Arbeiten des Kölner Universalien-Projekts : akup
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, Universität zu Köln. Hrsg. der Reihe: H. Seiler
Year of publication
- English (27) (remove)
- Towards a typology of valency (1984)
- Grammatical relations, particularly the notions of transitivity, case marking, ergativity, passive and antipassive have been a favourite subject of typological research during the last decade, but surprisingly, the notion of valency has been of marginal interest in cross-linguistic studies, though the syntactic and semantic status of participants is, to a great extent, determined by the relational properties of the verb. Valency is the property of the verb which determines the obligatory and optional number of its participants, their morphosyntactic form, their semantic class membership (e.g. ± animate, ± human) ,and their semantic role (e.g. agent, patient, recipient). The valency inherently gives information on the nature of the semantic and syntactic relations that hold between the verb and its participants. If a verb is combined with more participants than allowed or less than required, or if the participants do not show the required morphosyntactic form or class membership, the clause is ungrammatical. In other words, it is not sufficient to consider only the number of actants as a matter of valency, but it is only acceptable if all semantic and morphosyntactic properties of the relation between a verb and its participants that are predictable from the verb are included. The predictability of these properties results from their inherent givenness, and it does not seem reasonable to count some inherently given relational properties as a matter of valency, but not others (compare Helbig (1971:38f) and Heidolph et ale (1981:479) who distinguish between the quantitative, syntactic and semantic aspect of valency).
- Local prepositions and serial verb constructions in Thai (1984)
- The present paper is an attempt to describe a particular semantic domain in Thai, that of local relations, in terms of a gradual interconnection of what traditional descriptions usually regard as distinct and isolated categories. It is based on the well-known observation that isolating languages like Thai typically display a high degree of 'multifunctionality', or else of syntactic 'versatility' of very many lexical items. […] The semantic area studied in the following pages yields a clear systematic interconnection of three different categories, viz. that of nouns – as the focal instance of maximum syntactic independence –, that of verbs – as, conversely, the focal instance of maximally relational concepts –, and, as an intermediary category between these two, that of prepositions which the system lexically feeds from both these opposite ends. The examples given in the course of this paper have been obtained from published grammatical literature, from Thai texts, and from informants.
- Adnominal and predicative possessive constructions in Melanesian languages (1983)
- According to the present state of research, there seems to be no language which shows possessive classifiers and possessive verbs corresponding to English "to have" at the same time. In classifier languages predicative possession is expressed by verbless clauses, i.e. by existential clauses ("there is my possessed item"), equative clauses ("the possessed item is mine" "that is my possessed item") or by locative expressions ("the possessed item is near me"), in which the classifier in the case of non-inherent possession marks the nature of the relationship. While most Melanesian languages, as for instance Fijian, Lenakel, Pala and Tolai are classifier languages, Nguna, a Melanesian language spoken in Vanuatu, only shows traces of the Melanesian possessive classifier system, but, in contrast to the other Melanesian languages, it has a possessive verb, namely 'peani' "to have". In order to show how the Nguna possessive constructions deviate from the common Melanesian type, we shall start with a brief description of the Melanesian possessive constructions in general, and that of Fijian in particular.
- Patterns of grammaticalization in African languages (1982)
- The approach outlined in the present paper is based on observations made with African languages. Although the 1000-odd African languages display a remarkable extent of structural variation, there are certain structures that do not seem to occur in Africa. Thus, to our knowledge, an African language having anything that could be called an ergative case or a numeral classifier system has not been discovered so far. It may turn out that our approach can, in a modified form, be made applicable to languages outside Africa. This , however, is a possibility that has not been considered here. The present approach is based essentially on diachronic findings in that it uses observations on language evolution in order to account for structural differences between languages. Thus, it has double potential: apart from describing and explaining typological diversity it can also be material to reconstructing language history.
- Twentv-four questions on linguistic typology and a collection of answers (1982)
- At the end of last year, I designed an inquiry about the present state of linguistic typology in the form of a questionnaire. It was an attempt to cover the whole field by formulating the questions which seemed most relevant to it. This questionnaire is reproduced, without modifications, following this preface. In the first days of this year, it was sent to 33 linguists who I know are working in the field. The purpose was to form, on the basis of responses received, a picture of convergences and divergences among trends of present-day linguistic typology. The idea was also to get an objective basis for my report on "The present state of linguistic typology", to be delivered at the XIII. International Congress of Linguistics at Tokyo, 1982.
- Possessive constructions in Tolai (1982)
- Possessive constructions are grammatical constructions which contain two nominals and express that the referent of one of these nominals belongs to the other. The kind of relationship denoted by possessive constructions is not only that of ownership (1), as the term "possessive" might suggest, but also that of kinship (2), bodypart relationship (3), part/whole relationship (4) and similar relationships [...]. The following investigation will start with possessive constructions on phrase level, i.e. possessive phrases, and then deal with possessive constructions on clause level.
- Possessivity, subject and object (1982)
- The basic question is whether POSSESSOR and POSSESSUM are on the same level as the roles of VALENCE, two additional roles as it were. My research on POSSESSION has shown (Seiler 1981:7 ff.) that this is not the case, that there is a difference in principle between POSSESSION and VALENCE. However, there are multiple interactions between the two domains, and these interactions shall constitute the object of the following inquiry. It is hoped that this will contribute to a better understanding both of POSSESSION and of VALENCE.
- Posession as an operational dimension of language (1981)
- In this study I want to show, above all, that the linguistic expression of POSSESSION is not a given but represents a problem to be solved by the human mind. We must recognize from the outset that linguistic POSSESSION presupposes conceptual or notional POSSESSION, and I shall say more about the latter in Chapter 3. Certain varieties of linguistic structures in the particular languages are united by the fact that they serve the common purpose of expressing notional POS SESSION. But this cannot be their sole common denominator. How would we otherwise be able to recognize, to understand, to learn and to translate a particular linguistic structure as representing POSSESSION? There must be a properly linguistic common denominator, an invariant, that makes this possible. The invariant must be present both within a particular language and in cross-language comparison. What is the nature of such an invariant? As I intend to show, it consists in operational programs and functional principles corresponding to the purpose of expressing notional POSSESSION. The structures of possessivity which we find in the languages of the world represent the traces of these operations, and from the traces it becomes possible to reconstruct stepwise the operations and functions.
- Two types of Cahuilla kinship expressions : inherent and establishing (1980)
- In my Cahuilla Grammar (Seiler 1977:276-282) and in a subsequent paper (Seiler 1980:229-236) I have drawn attention to the fact that many kin terms in this language, especially those that have a corresponding reciprocal term in the ascending direction – like niece or nephew in relation to aunt – occur in two expressions of quite different morphological shape. The following remarks are intended to furnish an explanation of this apparent duplicity.
- Nominalization and lexicalization in modern Newari (1977)
- One of the striking features in modern Newari noun phrases is the wide usage of a set of affixes found in combination with the various elements that may expand a noun into an endocentric construction. At first sight such affixation would appear as a linking device by which the subordinate constituents of a noun phrase are tied to their head noun. Closer investigation, however, reveals a more complex picture which I have attempted to outline in the following paragraphs. The results of this inspection lead to the conclusion that the pattern of affixation displayed in Newari mirrors the close interaction of two converse functional principles: both the syntagmatic function of nominal determination on the one hand and a paradigmatic function – the formation of certain types of lexicalized expressions in Newari – formally tie in with each other by the application of one common technique.