Update: 2015-12-18 06:20 AM -0500


Words and their meanings in human languages


collection by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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Contents of this page

From Burmese to Georgian
Human communication
Word : {waad}
  Content word
  Function word
Concordance : principal words in body of works such as the Bible
  Desinence or suffix used as an inflection
Lexeme vs. morpheme vs. phonemes
 : the three ESL devils for Burmese-speakers

UKT notes
Concordance: Cruden's
devoicing (medial formation)
KWIC : acronym Key Word In Context
lemma (head word)
Linguistics of sign
Panini पाणिनि «pāṇini» {pa-Ni.ni.}
root and suffix
Sabda-brahman {þûb~da. brah~ma}
synthetic language (inflectional)
word stem
Yaska यास्क (= य ा स ् क) «yāska»: {yaaþ~ka.}

Noteworthy passages in this file: (always check with the original section from which they are taken.)
Semantics is the study of meaning.
Dictionaries define the specific meanings of content words [e.g. nouns, verbs], but can only describe the general usages of function words. By contrast, grammars describe the use of function words in detail, but treat [content] lexical words [e.g. articles, pronouns] in general terms only.
Stems may be roots, e.g. <run>, or they may be morphologically complex, as in compound words (cf. the compound nouns meat ball or bottle opener) or words with derivational morphemes (cf. the derived verbs black-en or standard-ize).
• The exact use of the word 'stem' depends on the morphology of the language is question.

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From Burmese to Georgian

- UKT 151215

I keep myself reminded that Bur-Myan - but not Pali-Myan - is almost devoid of inflections found in Eng-Lat and Skt-Dev, because of which attempts to analyze the Bur-Myan language through the traditional use of inflections has failed.

Now I have a question: What was Magadhi-Asokan like?

UKT 151215: The script on the Asoka inscriptions is now known as "Brahmi". However since the {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} could not decipher it when called upon by their Muslim emperor to do so, they have no claim to it. I was looking for a suitable term when I came across the term "Asokan" in F. Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary,
- BHS-indx.htm (link chk 151215)

Let us not forget that Magadhi-Asokan was introduced into northern Myanmarpré, particularly to the Tagaung Kingdom, during the life-time of Gautama Buddha, and many centuries before, in the days of King Abhiraza. I am sure (but still a conjecture) the original Magadhi-Asokan was given a death blow when King Anawrahta persecuted the Bur-Myan speaking Arigyi because of their sexual misconduct introduced with Tantric Buddhism from Nalanda University, and introduced the Mon-Myan speaking monks from Thaton in southern Myanmarpré.

See Wikipedia for development of Tantric Buddhism at Nalanda University during the time of Pala Empire (8th c AD - 12th c AD).
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda 151215

UKT 151207: Though Bur-Myan is a phonetic language, few including those in Myanmar Language Commission (MLC) in Myanmarpré know that it is so. They think that Alphabet-Letter and Abugida-Akshara {ak~hka.ra} writing systems are the same. See
¤ - n. character, letter of an alphabet; alphabet - MLC MED2006-619

We should study our own language and its grammar by going back to the pre-colonial days and see what it was really like. See: ¤ Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis 1899 by A. W. Lonsdale, Rangoon: British Burma Press, 1899 xii, 461, in two parts.  Part 1. Orthoepy and orthography; Part 2. Accidence and syntax
- BurMyan-indx.htm > BG1899-indx.htm > BG1899-1-indx.htm > ch00.htm (links chk 151215)
The following are what A. W. Lonsdale has written:

" • The Burmese language is constructed on scientific principles, and there is no reason why its grammar should not be dealt with also from a scientific standpoint. But it may be safely said that Burmese grammar as a science has not received that attention it deserves.
" • With regard to the grammatical treatises by native writers, it is no exaggeration to say that there is not one which can be properly called a Burmese grammar. These writers, not content with merely borrowing the grammatical nomenclature of the Pali language, also attempted to assimilate the grammatical principles of the uninflected Burmese to those of the inflected Pali; so that they produced, not Burmese grammars, but modified Pali grammars in Burmese dress. The servile veneration in which they held Pali, the language they had adopted as the classic, is, no doubt, directly responsible for the composition of such works. In their endeavour to conform strictly to Pali methods, they often introduced unnecessary terms and misapplied them, ignoring those grammatical points in Burmese for which they could find no parallel in Pali. How futile their attempts were may be judged by the numerous difficulties and anomalies they created, from some of which even now teachers of the language have not quite extricated themselves - take, for instance, the case-inflexions."

The Letter is the basic-unit of the writing system known as the Alphabet. Letter is mute, i.e. non-pronounceable. It needs a vowel to turn it into a syllable.

On the other hand, the Akshara {ak~hka.ra} is the basic-unit of a different writing system now known as the Abugida. It is pronounceable by itself because it contains an inherent vowel. It is a syllable. Applying a Virama {a.þût} will kill the inherent vowel and turn it into a Letter.

An illustrative example of the difference can be found when we compare Georgian (alphabet) and Myanmar (abugida) scripts.

Myanmar to Georgian: {ta.} + viram {a.þût} --> თ (U+10D7, Georgian Letter Tan)
Georgian to Myanmar: თ (U+10D7, Georgian Letter Tan) + ა (U+10D0, Georgian Letter An) --> {ta.}

Note: ა (U+10D0, Georgian Letter An) is the inverse of (Myanmar viram sign), e.g.
  ა - the vowel giver
  - the vowel killer


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Human communication

-- UKT 090902, 151214

The problem of communicating among the various peoples who speak/(do not speak) and write/(sign) different languages has become very pressing in this age of rapid communication especially through electronic means. When a person communicates with another he uses a "language". Those who could not speak nor hear (deaf and dumb) use various sign languages which are not by any means simple sign signals. They are languages in their own rights with their own syntax and lexicon and there are many all over the world.

However, since my present task is the study of Pal-Myan and Skt-Dev through Bur-Myan and Engl-Latin, the problem of communicating in sign languages is beyond the scope of my study. But I intend to go into the subject of presenting the  message of the Buddha to Hearing-Speaking challenged (Deaf-Mutes) eventually. - sign.htm

syntax n. 1. a. The study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences. b. A publication, such as a book, that presents such rules. c. The pattern of formation of sentences or phrases in a language. d. Such a pattern in a particular sentence or discourse. 2. Computer Science The rules governing construction of a machine language. 3. A systematic, orderly arrangement. [French syntaxe from Late Latin syntaxis from Greek suntaxis from suntassein put in order sun- syn- tassein tag -- to arrange] -- AHTD

UKT: In terms of syntax, ASL (American Sign Language) shares more with spoken Japanese than it does with English. -- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_language 090902

lexicon n. pl. lexicons or lexica Abbr. lex. 1. A dictionary. 2. A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary: the lexicon of surrealist art. 3. Linguistics The morphemes of a language considered as a group. [Medieval Latin from Greek lexiHHon (biblion) word (book), from neuter of lexikos of words from lexis word from legein to speak; See leg- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

The problem of communicating using sound in a specific language depend on the pronunciation of the speaker and the ability of the listener to interpret the sound-words he has heard. However, when the written script is used, the pronunciation does not come in. Yet the speaker and the listener must have a common grammar and a common vocabulary for effective transfer of ideas.

The problem of understanding the sound-words has come before the time of the Buddha himself. And during his life time as recorded in the Cullavagga {su-La.wag~ga.}, V. 33. 1 of the Pali Canon. I have included this story in a different file, lang-probl.htm (link chk 151214), and the reader is advised to read the whole paper by Chi Hisen-lin, Journal of the Burma Research Society, XLIII, i, June 1960. The following is the very first part of that paper:

What language was used by primitive Buddhism? This is a problem yet unsolved among the learned circles. Based upon some new materials I [Chi Hisen-lin] wish to propose my [his] personal views concerning this problem. In the Cullavagga, V. 33. 1, there is narrated the following story:

"Now there were two Bhikkhus surnamed Yamelutekula, who were brothers born in a Brahman family. They had good voice and were expert in conversation. They came to the presence of the Blessed One, to whom they paid their homage and sat aside. After having taken their seat, the two Bhikkhus said to the Blessed One,

'Bhante, now the Bhikkhus with different family names and personal names, of different social ranks and families, have come to join the Order. With their own vernaculars they have marred the Buddha's words. Please permit us to express the Buddha's words in Sanskrit.'

"The Buddha reproached them, saying,

'You fools, how dare you say, "Please permit us to express the Buddha's words in Sanskrit!" Fools, by doing so you could neither induce those who did not have faith in the Buddha to have faith in him, nor could you enhance the faith of those who already had it in the Buddha. You could only help those who did not believe in the Buddha and change the mind of those who already believed in him.'

"After having reprimanded them, he preached the Dhamma for them, and then said to the Bhikkhus,

'Bhikkhus, you are not allowed to express the Buddha's words in Sanskrit. Those who act contrarily will be considered as having committed the offence of Dukkata {doak~ka.Ta.}.'  fn09-01

fn09-01. The Vinaya Pitakam, ed. by Hermann Olderberg, Vol. II, The Cullavagga, London, 1880, p. 139. fn09-01b

"And finally the Buddha said,

anujānāmi bhikkhave sakāya niruttiyā buddhavacanam pariyāpunitum

"A comparatively important problem of primitive Buddhism, the problem of language, is involved in this story. Buddhism during the period of its initiation may be considered, in many respects, as a sort of resistance or revolution against Brahmanism, the principal religion that occupied the position of predomination at the time. It was but natural that it should have opposed with determination the use of Sanskrit, the language of Brahmanism. [UKT 151208]

UKT 151214: It is my firm belief that Language as a means of communication between human individuals is religion-neutral. We should avoid using words like: "Sanskrit, the language of Brahmanism", and "Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism". Moreover, it is a known fact that speech is transitory, whereas script is more permanent. In order to specify what we mean by "Language", we should specify the script in which speech is written as: Burmese-Myanmar (Bur-Myan), English-Latin (Eng-Lat), Pali-Myanmar (Pal-Myan), and, Sanskrit-Devanagari (Skt-Dev). Thus my invention Romabama is Bur-Lat. It is not "Burglish". Moreover, Romabama stands for {ro:ma.ba.ma} the 'backbone of Bur-Myan'. If you follow this rule strictly you will see that Vedic (or Vedic-Asokan) is different from Sanskrit (or Skt-Dev). What the phonetician or grammarian Paṇini  पाणिनि  «pāṇini» {pa-Ni.ni.} was doing was to lay down rules for transcribing Vedic into Sanskrit. Yaska  यास्क (= य ा स ् क) «yāska» {yaaþ~ka.}, his predecessor, was the Vedic phonetician or grammarian. 

