Friday, January 13, 2012

Clitics, suffixes, and incorporateability

In much of the literature on Oto-Manguean languages, linguists discuss what are known, across different families, as the "personal enclitics." Yet, the evidence in favor of considering person marking to be clitic-like rather than affixal is always a bit spotty. I've been debating the status of person marking in Itunyoso Trique ever since I started studying it almost 8 years ago. This is the first time I'm making this debate manifest though, at least in writing. (Caveat: Please don't read this like you are peer-reviewing it. I am just putting some ideas down in my blog.)

A typical verb structure found in Oto-Manguean languages is shown in (1) and structure typical of nouns is shown in (2).


In Trique, the structure is a little different. It is shown in (3) and (4)


Itunyoso Trique Subject Enclitics
To give you a bit of a background, Trique has 9 tonal contrasts. There are four level tones (/1/ is low): /1/, /2/, /3/, /4/; two rising tones: /45/, /13/; and three falling tones: /43/, /32/, /31/. Syllable structure is simple, with no codas but two laryngeal codas, /h/ and /ʔ/. The two rising tones only appear in syllables with a coda /h/. No contour tones occur before a coda /ʔ/.

Regular alienably-possessed nouns are marked with either a genitive prefix /si3-/. Inalienably-possessed nouns never take a genitive prefix. Consider the paradigm shown below in (5).

(5) ka3siʔ3 'honey' | si3-ka3sih5 'my honey' | si3-ka3siʔ3-reʔ1 'your honey' | si3-ka3siʔ3-sih3 'his honey'

Note that the /h/ of the 1.SG replaces the glottal stop on the stem and causes tone raising. The morph of the first person singular is not /h/ though. Rather, if a stem does not contain a coda /h/, one is added. If a stem does  contain a coda /h/, it is deleted. Consider the paradigm in (6). The 2.SG and 3.SG person markers are less remarkable for our purposes here.

(6) tʃa3kih3 'ear' | tʃa3ki43 'my ear' | tʃa3kih4-reʔ1 'your ear' | tʃa3kih3-sih3 'his ear'

This toggling process is completely regular on all Itunyoso Trique words. I am not putting more examples here, but you can read my morphophonology squib for plenty of cases. There are a number of tonal alternations involved with the 1.SG toggle, far far too many to discuss here, but again, you are welcome to read about them in my morphophonology squib. I am just providing this information as background.

Generally speaking, linguists have said that person markers like these are enclitics. The argument is, as per Zwicky & Pullum (1983), that these enclitics are not picky as to the part of speech of their host. Thus, observe the following words with personal enclitics in Trique.

(7) ni3ʔi3-sih3 know-3sg, 'he knows'
(8) si3-ka2-sih3 GEN-corn.tassle-3sg, 'his corn tassle'
(9) ru3ku3-sih3 behind-3sg, 'behind him' / 'his back'
(10) ŋga1-sih3 and/with-3sg, 'with him / and him'

In (7), we observe the clitic on a verb. In (8) and (9), it attaches to a noun and a relational noun, respectively. In (10), the clitic attaches onto a conjunction, or what we might call a simple comitative particle. The stem in (10) is not a relational noun and has no other interpretation. Considering the different parts of speech in Trique, person markers are not very selective as to their host. Generally speaking, this is the main criterion for "clitic-hood" that people consider.

Hollenbach (1984) in her dissertation on Copala Trique, also notes that clitics apply freely to adverbs immediately following verbs. So, a structure like VERB-ADVERB-PERSON is possible in Trique. One might not expect such a structure to occur if person marking were suffixal. Generally speaking, additional stems do not usually intervene between a stem and an affix. Observe this pattern in (11), below (from Itunyoso Trique):

(a.) ka3-tʃi4nih4 PERF-get.drunk.1sg, 'I got drunk.'
(b.) ka3-tʃi4ni43-yũh35 PERF-get.drunk-again.1sg, 'I got drunk again.'

In (11a), the first person is marked with a coda /h/ on the verb root. Yet, once the adverb /yũ4/ 'again' is included, person marking applies to this word. Examples like these convince Hollenbach that person marking is a clitic in Trique.

This evidence has never struck me as very strong. First of all, several clitics condition substantial tonal allomorphy on stems. Second, one of the exponents of the 1.SG clitic is the deletion of stem material (half of the "toggle"). These strong phonological patterns are more typical of affixes than clitics. Though, as far as I know, phonological evidence doesn't play a role in decisions of "clitic-hood."

Turning to syntactic criteria, there is other evidence that person marking may be suffixal. While Hollenbach makes a blanket statement that person marking may apply to adverbs, she doesn't specify which ones. As it turns out, they are rather restricted. Observe the data in (12)-(13).

(a.) ko3ʔo32-sih3 drink-3sg, 'He drinks'

(b.) ko3ʔo32 ni2ʔrua32-sih3 drink much-3sg, 'He drinks a lot'

(a.) a3kĩh35-sih3-yũh2 call-3sg-1sg, 'He calls me'
(b.) a3kĩh35 ni2na2-sih3-yũh2 call always-3sg-1sg, 'He always calls me'

The words 'much' and 'always' are the only other two adverbs that may precede person marking. The word 'slow' is ungrammatical in a similar construction, shown in (14).


(a.) ka3-tʃi4nih4 na2nah2 PERF-get.drunk.1sg slowly, 'I got drunk slowly.'
*(b.) ka3-tʃi4ni43 na2na2 PERF-get.drunk slowly.1sg, 'I got drunk slowly.'

It strikes me as odd that the only adverbs that are permitted to precede person marking are words for 'again', 'always', and 'a lot.' These each seem eerily similar to verbal aspect markers (frequentative, intensificational, etc.). So, perhaps the adverbial restriction that Hollenbach discussed is not a very convincing argument. Yet, if person marking is actually suffixal, then these words would be examples of incorporated adverbials. I don't know if this analysis is equally wrought with problems.

There are some other data that are relevant here too, involving verb concatenation, but that will wait until tomorrow. Any thoughts so far?