word. (Another solution, sometimes adopted, is just to say that the two different parts-of-speech are two different words; they’re just homophones. I have no criteria for telling when that’s legit and when it’s cheating.)

'3' is absolutely NOT the case, at all. There are many languages with distinct but very small true adjective classes (many Austronesian languages, for a start)
I asked for “most such languages”. Not “all such languages”. Is it true of a significantly-large enough majority of languages for which the question makes sense, that it couldn’t just be chance that that’s the majority?

OTOH I’d very much like to hear about a few of those languages; and maybe hear what the class of true adjective-roots is for one (or a few? probably too much to ask for) such language(s).
I believe '2' isn't true either. AIUI, in many North American polysynthetic languages the translations of many English nouns are in fact analysable as inflected verbs, and distributionally indistinguishable from deranked verbs (so, to invent an example, verbal "it is slithering" where English has nominal "snake"; "I saw the snake" would then be translated by something that would be identical in form with the translation of "I saw the one that was slithering"). I can't guarantee that this is true, but it's what I believe I've heard. AIUI, these languages do indeed typically have a distinct noun class not analysable in this way, but this class is relatively small, and much smaller than the class of verbs
I specifically had in mind excluding some level of polysynthetic languages; I thought maybe polysynthetic IV, but I don’t have their level-numbers’ definitions memorized, so FAIK I also meant to exclude polysynthetic IIIs as well?
As I understand it some really really polysynthetic languages might not have noun-roots; they have noun-morphemes but these are never independent morphemes nor even root-morphemes. I could be wrong; and even if I’m right they may be a minority.
But anyway I meant to exclude them from questions 1 and 2.
And of course, if 2 is untrue, then 1 must be untrue also, if some of these languages fail to distinguish verb and adjective classes, which I suspect they do...
To the best of my knowledge, if question 2 fails to make sense for some language, then questions 1 and 3 also don’t make sense for that language. AIUI if a language doesn’t distinguish between noun-roots and verb-roots, it can’t (or at least doesn’t) distinguish between noun-roots and adjective-roots, nor between verb-roots and adjective-roots.

There are, as i inderstand it, languages which, in spite of distinguishing between nouns and verbs, don’t distinguish between noun-roots and verb-roots. I was asking question 2 about other languages; those that do distinguish between noun-roots and verb-roots.
There are, as I understand it, languages that distinguish between nouns and verbs, but neither distinguish between adjectives and nouns, nor between adjectives and verbs. Questions 1 and 3 are not about those languages.

You personally, @Salmoneus, may not have needed that clarified. Actually maybe nobody who has responded so far needed that clarified. But maybe a later responder will appreciate my clarifying my question.
“Ser and Sal wrote about 3Cons” wrote: ...
K-t-b and other roots in Arabic and other triconsonsntal-root languages have roots that never appear in surface utterances.
I think I once read that Akkadian construct-state nouns are an exception? Or at least some 3Cons does sometimes use a triconsonantal root without any vowel transfixed as binyan or wazan? (Did I spell either of those correctly?)
Anyway, if I define a noun-root as one that can be used as a noun in a surface utterance without any inflection or derivation, and a verb-root as one that can be used as a verb without an6 inflection or derivation, and so on, then such roots in such 3Cons natlangs wouldn’t be the roots I’m asking about; and, if the majority of the roots in such a language can’t be used in surface utterances without some kind of affixations or inflection or derivation, then that language probably isn’t one of the languages I’m asking about.
(I think Sal already got that but Ser hadn’t, at least not before Sal replied!)

I think a bigger obstruction might come from languages with verbnouns or masdars.
If I understand them!
In these languages, I take it, most or many verbs have a root that is a noun?

As for the Mandarin adverb-or-pronoun zi that Ser asked about, and the verb zi also asked about, I would bet that’s one example where they are clearly two different words that are just coincidentally homophones. Etymology would prove or disprove that. If anyone knows the etymology for the two meanings, they can tell us whether I’d win or lose that bet!

It’s a lot more difficult for me to just declare the “oneself” or “by oneself” meaning of zi to be a pronoun or an adverb. In this case my consciousness of my ignorance prevents me making a guess. (I’m also conscious of my ignorance concerning the “be or come from a location” meaning, but in that case I think my guess is probably right anyway, and don’t hesitate to state it, because I think my ignorance is irrelevant just this once!)
However I have not asked about adverb-roots and have not asked about pronoun-roots. If adverbs or pronouns are also adjectives or nouns, not necessarily respectively, then “zi” might be one of the roots I was talking about. But I don't know whether the majority of roots in Mandarin or other Chinese languages are so ambiguous? If they are then that (or those) language(s) are outside the scope of (at least one of) my question(s).

As for English’s “urge”, I think Salmoneus’s response says as much as I could say, except better.

..........

Obviously I hope for yet more answer, from either a brand-new responder or someone who has already responded.

I may need help improving the questions.
If anyone thinks they could provide such help I’ll welcome the attempt!

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eldin raigmore
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

And BTW I just noticed my questions aren’t quick questions anymore.
They should head up a new thread.
But it’s 5:57 AM here now and I haven’t had any sleep.
I’ll try to do that in several hours.
Edit: BTW I started a new thread
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7270&p=302077#p302077
about my which-part-of-speech-has-the-most-roots questions.
Last edited by eldin raigmore on 11 Jul 2020 20:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

BTW I started a new thread
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7270&p=302077#p302077
about my which-part-of-speech-has-the-most-roots questions.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

If I say “I believe in God”,
is “believe” an intransitive verb and “in God” a prepositional phrase that modifies it (thus acting adverbially),
or is “believe in” a separable two-word transitive verb and “God” its direct object?

Are both points of view valid?
Or are at least both points of view defended by reputable academic linguisticians?

If only one analysis is correct, how can we tell that it’s correct?
Edit: Four questions. First three have binary answers. Only the fourth one needs a longer answer.

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