"In spite of the fact that during the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., the development of the Sanskrit language had reached its zenith, and if used, it would bring many advantages for the propagation of the Buddhist doctrines, but for the sake of carrying out his own ideas, the Buddha would not consider the use of that language and scolded the two Bhikkhus as "fools" Probably because they were the descendants of a Brahman family, these two Bhikkhus still had some old conceptions in their brains. That was why they made the proposal to the Buddha for the adoption of Sanskrit and incurred his rebuke.

UKT 090902, 151210 : It is well worth noting that the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. means periods during the Iron Age (1200 B.C. - 1 B.C.) in India and the life time of the prominent linguist Panini. He was a Brahman linguist (or grammarian), and he is said to have mentioned the works of others who preceded him centuries before.  It was Pāṇini who gave rules for transcribing Vedic - most probably a Tib-Myan language - into Classical Sanskrit - an IE language.

The Buddha must have known all about them, their religion (Hinduism) and their language (Sanskrit). The problem was Sanskrit and the notions of  Sabda-brahman {þûb~da. brah~ma} and Mahabrahma as the Creator were so intertwined that once Sanskrit was adopted as the language to propagate Buddhism, it would erode the very idea of Anatta {a.nût~ta.} 'Impermanence' the mainstay of Buddhism. To the Buddha, the essence of understanding - not the exact pronunciation of a word such as Om - is more important than the sound vibrations in the air. He would have known about the problem of conveying his message to the Hearing-Speaking challenged (Deaf-Mutes) through speech-sound. My question is that "Did he tried to preach to the Deaf-Mutes?". If he did, in what "Language"?

"If Sanskrit was not used, then what language did they use? For the propagation of religion, the "policy of language" was a comparatively important problem, which must be settled. The Buddha's last sentence in the above story was for the solution of this problem. [end JBRS p09]"

UKT 090807: Though the question of using Sanskrit to express Buddha's words should have been laid to rest with the above rule laid down by the Buddha, it is not so because the question resurfaced in our times around the meaning of the word of nirutti . So it is imperative to concentrate on Nirukta (and Nighaṇṭu), a work/works by Yāska (यास्कः {yaaþ~ka:}) in lang.htm , an ancient Sanskrit grammarian. Refer to Wikipedia articles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirukta 090806 and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedas 090807. At the present Nirukta has been identified with Etymology.

Nirukta {ni.roat~ti.} (PMDict-495)  nirutti  (Sk. nirukti ) (PTSDict-370) in Pali means:
- one of the Vedāngas, explanation of words, grammatical analysis, etymological interpretation, pronunciation, dialect, way of speaking, expression.

Nighaṇṭu {ni.GaN-Tu.} (PMDict-480) Nighaṇḍu [Sk. nighaṇṭu ...] an explained word or a word explanation, vocabulary, gloss, usually in ster. formula marking the accomplishments of a learned Brahmin ... -- PTSDict-355


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UKT151209: By the word "Word" {waad} we do not mean the Eternal Verbum (Eng-Lat); dei verbum (Roman-Latin); or śabda-brahman (Skt-Lat), which all mean "the Word of the Creator or the Brahma. Here we mean the word used by a human speaker/writer and a human hearer/reader.

That the "Word" is the "Word of the Creator or the Brahma" is the view held by Bhartṛhari. His philosophy of language is ultimately grounded in a monistic and idealistic metaphysical theory. He speaks of a  transcendental word-essence (śabdatattva) as the first principle of the universe. See
LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT - lang-thot-indx.htm (link chk 151218)
and proceed to Bhartṛhari's Syntax, Meaning, Sphoṭa - spho-bartri-matilal.htm
Such a view has been a hindrance to the progress of European Science in the Middle Ages. See Wikipedia:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_science_in_the_Middle_Ages 151218

UKT 090814, 151209: There are two main headings under which words are studied: Lexicology and Morphology. These two topics are presented in their own files: lexico.htm and morpho.htm respectively.
   Lexicology (from lexiko-, in the Late Greek lexikon) is that part of linguistics which studies words [singly (lexemes) or grouped (lexical items)], their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words (semantical relations), words groups and the whole lexicon.
   Morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of words. While words are generally accepted as being (with clitics) the smallest units of syntax, it is clear that in most (if not all) languages, words can be related to other words by rules.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word 090814

A word is the smallest free form (an item that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content) in a language, in contrast to a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning. A word may consist of only one morpheme (e.g. <cat>), but a single morpheme may not be able to exist as a free form (e.g. the English plural morpheme <-s>).

morpheme n. Linguistics 1. A meaningful linguistic unit consisting of a word, such as <man>, or a word element, such as <-ed> in <walked>, that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. [French morphème blend of Greek morphē form French phonème phoneme; See phoneme
polymorphemic (linguistics) 1. Comprising multiple morphemes.
Etymology: poly- + morpheme + -ic
-- http://www.allwords.com/word-polymorphemic.html 090814

UKT example:
¤ monomorphemic word, e.g. <cat>, <walk>
¤ polymorphemic word, e.g. <cats>, <walked>

Typically, a word will consist of a root , or stem, and zero or more affixes. [UKT ¶ ]

Words can be combined to create other units of language, such as phrases, clauses, and/or sentences. A word consisting of two or more stems joined together form a compound. A word combined with an already existing word or part of a word form a portmanteau.



Depending upon the language in question, it can be either easy or difficult to identify or decipher a word. Dictionaries take upon themselves the task of categorizing a language's lexicon into lemmas. These can be taken as an indication of what constitutes a "word" in the opinion of the authors.

Word boundaries

In spoken language, the distinction of individual words is usually given by rhythm or accent, but short words are often run together. See clitic for phonologically dependent words. For example, spoken French has some of the features of a polysynthetic language: il y est allé ("He went there"), pronounced [iljɛtale]. Since the majority of the world's languages are not written, the scientific determination of word boundaries becomes important.

There are five ways to determine where the word boundaries of spoken language should be placed:

1. Potential pause : A speaker is told to repeat a given sentence slowly, allowing for pauses. The speaker will tend to insert pauses at the word boundaries. However, this method is not foolproof: the speaker could easily break up polysyllabic words.

2. Indivisibility : A speaker is told to say a sentence out loud, and then is told to say the sentence again with extra words added to it. Thus, I have lived in this village for ten years might become My family and I have lived in this little village for about ten or so years. These extra words will tend to be added in the word boundaries of the original sentence. However, some languages have infixes, which are put inside a word. Similarly, some have separable affixes; in the German sentence "Ich komme gut zu Hause an," the verb ankommen is separated.

3. Minimal free forms : This concept was proposed by Leonard Bloomfield in 1926. Words are thought of as the smallest meaningful unit of speech that can stand by themselves. [1] This correlates phonemes (units of sound) to lexemes (units of meaning). However, some written words are not minimal free forms, as they make no sense by themselves (for example, the and of ). [2]

4. Phonetic boundaries : Some languages have particular rules of pronunciation that make it easy to spot where a word boundary should be. For example, in a language that regularly stresses the last syllable of a word, a word boundary is likely to fall after each stressed syllable. Another example can be seen in a language that has vowel harmony (like Turkish) [3]: the vowels within a given word share the same quality, so a word boundary is likely to occur whenever the vowel quality changes. Nevertheless, not all languages have such convenient phonetic rules, and even those that do present the occasional exceptions.

UKT: An interesting term above is vowel harmony (and consonant harmony). I have prepared a file on the topic in harmo.htm . I need to study more if Burmese has vowel harmony.

5. Semantic units : Much like the above mentioned minimal free forms, this method breaks down a sentence into its smallest semantic units [meaningful units]. However, language often contains words that have little semantic value (and often play a more grammatical role), or semantic units that are compound words.

A further criterion. Pragmatics.

As Plag suggests, the idea of a lexical item being considered a word should also adjust to pragmatic criteria. The word <hello>, for example, does not exist outside of the realm of greetings being difficult to assign a meaning out of it. This is a little more complex if we consider <how do you do?>: is it a word, a phrase, or an idiom? In practice, linguists apply a mixture of all these methods to determine the word boundaries of any given sentence. Even with the careful application of these methods, the exact definition of a word is often still very elusive.

There are some words that seem very general, but may truly have a technical definition, such as the word "soon," usually meaning within a week.

UKT: Continued in the another section as Orthography .

Contents of this page

Content word : lexical word
Lexemes and Lexical items
Lexical category or lexical class

Excerpt from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Function_word 090822

Words that are not function words are called content words (or lexical words): these include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and most adverbs, although some adverbs are function words (e.g., <then> and <why>). [UKT ¶ ]

Dictionaries define the specific meanings of content words, but can only describe the general usages of function words. By contrast, grammars describe the use of function words in detail, but treat lexical words in general terms only.

