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Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

Structural analogy in language and its limits [Contrast and analogy v.2]

John Anderson 50 resent

John Anderson 50 resent some kind of ‘historic present’; habitual is the unmarked interpretation. In Greek non-pasts, nothing is specified and habitual, perfective and progressive interpretations depend on context, though the former two, the imperfectives, are unmarked, with the perfective again being limited to very specific environments (see e.g. Anderson 2001c: §3.2). 29 These aspectual asymmetries thus illustrate polysystemicity in these language systems. For instance, as we have seen, the Greek simple non-past, unlike the past, does not show a formal contrast between imperfective and perfective in unmarked declarative sentences, and its range of interpretations (habitual/progressive/perfective) is greater than those of the (past) imperfect, which cannot normally be interpreted perfectively. This is analogous to what we often find with vowel systems, where different subsystems of contrast are associated with different contexts. In particular, under low stress or in nasal environments the system may be much reduced compared with the ‘major’ system. We can illustrate this again from Old English. Anderson (forthcoming) observes that in the pre-umlaut short vowel system there are contrasts before nasals only among three vowels, {i}, {u} and {a} – whatever variation there may have been in the realisation of these vowels. This is illustrated by the paradigm for the strong verb bindan ‘bind’: Ist and IIIrd singular preterite indicative band, second participle bunden. We have the basic triangular system of (113) (Lass & Anderson 1975: ch.II, §5, Anderson 1988d: §§2-3): (113) {i} bindan {u} bunden {a} band Moreover, there are difficulties in straightforwardly identifying these with members of the ‘major’ system – at least in the case of the vowel I have represented ‘{a}’. Early spellings of the umlaut of this vowel show æ, as we might expect, in forms with historical /a/ + nasal associated with an i-umlaut environment such as those in (114.a) and these persist in some texts, overwhelmingly the umlauted form of this etymological class is spelled e, as in (114.b): (114) a. aenid ‘duck’, cændæ ‘he begot’ b. ened ‘duck’, fremman ‘do/perform’ Æ represents the normal umlaut of /a/; e, however, if it reflects simply the effects of umlaut, suggests a reinterpretation of /a/ as /o/, i.e. {u,a}. This would not be an unnatural reinterpretation, given the emphasis on the lower end of the spectrum (gravity) projected by nasals; in this context the vowel may indeed have been nasalised. However, for the most part, this vowel does not fall together with ‘major’-system /o/, to judge from subsequent developments. The exponence of the pre-nasal vowel was probably distinct in quality from both the {u,a} and the {a} of the ‘major’ system (cf. e.g. Hogg 1992: §5.8). The ambivalence suggested by the persistent alternation between a and o spellings, exemplified in (115), may reflect possibly co-existing alternative interpretations of the specification of the vowel or attempts to recognise the realisational distinctiveness of the pre-nasal vowel: (115) nama/noma ‘name’, mann/monn ‘man’ The pre-nasal system may not be a simple subset of the ‘major’ one. However that may be, polysystemicity seems to be a characteristic of both phonology and syntax. In the phonology its prevalence has once again been obscured by (explicit

51 Structural analogy in language, and its limits or implicit) adoption of the principles of ‘phoneme theory’, with its typical insistence on monosystemicity. Anderson (forthcoming) argues that the prevalence of monosystemic viewpoints in historical phonology (encouraged by much of the evidence for earlier stages of languages being recorded in alphabetic writing-systems, which tend to be monosystemic) has distorted the kinds of reconstructions that have been attributed to these earlier stages. 2.6 Grammaticalisation It is time that I turned from illustrating these various analogies to exemplifying the limits on analogy imposed by interfacing. Let us note finally here, however, a pervasive analogy I have neglected so far. Both syntax and phonology are subject to grammaticalisation, in the sense of the loosening of interface associations on the regularities in the respective domains. We should perhaps more correctly talk about ‘further grammaticalisation’: linguistic structure, though based on them, is not determined by the nature of the cognitive and perceptual domains that it relates and gives structure to, given the inter-interface, or internal, requirements of a communication system capable of expressing and signalling a complex message amid much noise. This is of course not to endorse the ‘strongly innate’ view of universal grammar argued against in Anderson (in press a): I assume that the requirements of the inter-interface link that is the domain of grammar are resolved by the application of general cognitive principles, and acquired on the basis of these. However that may be, given the diversity of ways in which the term ‘grammaticalisation’ has been used and the vagueness of attempts to characterise it (cf. e.g. Hopper & Traugott 1993: ch.1), it behoves me to spell out a little more what I have in mind here. Under grammaticalisation I include, for present purposes, two inter-related ways in which regularities can be relatively disassociated from the interface: firstly, a regularity can become intrinsically de-naturalised, in that the substantive basis (in phonetic exponence and semantico-pragmatic interpretation) is less transparent; secondly, a regularity may in addition be displaced from direct connexion with substance. Both of these may be illustrated from the subsequent history of i-umlaut in OE. The unrounding of the vowels of (104.a), spelled y, and (104.b), spelled oe, results in some de-naturalisation; the ‘results’ of i-umlaut are no longer a transparent outcome of ‘spreading’ of {i}: u is also suppressed relative to the vowels which are the historical sources of these umlaut vowels, and they collapse with other vowels spelled respectively i and e. De-naturalisation can be associated also with the loss of the extrasegmental {i} in many cases, as in most of the examples in (99). And this also results in displacement, in that synchronically i-umlaut is interpreted as morphophonological: it is no longer a general phonological regularity, but is a set of alternations triggered by various morphological factors. I list the alternations in (116): (116) a. {u} ~ {i} b. {u,a} ~ {i;a} c. {a;i} ~ {i;a} d. {a} ~ {a;i} e. {a} ~ {i;a} (116.a-d) are illustrated by the respective forms in (99); (116.e) occurs in a nasal environment, such as that in mann/menn, involving complications I have just gone into. We find similar denaturalisations in syntax. Thus, the ‘topic/focus’ marker of Tagalog illustrated in (i.b) in note 23, repeated here as (117), does not necessarily mark an element that is topical or in focus – as is implied by the scare quotes used here:

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