Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

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MoonRightRomantic
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Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by MoonRightRomantic » 08 Aug 2016 18:22

Are there any conlangs or natlangs that indicate part of speech through attached morphemes rather than intrinsic to a word itself? I know many languages may use morphemes to change the part of speech but is there any language where parts of speech are indicated solely by attached morphemes?

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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by Micamo » 08 Aug 2016 19:05

Conlangs: Probably, though I've never seen it specifically. Probably in some engelang somewhere.

Natlangs: No. Closest you get are the obligatory gender-number affixes you see in families like Iroquoian and Bantu, but they aren't what you want for 2 reasons.

1. The affixes aren't used exclusively to mark a morpheme as being a noun of that gender/number, they're also put on adjectives, verbs, and prepositions as part of agreement.

2. There's no equivalent obligatory verb-marking or adjective-marking affixes.
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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by Frislander » 08 Aug 2016 19:16

Micamo wrote:Conlangs: Probably, though I've never seen it specifically. Probably in some engelang somewhere.

Natlangs: No. Closest you get are the obligatory gender-number affixes you see in families like Iroquoian and Bantu, but they aren't what you want for 2 reasons.

1. The affixes aren't used exclusively to mark a morpheme as being a noun of that gender/number, they're also put on adjectives, verbs, and prepositions as part of agreement.

2. There's no equivalent obligatory verb-marking or adjective-marking affixes.
Mostly true, however there are one or two things which possibly do a similar thing in natlangs, e.g. in the languages of the Pacific-Northwest-Coast nouns take determiners when used in a sentence while verbs don't. (this probably has something to do with the fact that the noun-verb boundary is very thin in those language: putting a determiner in front of a "verb" makes it a nominal, and omitting a determiner and placing morphology characteristic of verbs on a "noun" makes it a "verb"/predicate).

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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by k1234567890y » 08 Aug 2016 19:30

A conlang that does so is Esperanto, Esperanto relies heavily on the endings of words to determine the parts of speech.
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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by kiwikami » 08 Aug 2016 19:31

As far as conlangs go, doesn't Esperanto basically do this? Obligatory suffixes indicating POS?
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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by clawgrip » 12 Aug 2016 11:23

I would say yes to some extent. Lots of languages have obligatory affixes for words of various parts of speech, like verb suffixes, noun class prefixes, etc., although they can be conjugated/declined away, so it's not exactly what you're talking about.

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Re: Indicating a word's part of speech through morphemes?

Post by Creyeditor » 12 Aug 2016 12:14

Actually clawgrip's statement reminded me of a different perspective on POS-marking. We tend to assume a minimal amount of information for morphemes. This is not necessarily the only possible solution. In many natlangs, case affixes can only occur on nouns. We could assume that this information can be recovered by a speaker, such that it is part of the information conveyed by the morpheme. The same can be true for verbal affixes, since tense marking for example is almost exclusively found on verbs. In many languages though, stems can occur in isolation. These are unmarked for POS. Other languages however do not allow for stems to occur in isolations. If we follow the maximal information approach, we could say that in those languages words are obligatorily marked for POS by a class of affixes.
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