Excerpt Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_class 090804

In grammar, a lexical category (also word class, lexical class, or in traditional grammar part of speech) is a linguistic category of words (or more precisely lexical items), which is generally defined by the syntactic or morphological behaviour of the lexical item in question. Common linguistic categories include noun and verb, among others. There are open word classes, which constantly acquire new members, and closed word classes, which acquire new members infrequently if at all.

UKT 090830: In English, open word classes include the following parts of speech: nouns, main verbs (not auxiliary verbs), adjectives, adverbs, interjections.
-- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_class_word 090830
Whereas, closed word classes found in many languages are adpositions (prepositions and postpositions), determiners, conjunctions, and pronouns.
-- Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_class_word 090830.

Different languages may have different lexical categories, or they might associate different properties to the same one. For example, Japanese has as many as three classes of adjectives where English has one; Chinese, Korean and Japanese have measure words while European languages do not grammaticalize these units of measurement (a "pair of pants", a "grain of rice"); many languages don't have a distinction between adjectives and adverbs, adjectives and verbs (see stative verbs) or adjectives and nouns , etc. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 090826: Measure words in Burmese-Myanmar: {lu tic-yauk} 'one man', {hkwé: nhic-kaung} 'two dogs', {toat tic-hkyaung:} 'one stick' . Measure words are most often used when counting. Their use is analogous to English words that represent units or portions of mass nouns, for example <one drop of milk>, <ten grains of rice>, <fifty heads of cattle>, <three pieces of cake>.
-- based on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_word 090826

Many linguists argue that the formal distinctions between parts of speech must be made within the framework of a specific language or language family, and should not be carried over to other languages or language families.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_word 090822
Redirected from Content word.

Lexical items are single words or words that are grouped in a language's lexicon. Examples are:

Single words [or lexemes]: <cat>,
Grouped words: <traffic light>, <take care of>, <by-the-way>, and <don't count your chickens before they hatch>. [UKT ¶ ]

Lexical items are those which can be generally understood to convey a single meaning, much as a lexeme, but are not limited to single words. Lexical items are like semes in that they are "natural units" translating between languages, or in learning a new language. In this last sense, it is sometimes said that language consists of grammaticalized lexis, and not lexicalized grammar.

UKT: Seme, the smallest unit of meaning recognized in Semantics, refers to a single characteristic of a sememe. These characteristics are defined according to the differences between sememes. The term was introduced by Eric Buyssens in the 1930s and developed by Bernard Pottier in the 1960s. It is the result produced when determining the minimal elements of meaning, which enables one to describe words multilingually. Such elements provide a bridge to component analysis and the initial work of ontologies. -- From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seme 090826
   The idea of Seme should be compared with the Eastern idea of Sphoṭa (developed thousands of years ago): the term sphoṭa is derived from the Sanskrit root sphuṭ, which means to burst forth. In his Sanskrit-English Dictionary, V. S. Apte defines sphoṭa as : (1) breaking forth, bursting or disclosure; and (2) the idea which bursts out or flashes on the mind when a sound is uttered. See sphota2.htm in this series.

The entire store of lexical items in a language is called its lexis.

Lexical chunks

Lexical items composed of more than one word are also sometimes called gambits, lexical phrases, lexical units, lexicalized stems or speech formulae. The term polyword listemes is also sometimes used. Common types of lexical chunks include [1]:

• Words, e.g.,
  <cat>, <tree>.

• Phrasal verbs, such as
  <put off> or <get out>

• Polywords, e.g.,
  <by the way>, <inside out>.

Collocations, e.g.,
  <motor vehicle>, <absolutely convinced>.

UKT: Within the area of corpus linguistics, collocation is defined as a sequence of words or terms which coöccur more often than would be expected by chance.
   Collocation comprises the restrictions on how words can be used together, for example which prepositions are used with particular verbs, or which verbs and nouns are used together. Collocations are examples of lexical units. Collocations should not be confused with idioms.
   Collocation extraction is a task that extracts collocations automatically from a corpus, using computational linguistics. -- Excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collocation 090826

• Institutionalized utterances, e.g.,
  <I'll get it>, <We'll see>, <That'll do>, <If I were you>, <Would you like a cup of coffee?>

• Idioms, e.g.,
  <break a leg>, <was one whale of a>, <a bitter pill to swallow>.

• Sentence frames and heads, e.g.,
  <That is not as...as you think>, <The problem was>.

• Text frames, e.g.,
  <In this paper we explore...; Firstly...; Secondly...; Finally ...>.

An associated concept is that of noun-modifier semantic relations, wherein certain word pairings have a standard interpretation. For example, the phrase <cold virus> is generally understood to refer to the virus causes a cold, rather than a virus that is cold.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Function word

From Wikipedia:
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Function_word 090822
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Function_word 151215

The distinction between function/structure words and content/lexical words proposed by C.C. Fries in 1952 has been highly influential in the grammar used in L2 acquisition and English Language Teaching. [1] [UKT ¶]

Function words are words that have little lexical meaning or have ambiguous meaning, but instead serve to express grammatical relationships with other words within a sentence, or specify the attitude or mood of the speaker. They signal the structural relationships that words have to one another and are the glue that holds sentences together. Thus, they serve as important elements to the structures of sentences.[2]

Words that are not function words are called content words (or open class words or lexical words or autosemantic words): these include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and most adverbs, although some adverbs are function words (e.g., then and why). Dictionaries define the specific meanings of content words, but can only describe the general usages of function words. By contrast, grammars describe the use of function words in detail, but treat lexical words in general terms only.

Function words might be prepositions, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions, grammatical articles or particles, all of which belong to the group of closed-class words. Interjections are sometimes considered function words but they belong to the group of open-class words. Function words might or might not be inflected or might have affixes.

Function words belong to the closed class of words in grammar in that it is very uncommon to have new function words created in the course of speech, whereas in the open class of words (that is, nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs) new words may be added readily (such as slang words, technical terms, and adoptions and adaptations of foreign words). See neologism.

Each function word either gives some grammatical information on other words in a sentence or clause, and cannot be isolated from other words, or it may indicate the speaker's mental model as to what is being said.

Grammatical words, as a class, can have distinct phonological properties from content words. Grammatical words sometimes do not make full use of all the sounds in a language. For example, in some of the Khoisan languages, most content words begin with clicks, but very few function words do.[3] In English, very few words other than function words begin with voiced th-"[ð]"[citation needed] (see Pronunciation of English th); English function words may have less than three letters 'I', 'an', 'in' while non-function words usually have three or or more 'eye', 'Ann', 'inn' (see three letter rule).

The following is a list of the kind of words considered to be function words:




Function words (or grammatical words) are words that have little lexical meaning or have ambiguous meaning, but instead serve to express grammatical relationships with other words within a sentence, or specify the attitude or mood of the speaker. [UKT ¶ ]

Words that are not function words are called content words (or lexical words): these include nouns, verbs, adjectives, and most adverbs, although some adverbs are function words (e.g., <then> and <why>). Dictionaries define the specific meanings of content words, but can only describe the general usages of function words. By contrast, grammars describe the use of function words in detail, but treat lexical words in general terms only.

Function words might be prepositions, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions, grammatical articles or particles, all of which belong to the group of closed-class words. Interjections are sometimes considered function words but they belong to the group of open-class words. Function words might or might not be inflected or might have affixes.

Function words belong to the closed class of words in grammar in that it is very uncommon to have new function words created in the course of speech, whereas in the open class of words (that is, nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs) new words may be added readily (such as slang words, technical terms, and adoptions and adaptations of foreign words). See neologism.

Each function word either gives some grammatical information on other words in a sentence or clause, and cannot be isolated from other words, or it may indicate the speaker's mental model as to what is being said.

Grammatical words, as a class, can have distinct phonological properties from content words. Grammatical words sometimes do not make full use of all the sounds in a language. For example, in some of the Khoisan languages, most content words begin with clicks, but very few function words do. [1] In English, only function words begin with voiced th- [ð]  (see Pronunciation of English th).

The following is a list of the kind of words considered to be function words:

• articles
  — the and a. In highly inflected languages, the articles may take on the case of the declension of the following noun.

• pronouns
  — inflected in English, as hehim, sheher, etc.

• adpositions
  — uninflected in English

• conjunctions
  — uninflected in English

• auxiliary verbs
  — forming part of the conjugation (pattern of the tenses of main verbs), always inflected

• interjections
  — sometimes called "filled pauses", uninflected

• particles
  — convey the attitude of the speaker and are uninflected, as if, then, well, however, thus, etc.

• expletives
  — take the place of sentences, among other functions.

• pro-sentences
  — yes, okay, etc.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Concordance (publishing)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concordance 090901

A concordance is an alphabetical list of the principal words used in a book or body of work, with their immediate contexts. Because of the time and difficulty and expense involved in creating a concordance in the pre-computer era, only works of special importance, such as the Bible, Qur'an or the works of Shakespeare, had concordances prepared for them.

Even with the use of computers, producing a concordance (whether on paper or in a computer) may require much manual work, because they often include additional material, including commentary on, or definitions of, the indexed words, and topical cross-indexing that is not yet possible with computer-generated and computerized concordances.

However, when the text of a work is on a computer, a search function can carry out the basic task of a concordance, and is in some respects even more versatile than one on paper.

A bilingual concordance is a concordance based on aligned parallel text.

A topical concordance is a list of subjects that a book (usually The Bible) covers, with the immediate context of the coverage of those subjects. Unlike a traditional concordance, the indexed word does not have to appear in the verse. The most well known topical concordance is Nave's Topical Bible.

The first concordance, to the Vulgate Bible, was compiled by Hugh of St Cher (d.1262), who employed 500 monks to assist him. In 1448 Rabbi Mordecai Nathan completed a concordance to the Hebrew Bible. It took him ten years. 1599 saw a concordance to the Greek New Testament published by Henry Stephens and the Septuagint was done a couple of years later by Conrad Kircher in 1602. The first concordance to the English bible was published in 1550 by Mr Marbeck, according to Cruden it did not employ the verse numbers devised by Robert Stephens in 1545 but "the pretty large concordance" of Mr Cotton did. Then followed the notorious Cruden's Concordance and Strong's Concordance.

Use in Linguistics

Concordances are frequently used in linguistics, when studying a text. For example:

• comparing different usages of the same word
• analysing keywords
• analysing word frequencies
• finding and analysing phrases and idioms
• finding translations of subsentential elements, e.g. terminology, in bitexts and translation memories
• creating indexes and word lists (also useful for publishing)

Inverting a concordance

A famous use of a concordance involved the reconstruction of the text of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls from a concordance.

Access to some of the scrolls was governed by a "secrecy rule" that allowed only the original International Team or their designates to view the original materials. After the death of Roland de Vaux in 1971, his successors repeatedly refused to even allow the publication of photographs to other scholars. This restriction was circumvented by Martin Abegg in 1991, who used a computer to "invert" a concordance of the missing documents made in the 1950s which had come into the hands of scholars outside of the International Team, to obtain an approximate reconstruction of the original text of 17 of the documents. [1] [2]

This was soon followed by the release of the original text of the scrolls.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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UKT 151215: Orthography {sa-loän:paung: þût-poän} -- MEDict107

Contd. from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word 090814

[UKT: I have rewritten this paragraph.]
The languages we are dealing with -- Burmese, English, Pali and Sanskrit -- have long literary traditions, and there is interrelation between orthography and the question of what is considered a single word. Though word separators (typically white spaces) are common in modern orthography of these languages especially Eng-Latin, these are modern developments (see also history of writing). In older texts many phrases in Bur-Myan and Pali-Myan suffer from a dearth of white spaces separating words. Though this is not a problem for native Bur-Myan speakers speaking or writing Burmese, it is a very genuine problem for new comers for speaking and writing Pali-Myan because it is a dead language.

[UKT: I have rewritten this paragraph.]
In English-Latin orthography, words may contain spaces if they are compounds or proper nouns such as <ice cream> or <air raid shelter>. The problem becomes real when we try to write (transcribe) English in Myanmar script. The same is true for writing Burmese in Latin (as in Romabama).

[UKT: I have rewritten this paragraph.]
In correlating Pali-Latin (common referred to as "Pali in English") and Pali-Myan the problem becomes unnecessarily complex because the [c] in Pali-Latin is the {sa.} in Pali-Myan and च [c] in Skt-Dev. Added to this problem, is the problem of allophones in the English. Perhaps the greatest problem is to point out that Burmese and English have the so-called thibilant pronunciation (/θ/) which is unfamiliar to the speakers of the majority of European speakers such as the the French and Germans, and Hindi and Sanskrit speakers. Their languages use the sibilant pronunciation (/s/) in place of the thibilant.

Vietnamese orthography, although using the Latin alphabet, delimits monosyllabic morphemes, not words. Conversely, synthetic languages often combine many lexical morphemes into single words, making it difficult to boil them down to the traditional sense of words found more easily in analytic languages [UKT: see isolating language in my notes] ; this is especially difficult for polysynthetic languages, such as Inuktitut and Ubykh, where entire sentences may consist of single such words.

Logographic scripts use single signs (characters) to express a word. Most de facto existing scripts are however partly logographic, and combine logographic with phonetic signs. The most widespread logographic script in modern use is the Chinese script. While the Chinese script has some true logographs, the largest class of characters used in modern Chinese (some 90%) are so-called pictophonetic compounds (形声字, Xíngshēngzì). [4] Characters of this sort are composed of two parts: a pictograph, which suggests the general meaning of the character, and a phonetic part, which is derived from a character pronounced in the same way as the word the new character represents. In this sense, the character for most Chinese words consists of a determiner and a syllabogram, similar to the approach used by cuneiform script and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

There is a tendency informed by orthography to identify a single Chinese character as corresponding to a single word in the Chinese language, parallel to the tendency to identify the letters between two space marks as a single word in the English language. In both cases, this leads to the identification of compound members as individual words, while e.g. in German orthography, compound members are not separated by space marks, and the tendency is thus to identify the entire compound as a single word. Compare e.g. English capital city with German Hauptstadt and Chinese 首都 (lit. chief metropolis): all three are equivalent compounds, in the English case consisting of "two words" separated by a space mark, in the German case written as a "single word" without space mark, and in the Chinese case consisting of two logographic characters.

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Contd. from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word 090814
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffix 151215

In synthetic languages [inflectional languages], a single word stem (for example, <love>) may have a number of different forms (for example, <loves>, <loving>, and <loved>). However, these are not usually considered to be different words, but different forms of the same word. In these languages, words may be considered to be constructed from a number of morphemes. In Indo-European languages in particular, the morphemes distinguished are

• the root
• optional suffixes
• a desinence or suffix used as inflection

desinence (plural desinences)
- from: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/desinence 090814
  - A suffix used as an inflection
- from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desinence 151215
  - n. ¹. a termination or ending, as the final line of a verse. ². grammar , a termination, ending, or suffix of a word.

Thus, the Proto-Indo-European *wr̥dhom  would be analysed as consisting of

1 • *wr̥-, the zero grade of the root *wer-
2 • a root-extension *-dh- (diachronically a suffix), resulting in a complex root *wr̥dh-
3 • The thematic suffix  *-o-
4 • the neuter gender nominative or accusative singular desinence *-m.


Grammar classifies a language's lexicon into several groups of words. The basic bipartite division possible for virtually every natural language is that of nouns vs. verbs.

The oldest classification of a lexicon of a language was probably that of Yāska यास्कः  {yaaþ~ka.} (fl. 6th-5th centuries B.C.) who defines four main categories of words :
See lang.htm (broken link on 151215)
or alternately see ¤ Word formation - word-forma.htm (link chk 151215)

1. nāma {na-ma.} - nouns or substantives - UHS-PMDict0515
2. ākhyāta {a-hkya-ta.} - verbs - UHS-PMDict0153
3. upasarga - {U.pa.tha-ra.} - pre-verbs or prefixes - UHS-PMDict0233

4. nipāta {ni.pa-ta.} - particles, invariant words (perhaps prepositions) - UHS-PMDict0529
  UHS-BEPD0406, PMDict-486, PTS-360.

The classification into such classes is in the tradition of Dionysius Thrax (fl. 100 B.C. -- AHTD), who distinguished eight categories:

noun, verb, adjective, pronoun, preposition, adverb, conjunction and interjection.

In Indian grammatical tradition, Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} introduced a similar fundamental classification into a nominal «nāma» {na-ma.}- suP , and a verbal «ākhyāta» {a-hkya-ta.}- tiN class, based on the set of desinences taken by the word.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Lexeme vs. morpheme vs. phoneme :
the three ESL devils for Bur-Myan speakers

UKT 090912, 151207:

There are three linguistic terms most confusing for a Bur-Myan native speaker learning ESL:

• lexeme
• morpheme, and
• phoneme

The IPA transcriptions and Bur-Myan equivalents below are mine. I have used the "narrow transcription" with /.../ instead of [...] to avoid confusion. It should be noted that the idea of a double consonant <tt> is unacceptable since <batter> is a disyllabic word and written as /ˡbæt|.əʳ/. A more illustrative word is

<success> /sək'ses/ ≅ {hsaak~hsakS}

See my discussion Pronouncing the double C dated 080309, in: http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t9999.htm 151207

First, the definitions of these and their "children" from AHTD:

lex·eme n. 1. The fundamental unit of the lexicon of a language. <Find>, <found>, and <finding> are members of the English lexeme <find>. [ lex(icon) -eme ]

mor·pheme n. Linguistics 1. A meaningful linguistic unit consisting of a word, such as <man>, or a word element, such as <-ed> in <walked>, that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. [French morphème blend of Greek morphē form French phonème phoneme; See phoneme ]
UKT note:

¤ al·lo·morph ² n. 1. Any of the variant forms of a morpheme. For example, the phonetic /s/ of <cats> /kæts/, /z/ of <dogs> /dɒgz (US) dɔːgz/, and /ɪz/ of <horses> /hɔːsɪz/ and the /en/ of <oxen> /ˡɒk.sən (US) ˡɒːk-/ are allomorphs of the English plural morpheme. -- AHTD

pho·neme n. Linguistics 1. The smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning, as the <m> of <mat> and the <b> of <bat> in English. [French phonème from Greek phōnēma phōnēmat -- utterance, sound produced from phōnein to produce a sound from phōnē sound, voice; See bh ā- ² in Indo-European Roots.]

¤ al·lo·phone n. Linguistics 1. A predictable phonetic variant of a phoneme. For example, the aspirated /tʰ/ of <top> /tʰɒp (US) tʰɑːp/, the unaspirated /t/ of <stop> /stɒp (US) stɑːp/, and the <tt> [?] (pronounced d ) of <batter> /ˡbæt|.əʳ/ are allophones of the English phoneme /t/. - AHTD

Now, we will take up, summarily, Lexeme, Morpheme, and Phoneme, one by one.



The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexeme 090730

A lexeme is an abstract unit of morphological analysis in linguistics, that roughly corresponds to a set of forms taken by a single word. For example, in the English language, <run>, <runs>, <ran> and <running> are forms of the same lexeme, conventionally written as <RUN> . A related concept is the lemma (or citation form), which is a particular form of a lexeme that is chosen by convention to represent a canonical form of a lexeme. Lemmas are used in dictionaries as the headwords, and other forms of a lexeme are often listed later in the entry if they are not common conjugations of that word.

UKT: A more comprehensive note is included in another file, Lexicology - lexico.htm
If you have been looking for a quick check, go back lexeme-note-b



The following by UKT based on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpheme 090731

In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest linguistic unit that has semantic meaning.

Morphemes are composed of
phonemes (the smallest linguistically distinctive sound units) in spoken languages 
graphemes (the smallest units of written language) in written languages

The concept morpheme differs from the concept word, as many morphemes cannot stand as words on their own. A morpheme is free if it can stand alone, or bound if it is used exclusively alongside a free morpheme. Its actual phonetic representation is the morph, with the different morphs representing the same morpheme being grouped as its allomorphs. e.g. the word "unbreakable" has three morphemes:

<un->, a bound morpheme - prefix
<break>, a free morpheme - [UKT: root]
<-able>, a bound morpheme - suffix
   Both <un-> and <-able> are affixes: <un-> is the prefix, and <-able> the suffix.

UKT: A more comprehensive note is included in another file, Morphology - morpho.htm
If you have been looking for a quick check, go back morpheme-note-b



From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoneme 090814

In human phonology, a phoneme (from the Greek: φώνημα, phōnēma, "a sound uttered") is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances.

UKT: A more comprehensive note is included in another file, Phonology - phono.htm
If you have been looking for a quick check, go back phoneme-note-b

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UKT notes

clitic (linguistic)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitic 090823

In linguistics, a clitic is a grammatically independent and phonologically dependent morpheme. [1] It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level. For example, the English possessive -'s is a clitic; in the phrase the girl next door’s cat, -’s is phonologically attached to the preceding word door while grammatically combined with the phrase the girl next door, the possessor.

UKT: At one time (when I was young: I'm now an old man in my mid seventies), we (in Myanmar and India) tend to use "the cat of my aunt" instead of "my aunt's cat". We were made fun of for that by the Westerners. Little do they know that fricative endings are very difficult for Burmese speakers to pronounce. -- UKT 090823

Clitics may belong to any grammatical category, though they are commonly pronouns, determiners, or adpositions. Note that spelling is not a good guide for identifying clitics, clitics may be spelled as independent words, bound affixes or separated by special characters (e.g. apostrophe).


A clitic that precedes its host is called a proclitic.

• English: an apple

A clitic that follows its host is called an enclitic.

• Latin: Senatus Populusque Romanus
lit. "Senate people-and Roman"
meaning: "The Roman Senate and people"

A mesoclitic appears between the stem of the host and other affixes.

• Portuguese: Ela levá-lo-ia.
lit. "She take-it-COND"
meaning: "She would take it."

A final type of clitic, the endoclitic, splits apart the root and is inserted between the two pieces. Endoclitics defy the Lexical Integrity Hypothesis (Lexicalist Hypothesis) and so were long claimed to be impossible, but evidence from the Udi language suggests that they do exist. [2] Endoclitics are also found in Pashto [language]. [3]. In addition to Udi and Pashto, endoclitics are reported to exist in Degema. [4]

Properties of clitics

Some clitics can be understood as elements undergoing a historical process of grammaticalization: [5]

lexical item → clitic → affix

According to this model, an autonomous lexical item in a particular context loses the properties of a fully independent word over time and acquires the properties of a morphological affix. At any intermediate stage of this evolutionary process, the element in question can be described as a "clitic". As a result, this term ends up being applied to a highly heterogeneous class of elements, presenting different combinations of word-like and affix-like properties.

One characteristic shared by many clitics is a lack of prosodic independence. A clitic attaches to an adjacent word, known as its host. Orthographic conventions treat clitics in different ways: Some are written as separate words, some are written as one word with their hosts, and some are attached to their hosts, but set off by punctuation (a hyphen or an apostrophe, for example).

Although the term "clitic" can be used descriptively to refer to any element whose grammatical status is somewhere in between a typical word and a typical affix, linguists have proposed various definitions of "clitic" as a technical term. One common approach is to treat clitics as words that are prosodically deficient: they cannot appear without a host, and they can only form an accentual unit in combination with their host. The term "postlexical clitic" is used for this narrower sense of the term.

Given this basic definition, further criteria are needed to establish a dividing line between postlexical clitics and morphological affixes, since both are characterized by a lack of prosodic autonomy. There is no natural, clear-cut boundary between the two categories (since from a historical point of view, a given form can move gradually from one to the other by morphologization). However, by identifying clusters of observable properties that are associated with core examples of clitics on the one hand, and core examples of affixes on the other, one can pick out a battery of tests that provide an empirical foundation for a clitic/affix distinction.

An affix syntactically and phonologically attaches to a base morpheme of a limited part of speech, such as a verb, to form a new word. A clitic syntactically functions above the word level, on the phrase or clause level, and attaches only phonetically to the first, last, or only word in the phrase or clause, whichever part of speech the word belongs to. [6] The results of applying these criteria sometimes reveal that elements that have traditionally been called "clitics" actually have the status of affixes (e.g. the Romance pronominal clitics discussed below).

Clitics do not always appear next to the word or phrase that they are associated with grammatically. They may be subject to global word order constraints that act on the entire sentence. Many languages, for example, obey " Wackernagel's Law", which requires clitics to appear in "second position", after the first syntactic phrase or the first stressed word in a clause:

• Czech: Kde se to stalo?
lit. "Where REFL that happened"
meaning: "Where did that happen?"

Several clitics appearing in the same position (sharing the same host) form a "clitic cluster". The relative order of clitics in a cluster is usually strictly fixed (just as affixes appear in a strict order within a single word):

• Czech: Nechtěli jsme vám ho dát.
lit. "NOT-wanted 1PL to-you it give"
meaning: "We didn't want to give it to you.")

• Polish: Ty widziałbyś go jutro.
lit. "you saw-COND-2sg him tomorrow"
meaning: "You would see him tomorrow."

Clitics in English

• The abbreviated forms of be :
¤ ’m in I’m
¤ ’re in you’re
¤ ’s in she’s

• The abbreviated forms of auxiliary verbs:
¤ ’ll in they’ll
¤ ’ve in they’ve

English proclitics include:

a ____ in a desk 
an ____ in an egg 
the ____ in the house

The contraction n’t as in couldn’t etc. has been shown to have the properties of an affix, rather than a syntactically independent clitic. [7] In English, clitics must be unstressed, but not as a full word cannot be unstressed.

• I have not done it yet.
• I’ve not done it yet.
• I haven’t done it yet.
• I’ven’t done it yet. (dialectal non-standard)

Stress also prevents cliticization as follows:

• I don’t know who she is. (*I don't know who she’s.)
• Have you done it? —Yes, I have. (*Yes, I’ve.)
• He’s not a fool. —He is a fool! (*He’s a fool!) cf. He’s not a genius, either.


Clitics in Romance languages

In the Romance languages, the articles and direct and indirect object personal pronoun forms are clitics. [UKT ¶ ]

In Spanish, for example:

las aguas [laˈsaɣwas] ("the waters")
lo atamos [loaˈtamos] ("it tied-1PL" = "we tied it")
melo [ˈdamelo] ("give me it")

According to most criteria, in fact, the pronominal clitics in most of the Romance languages have already developed into affixes. [8]

There is still some debate as to whether or not this change from clitic to affix has occurred with French subject pronouns. Subject pronouns, especially, are still considered clitics as they force a topicalized reading of a coindexed XP. [9]

Although mesoclisis is extremely formal in Brazilian Portuguese and tends to be circumscribed in lesser formal registers by avoiding synthetical future/conditional verb forms, European Portuguese still allows clitic object pronouns to surface as mesoclitics in colloquial situations: [10]

Ela levá-lo-ia ("She take-it-would" — " She would take it").
Eles dar-no-lo-ão ("They give-us-it-will" — "They will give it to us").

Further examples

In the Indo-European languages, some clitics can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European:

Example, *-kʷe is the original form of
  ¤ Sanskrit ,
    [UKT: rendering this akshara to Myanmar:
    Decimal - &#2330; --> Hexadecimal: U091A --> Devanagari letter Ca = Burmese-Myanmar {sa.}]
  ¤ Greek τε, and
  ¤ Latin -que.

• Latin: -que and, -ve or, -ne ( yes-no question)
• Greek: τε and, δέ but, γάρ for (in a logical argument), οὖν therefore
• Russian: ли (yes-no question), же (emphasis), то (emphasis), не "not" (proclitic), бы (subjunctive)
• Dutch: 't definite article of neuter nouns and third person singular neuter pronoun, 'k first person pronoun, je second person singular pronoun, ie third person masculin singular pronoun, ze third person plural pronoun
• Plautdietsch: "Deit'a't vondoag?": "Will he do it today?"
• Czech: special clitics: weak personal and reflexive pronouns (mu, "him"), certain auxiliary verbs (by, "would"), and various short particles and adverbs (tu, "here"; ale, "though"). "Nepodařilo by se mi mu to dát" "I would not succeed in giving it to him". In addition there are various simple clitics including short prepositions.

• Swedish: Definite articles are attached to the end of the nouns (enclitic), like in the other Scandinavian languages. Examples: "en pojke" "a boy", "pojken" "the boy", "pojkarna " "the boys"; "en flicka" "a girl", "flickan" "the girl"; "ett barn" "a child", "barnet" "the child"

• In Old Norse, the definite article is expressed in the enclitics "-inn" (masc.) eg. alfrinn "the elf" dvergrinn "the dwarf" and haukrinn "the hawk", "-in" (fem.) gjǫfin and "-it" (neut.) treit "the tree".

Examples of some non-Indo-European languages are shown below:

• Hungarian: the marker of indirect questions is -e: Nem tudja még, jön-e. "He doesn't know yet if he'll come." Is ("as well") and se ("not... either") also function as clitics: although written separately, they are pronounced together with the preceding word, without stress: Ő is jön. "He'll come too." Ő se jön. "He won't come, either."

• Japanese: all particles, such as the genitive postposition (no) and the topic marker (wa).

• Korean: The copula 이다 (ida) and the adjectival 하다 (hada), as well as some nominal and verbal particles (e.g. , neun).[11] However, alternative analysis suggests that the nominal particles do not function as clitics, but as phrasal affixes. [12]

• Luganda: -nga attached to a verb to form the progressive; -wo 'in' (also attached to a verb)

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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compound (linguistic)

Excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compound  090820

In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme (less precisely, a word) that consists of more than one stem. [UKT ¶ ]

Compounding or composition is the word-formation that creates compound lexemes (the other word-formation process being derivation). Compounding or Word-compounding refers to the faculty and device of language to form new words by combining or putting together old words. In other words, compound, compounding or word-compounding occurs when a person attaches two or more words together to make them one word. The meanings of the words interrelate in such a way that a new meaning comes out which is very different from the meanings of the words in isolation.

Colloquial or everyday examples of compounds are <fireman> and <hardware>. Someone who believes that nothing he does has a good result might be called a <never-go-well> person. We combine the words <never>, <go> and <well> to form an adjectival compound. This process of birth and death of words is going on all the time.

UKT: A more comprehensive note is included in another file, Word formation - word-forma.htm

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Concordance : Cruden's

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruden_concordance 090901

A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures, generally known as Cruden's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible (KJV) that was single handedly created by Alexander Cruden (1699-1770). It was first published in 1737 and has not been out of print since then.

Cruden's concordance was first published in 1737, one of the first copies being personally presented to Queen Caroline on November 3, 1737. Cruden began work on his concordance in 1735 whilst a bookseller in London. Cruden worked alone from 7am to 1am every day and completed the bulk of the work in less than a year. The proofreading and layout took a little longer. His brain was occupied with nothing else, so much so that he failed to notice the diminishing stock in his bookshop and the consequent lack of custom. "Was there ever, before or since the year 1737", writes his biographer Edith Olivier, " another enthusiast for whom it was no drudgery, but a sustained passion of delight, to creep conscientiously word by word through every chapter of the Bible, and that not once only, but again and again?".

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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devoicing : medial formation

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devoicing 090816

Devoicing is a phonological process whereby a consonant that is normally voiced becomes devoiced (i.e. unvoiced) due to the influence of a phonological element in its phonological environment.

UKT: We find this process as a part of "medial formation" in Burmese-Myanmar:
  voiced --> devoiced (usually described as "voiceless")
  (See Ladefoged http://www.phonetics.ucla.edu/vowels/chapter12/burmese.html 090815 )
¤ {ma.} --> {mya.} / {mwa.} / {mha.} - ( {ma.} is voiced: it is devoiced as medials shown on the right)
¤ {ba.} --> {bya.} / {bwa.} - ( {ba.} is voiced: it is devoiced as medials shown on the right)
¤ {pa.} --> {pya.} / {pwa.} - ( {pa.} is voiceless: medial formation has not effect)
   Medial formation also results in aspiration, and consonants that already are "aspirated" do not conjoin with {ha.} /h/ to form {ha.hto:}.

This process is different from the concept of a consonant being voiceless. The difference is that voiceless consonants are always voiceless, whereas a devoiced consonant is one that is usually voiced, but which becomes unvoiced under very specific circumstances.


In English, sonorants (/l r w j/) following aspirated fortis plosives (that is, /p t k/ in the onsets of stressed syllables unless preceded by /s/) are devoiced such as in <please>, <crack>, <twin>, and <pewter>. Ref. Roach, Peter (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 239-245  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation 090816

UKT: The sonorants referred to above are approximants. They are conjunct formers {ya.} {ra.} {la.} {wa.} in Burmese-Myanmar which form {ya.ping.}, {ra.ric}, {la.hswè:}, {wa.hswè:} medials. There is a fifth medial former {ha.} which forms the medial {ha.hto:}. See: Peter Ladefoged Vowels and Consonants http://www.phonetics.ucla.edu/vowels/chapter12/burmese.html 090815

¤ {nga:} 'fish' --> {ngha:} 'to borrow'
¤ {Ña} --> {Ñha}
¤ {na} --> {nha}
¤ {ma.} --> {mha.}

Examples in other languages

Another type of devoicing is final obstruent devoicing a systematic phonological process occurring in languages such as German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian, among others. In these languages, voiced obstruents in the syllable coda or at the end of a word become voiceless.

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Excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_Word_in_Context 090901

KWIC is an acronym for Key Word In Context, the most common format for concordance lines. The term KWIC was first coined by Hans Peter Luhn. [1]

A KWIC index is formed by sorting and aligning the words within an article title to allow each word (except the stop words) in titles to be searchable alphabetically in the index. It was a useful indexing method for technical manuals before computerized full text search became common. --

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lemma (Linguistics) or headword

UKT: First you should know what 'lexicon' is:

lexicon n. pl. lexicons or lexica Abbr. lex. 1. A dictionary. 2. A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary: the lexicon of surrealist art. 3. Linguistics The morphemes of a language considered as a group. [Medieval Latin from Greek lexikon (biblion) word(book), from neuter of lexikos of words from lexis word from legein to speak; See leg- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headword 090822

A headword, head word, lemma, or sometimes catchword is the word under which a set of related dictionary or encyclopaedia entries appears. The headword is used to locate the entry, and dictates its alphabetical position. Depending on the size and nature of the dictionary or encyclopedia, the entry may include alternative meanings of the word, its etymology and pronunciation, compound words or phrases that contain the headword, and encyclopedic information about the concepts represented by the word.

For example, the headword <bread> may contain the following (simplified) definitions:

  ¤ A common food made from the combination of flour, water and yeast
  ¤ Money (slang)
  ¤ To coat in breadcrumbs
to know which side your bread is buttered to know how to act in your own best interests.

The Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian contains around 500,000 headwords. The Oxford English Dictionary has around 300,000 headwords, while Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary has about 470,000. Both of these values are as claimed by the dictionary makers, and may not be using exactly the same definition of a headword. Also, the Oxford English Dictionary covers each word much more exhaustively than the Third New International.

The term 'lemma' comes from the practice in Greco-Roman antiquity of using the word to refer to the headwords of marginal glosses in scholia; for this reason, the Ancient Greek plural form is sometimes used, namely lemmata (Greek λῆμμα, pl. λήμματα).

UKT: End of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headword 090822

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemma 090725

In linguistics a lemma (plural lemmas or lemmata) has two distinct interpretations:

1. morphology / lexicography: the canonical form or citation form of a set of forms (headword); e.g., in English, <run>, <runs>, <ran> and <running> are forms of the same lexeme, with <run> as the lemma.

2. psycholinguistics: Abstract conceptual form that has been mentally selected for utterance in the early stages of speech production, but before any sounds are attached to it.

A lemma in morphology is the canonical form of a lexeme. Lexeme, in this context, refers to the set of all the forms that have the same meaning, and lemma refers to the particular form that is chosen by convention to represent the lexeme. In lexicography, this unit is usually also the citation form or headword by which it is indexed. Lemmas have special significance in highly inflected languages such as Czech. The process of determining the lemma for a given word is called lemmatisation.

In linguistics, lemmatisation is the process of grouping together the different inflected forms of a word so they can be analysed as a single item. -- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmatisation 090731

UKT: A more comprehensive note is included in another file, Lexicology - lexico.htm

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexis 090831

In linguistics, lexis (from the Greek: λέξις "word") describes the storage of language in our mental lexicon as prefabricated patterns (lexical units) that can be recalled and sorted into meaningful speech and writing. Recent research in corpus linguistics suggests that the long-held dichotomy between grammar and vocabulary does not exist. Lexis as a concept differs from the traditional paradigm of grammar in that it defines probable language use, not possible language usage. This notion contrasts starkly with the Chomskian proposition of a “Universal Grammar” as the prime mover for language; grammar still plays an integral role in lexis, of course, but it is the result of accumulated lexis, not its generator.


In short, the lexicon is

• Formulaic: it relies on partially-fixed expressions and highly probable word combinations
• Idiomatic: it follows conventions and patterns for usage
• Metaphoric: concepts such as time and money, business and sex, systems and water all share a large portion of the same vocabulary
• Grammatical: it uses rules based on sampling of the Lexicon
• Register-specific: it uses the same word differently and/or less frequently in different contexts

A major area of study psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics involves the question of how words are retrieved from the mental lexicon in online language processing and production. For example, the cohort model seeks to describe lexical retrieval in terms of segment-by-segment activation of competing lexical entries. [1] [2]

Formulaic Language

In recent years, the compilation of language databases using real samples from speech and writing has enabled researchers to take a fresh look at the composition of languages. Among other things, statistical research methods offer reliable insight into the ways in which words interact. The most interesting findings have taken place in the dichotomy between language use (how language is used) and language usage (how language could be used).

Language use shows which occurrences of words and their partners are most probable. The major finding of this research is that language users rely to a very high extent on ready-made language “lexical chunks”, which can be easily combined to form sentences. This eliminates the need for the speaker to analyze each sentence grammatically, yet deals with a situation effectively. Typical examples include “I see what you mean” or “Could you please hand me the …” or “Recent research shows that…”

Language usage, on the other hand, is what takes place when the ready-made chunks do not fulfill the speaker’s immediate needs; in other words, a new sentence is about to be formed and must be analyzed for correctness. Grammar rules have been internalized by native speakers, allowing them to determine the viability of new sentences. Language usage might be defined as a fall-back position when all other options have been exhausted.

Context and Co-Text

When analyzing the structure of language statistically, a useful place to start is with high frequency context words, or so-called Key Words in Context ( KWICs). After millions of samples of spoken and written language have been stored in a database, these KWICs can be sorted and analyzed for their co-text, or words which commonly co-occur with them. Valuable principles with which KWICs can be analyzed include:

• Collocation: words and their co-occurrences (examples include “fulfill needs” and “fall-back position”)

• Semantic prosody: the connotation words carry (“pay attention” can be neutral or remonstrative, as when a teacher says to a pupil: “Pay attention!” (or else)

• Colligation: the grammar words use (while “I hope that suits you” sounds natural, “I hope that you are suited by that” does not).

• Register: the text style a word is used in (“President vows to support allies” is most likely found in news headlines, whereas “vows” in speech most likely refer to “marriages”; in speech, the verb “vow” is most likely used as “promise”).

(partially adapted from Lewis, 1997)

Once data has been collected, it can be sorted to determine the probability of co-occurrences. One common and well-known way is with a concordance: the KWIC is centered and shown with dozens of examples of it in use, as with the example for “possibility” below.

UKT: More in Wikipedia article.

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Excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pāṇini 090814

Pāṇini (पाणिनि ; a patronymic meaning "descendant of Paṇi"), {pa-Ni.ni.} was an Ancient Indian Sanskrit grammarian linguist from Pushkalavati, Gandhara (fl. 4th century BCE [1] [2]).

He is known for his Sanskrit grammar, particularly for his formulation of the 3,959 rules [2] of Sanskrit morphology in the grammar known as Ashtadhyayi ( अष्टाध्यायी Aṣṭādhyāyī, meaning "eight chapters"), the foundational text of the grammatical branch of the Vedanga, the auxiliary scholarly disciplines of Vedic religion.

UKT 151204: There is considerable difference between the Old Vedic religion and the Later Brahmin-Poannar religion as can be attested from two facts.
1. Gautama Buddha, an astute observer of people's beliefs of his day who had learned the various religious practices under rishis teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta respectively, prior to his enlightenment, holds in high regard the old rishis of the Vedas, but has little regard for the new ones, who has altered the old beliefs to suit their own imported male gods.
2. The most important Vedic gods and goddess are the King of Heaven Indra, Protector of domestic life Agni, and Giver of Peace and Tranquility Soma (who is now represented by intoxicants like alcohol and psychedelic drugs), and not Mahabrahma, Vishnu and Shiva. There are more hymns directed to Indra, Agni, and Soma, than to Mahabrahma, Vishnu and Shiva. See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigvedic_deities 151204

The Ashtadhyayi is one of the earliest known grammars of Sanskrit, although he refers to previous texts like the Unadisutra, Dhatupatha, and Ganapatha. [2] It is the earliest known work on descriptive linguistics, generative linguistics, and together with the work of his immediate predecessors (Nirukta, Nighantu, Pratishak) stands at the beginning of the history of linguistics itself.

Pāṇini's comprehensive and scientific theory of grammar is conventionally taken to mark the end of the period of Vedic Sanskrit, by definition introducing Classical Sanskrit.

UKT: More in the original Wikipedia article. See a more detailed account on the subject in one of the files of this series:
Language and thought - lang.htm

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UKT: A portmanteau means a "suitcase" into which you pack your clothes for use during your travel.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portmanteau 090822

A portmanteau (pronounced /pɔrtmænˈtoʊ/) or portmanteau word is used broadly to mean a blend of two (or more) words, [1] [2] [3] and narrowly in linguistics fields to mean only a blend of two or more function words. [4] [5] [6] [7]


"Portmanteau word" is used to describe a linguistic blend, namely "a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their meanings." [1]

Such a definition of "portmanteau word" overlaps with the grammatical term contraction, and linguists avoid using the former term in such cases. As an example: the words <do + not>  become the contraction <don't>, a single word that represents the meaning of the combined words.


The usage of the word "portmanteau" in this sense first appeared in Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), [1] in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky. [8] [UKT: Jabberwocky is the caption of a no-sense poem in which some words have no meaning and the reader is at liberty to apply a meaning to it.]

• "‘Slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’... You see it's like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word"
• "‘Mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ (there's another portmanteau ... for you)".

Carroll uses the word again when discussing lexical selection:

Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "frumious." [8].

According to the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word portmanteau comes from French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum). [9]


Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon. [8] [UKT: ¶ ]

¤ In Punch [Magazine] in 1896, the word <brunch> (breakfast + lunch) was introduced as a "portmanteau word." [10]
¤ In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name.
¤ A <spork> is an eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and fork.

¤ "Wikipedia" is an example of a portmanteau word because it combines the word "wiki" with the word "Encyclopedia."

¤ The name Motown derives from the portmanteau of <motor> and <town>. It is also a nickname for the city of Detroit.

"Jeoportmanteau!" is a recurring category on the American television quiz show Jeopardy!. The category's name is itself a portmanteau of "Jeopardy" and "portmanteau". Responses in the category are portmanteaus constructed by fitting two words together. For example, the clue "Brett Favre or John Elway plus a knapsack" yielded the response "What is a 'quarterbackpack'?" [11]

"Blaxploitation" is a film genre/style, whose name derives from a portmanteau of "black" and "exploitation," reflecting its main theme of social problems, along with the stereotypical depiction of Black people in film.

Portmanteau words may be produced by joining together proper nouns with common nouns, such as "gerrymandering," which refers to the scheme of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry for politically contrived redistricting: one of the districts created resembled a salamander [ {ré-poat-thing] in outline. Two proper names can also be used in creating a portmanteau word in reference to the partnership between people, especially in cases where both persons are well-known, or sometimes to produce epithets such as "Billary" (referring to former United States president Bill Clinton and [his wife] Hillary Rodham Clinton). In this example of recent American political history, the purpose for blending is not so much to combine the meanings of the source words but "to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other"; the effect is often derogatory, as linguist Benjamin Zimmer notes. [12] In contrast, the public and even the media use portmanteaux to refer to their favorite pairings as a way to "...giv[e] people an essence of who they are within the same name." [13] This is particularly seen in cases of fictional and real-life "supercouples." An early and well-known example, "Bennifer", referred to film stars (and former couple) Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Other examples include "Brangelina" (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and "TomKat" (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). In double-barreled names, the hyphen is almost pushing one name away from the other. [13] Meshing says "I am you and you are me," notes one expert. [13]

Portmanteaux (or portmanteaus) [2] can also be created by attaching a prefix or suffix from one word to give that association to other words. Subsequent to the Watergate scandal, it became popular to attach the suffix "-gate" to other words to describe contemporary scandals, e.g. "Filegate" for the White House FBI files controversy, and Spygate, an incident involving the 2007 New England Patriots. Likewise, the suffix "-holism" or "-holic," taken from the word "alcoholism" or "alcoholic," can be added to a noun, creating a word that describes an addiction to that noun. Chocoholic, for instance, means a person who is "addicted" to chocolate. Also, the suffix " -athon" is often appended to other words to connote a similarity to a marathon (for example, telethon, phonathon and walkathon).

Portmanteau words can be used to describe bilingual speakers who use words from both languages while speaking. For instance, people are said to be speaking "Spanglish" when they are using both Spanish and English words to voice a complete thought, and likewise "Franglais" when mixing French and English language.

UKT: A portmanteau word you might have heard is "Burglish" - a blend of Burmese and English. Please note that Romabama is not Burglish. It is Burmese spoken language in extended-Latin alphabet.

It is also popular to use portmanteau words when breeding two breeds of dogs together. (ie. A "labrador" [a breed of dog] and a "poodle" [another breed of dog] mix can be called a "labradoodle.")

UKT: More in the original Wikipedia article.

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatics 090820

Pragmatics is a subfield of linguistics which studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. Pragmatics encompasses speech act theory, conversational implicature, talk in interaction and other approaches to language behavior in philosophy, sociology, and linguistics. [1] It studies how the transmission of meaning depends not only on the linguistic knowledge (e.g. grammar, lexicon etc.) of the speaker and listener, but also on the context of the utterance, knowledge about the status of those involved, the inferred intent of the speaker, and so on. [2] In this respect, pragmatics explains how language users are able to overcome apparent ambiguity, since meaning relies on the manner, place, time etc. of an utterance. [1] The ability to understand another speaker's intended meaning is called pragmatic competence. An utterance describing pragmatic function is described as metapragmatic. Pragmatic awareness is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of language learning, and comes only through experience.

Structural ambiguity

The sentence "You have a green light" is ambiguous. Without knowing the context, the identity of the speaker, and their intent, it is not possible to infer the meaning with confidence. For example:

• It could mean you are holding a green light bulb.
• Or that you have a green light to drive your car.
• Or it could be indicating that you can go ahead with the project.

Similarly, the sentence "Sherlock saw the man with binoculars" could mean that Sherlock observed the man by using binoculars; or it could mean that Sherlock observed a man who was holding binoculars. [3] The meaning of the sentence depends on an understanding of the context and the speaker's intent. [UKT: ¶ ]

As defined in linguistics, a sentence is an abstract entity — a string of words divorced from non-linguistic context — as opposed to an utterance, which is a concrete example of a speech act in a specific context. The cat sat on the mat is a sentence of English; if you say to your sister on Tuesday afternoon: "The cat sat on the mat", this is an example of an utterance. Thus, there is no such thing as a sentence with a single true meaning; it is underspecified (which cat sat on which mat?) and potentially ambiguous. The meaning of an utterance, on the other hand, is inferred based on linguistic knowledge and knowledge of the non-linguistic context of the utterance (which may or may not be sufficient to resolve ambiguity).

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

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prosody (linguistics)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosody 090823

In linguistics, prosody (from Greek προσῳδία, prosōidía) is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of connected speech (as opposed to smaller elements like syllables or words). Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of a speaker; whether an utterance is a statement, a question, or a command; whether the speaker is being ironic or sarcastic; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of language that may not be encoded by grammar or choice of vocabulary.

Acoustic attributes of prosody

Acoustically, the prosodics of oral languages involve variation in syllable length, loudness, pitch, and the formant frequencies of speech sounds. In cued speech and sign languages, prosody involves the rhythm, length, and tension of gestures, along with mouthing and facial expressions. [UKT ¶ ]

Prosody is absent in writing, which is one reason e-mail, for example, may notoriously be misunderstood. Orthographic conventions to mark or substitute for prosody include punctuation (commas, exclamation marks, question marks, scare quotes, and ellipses), typographic styling for emphasis (italic, bold, and underlined text), and emoticons.

The details of a language's prosody depend upon its phonology. For instance, in a language with phonemic vowel length, this must be marked separately from prosodic syllable length. Similarly, prosodic pitch must not obscure tone in a tone language if the result is to be intelligible. Although tone languages such as Mandarin have prosodic pitch variations in the course of a sentence, such variations are long and smooth contours, on which the short and sharp lexical tones are superimposed. [UKT ¶ ]

If pitch can be compared to ocean waves, the swells are the prosody, and the wind-blown ripples in their surface are the lexical tones, as with stress in English. The word dessert has greater stress on the second syllable, compared to desert which has greater stress on the first; but this distinction is not obscured when the entire word is stressed by a child demanding "Give me dessert!" [UKT ¶ ]

UKT: Compare the IPA transcriptions of
¤ <dessert> /dɪˡzɜːt/
¤ <desert> /dɪ|ˡzɜːt/ (note inclusion of | )

Vowels in many languages are likewise pronounced differently (typically less centrally) in a careful rhythm or when a word is emphasized, but not so much as to overlap with the formant structure of a different vowel. Both lexical and prosodic information are encoded in rhythm, loudness, pitch, and vowel formants.

The prosodic domain

Prosodic features are suprasegmental. They are not confined to any one segment, but occur in some higher level of an utterance. These prosodic units are the actual phonetic "spurts", or chunks of speech. They need not correspond to grammatical units such as phrases and clauses , though they may; and these facts suggest insights into how the brain processes speech.

Prosodic units are marked by phonetic cues, such as a coherent pitch contour – or the gradual decline in pitch and lengthening of vowels over the duration of the unit, until the pitch and speed are reset to begin the next unit. Breathing, both inhalation and exhalation, only seems to occur at these boundaries where the prosody resets.

"Prosodic structure" is important in language contact and lexical borrowing. Linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann demonstrates that in "Israeli" (his term for Modern Hebrew), the XiXéX verb-template is much more productive than the XaXáX verb-template because in morphemic adaptations of non-Hebrew stems, the XiXéX verb-template is more likely to retain — in all conjugations throughout the tenses — the prosodic structure (e.g. the consonant clusters and the location of the vowels) of the stem.

For example, the Israeli verb le-transfér "to transfer (people)" is fitted into the XiXéX verb-template. In the past (3rd person, masculine, singular) one says trinsfér, in the present metransfér and in the future yetransfér. The consonant clusters of the stem transfer are kept throughout. Now, let us try to fit the stem transfer into the XaXáX verb-template, which in fact used to be the most productive one in Classical Hebrew. The normal pattern can be seen in garám–gorém–yigróm "cause" (past, present, future). So, yesterday, he *transfár "transferred (people)"; today, he *tronsfér. So far so good; the consonant clusters and the location of the vowels of transfer are maintained, the specific characteristics of the vowels (e.g. whether they are a or i) being less important. However, the future form, *yitrnsfór, is impossible because among other things, lacking a vowel between the r and the n, it violates the prosodic structure of the stem transfer.

According to Zuckermann, this is exactly why the stem click "select by pressing one of the buttons on the computer mouse" was fitted into the hiXXíX verb-template, resulting in hiklík rather than in the XiXéX (*kilék) or XaXáX (*kalák) verb-templates. The form hiklík is the only one preserving the [kl] cluster.

One important conclusion is that prosodic considerations supersede semantic ones. For example, although hiXXíX is historically the causative verb-template, it is employed — on purely phonological grounds — in the intransitive hishvíts "show off" (from Yiddish shvits) and in the ambitransitive (in fact, usually intransitive) hiklík "click" (cf. English click). [1]

Prosody and emotion

Emotional prosody is the expression of feelings using prosodic elements of speech. It was recognized by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man as predating the evolution of human language: " Even monkeys express strong feelings in different tones – anger and impatience by low,  – fear and pain by high notes." [2] Native speakers listening to actors reading emotionally neutral text while projecting emotions correctly recognized happiness 62% of the time, anger 95%, surprise 91%, sadness 81%, and neutral tone 76%. When a database of this speech was processed by computer, segmental features allowed better than 90% recognition of happiness and anger, while suprasegmental prosodic features allowed only 44%–49% recognition. The reverse was true for surprise, which was recognized only 69% of the time by segmental features and 96% of the time by suprasegmental prosody. [3] In typical conversation (no actor voice involved) the recognition of emotion may be quite low, of the order of 50%, hampering the complex interrelationship function of speech advocated by some authors. [4]

Brain location of prosody

An aprosodia is an acquired or developmental impairment in comprehending or generating the emotion conveyed in spoken language.

Producing these nonverbal elements requires intact motor areas of the face, mouth, tongue, and throat. This area is associated with Brodmann areas 44 and 45 (Broca's area) of the left frontal lobe. Damage to areas 44/45 produces motor aprosodia, with the nonverbal elements of speech being disturbed (facial expression, tone, rhythm of voice).

Understanding these nonverbal elements requires an intact and properly functioning Brodmann area 22 (Wernicke's area) in the right hemisphere. Right-hemispheric area 22 aids in the interpretation of prosody, and damage causes sensory aprosodia, with the patient unable to comprehend changes in voice and body language.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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root (linguistics)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root 090818

The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents.  [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 151215: The symbol for root is borrowed from mathematics: √
You can copy & paste from Doggie's Tale in my notes on most indx.htm files such as - lang-mean-indx.htm (link chk 151215)

Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist only of, root morphemes. However, sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, <chatters> has the inflectional root or lemma <chatter>, but the lexical root <chat>. [UKT ¶ ]

Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.

The traditional definition allows roots to be either free morphemes or bound morphemes. Root morphemes are essential for affixation and compounds. However, in polysynthetic languages with very high levels of inflectional morphology, the term "root" is generally synonymous with "free morpheme". Many such languages have a very restricted number of morphemes that can stand alone as a word: Yup'ik [language], for instance, has no more than two thousand.

The root of a word is a unit of meaning (morpheme) and, as such, it is an abstraction, though it can usually be represented in writing as a word would be. For example, it can be said that the root of the English verb form <running> is <run>, or the root of the Spanish superlative adjective amplísimo is ampl-, since those words are clearly derived from the root forms by simple suffixes that do not alter the roots in any way. [UKT ¶]

English, in particular, has very little inflection, and hence a tendency to have words that are identical to their roots. But more complicated inflection, as well as other processes, can obscure the root; for example, the root of <mice> is <mouse> (still a valid word), and the root of <interrupt> is, arguably, <rupt>, which is not a word in English and only appears in derivational forms (such as <disrupt>, <corrupt>, <rupture>, etc.). The root <rupt> is written as if it were a word, but it's not.

UKT: Points to remember from the above paragraph:
• Root still visible: simple inflection
  ¤ Root <run> --> <running>
  ¤ Root <rupt> --> <disrupt>, <corrupt>, <rupture>, etc.
• Root obscure: complicated inflection
  ¤ Root <mouse> --> <mice>

This distinction between the word as a unit of speech and the root as a unit of meaning is even more important in the case of languages where roots have many different forms when used in actual words, as is the case in Semitic languages. In these, roots are formed by consonants alone, and different words (belonging to different parts of speech) are derived from the same root by inserting vowels. For example, in Hebrew, the root gdl represents the idea of largeness, and from it we have gadol and gdola (masculine and feminine forms of the adjective "big"), gadal  "he grew", higdil  "he magnified" and magdelet "magnifier", along with many other words such as godel "size" and migdal "tower".

Secondary roots

"Consider Israeli Hebrew מיקום mikúm ‘locating’, from Israeli Hebrew מקמ √mqm ‘locate’, which derives from Biblical Hebrew מקום måqom ‘place’, whose root is קומ √qwm ‘stand’. A recent example introduced by the Academy of the Hebrew Language is מדרוג midrúg ‘rating’, from מדרג midrág, whose root is דרג √drg ‘grade’." [1]

According to Ghil'ad Zuckermann, "this process is morphologically similar to the production of frequentative (iterative) verbs in Latin, for example:

iactito ‘to toss about’ derives from iacto ‘to boast of, keep bringing up, harass, disturb, throw, cast, fling away’, which in turn derives from iacio ‘to throw, cast’ (whose past participle is iactus).

scriptito ‘to write often, compose’ is based on scribo ‘to write’ (<‘to draw lines, engrave with a sharp-pointed instrument’).

UKT note for future use: The English word <script> and the Burmese-Myanmar word {hkyic} from the compound word {ré:hkyic} have very similar pronunciations which are written with r2 consonants of Myanmar akshara table. Note the pronunciations of r2 in Devanagari table.
  s , {sa.} {hkric}, च Ca

dicto ‘to say often, repeat’ is from dico ‘to indicate, say, speak, tell’.

clamito ‘to cry loudly/often, shout violently’ derives from clamo ‘call, shout’." [2]

"Consider also Rabbinic Hebrew תרמ √trm ‘donate, contribute’ (Mishnah: T’rumoth 1:2: ‘separate priestly dues’), which derives from Biblical Hebrew תרומה t'rūmå ‘contribution’, whose root is רומ √rwm ‘raise’; cf. Rabbinic Hebrew תרע √tr` ‘sound the trumpet, blow the horn’, from Biblical Hebrew תרועה t'rū`å ‘shout, cry, loud sound, trumpet-call’, in turn from רוע √rw`." [3]

"Similar cases occur in Arabic, e.g.

• مركز √mrkz, cf. ['markaza] ‘centralized (masculine, singular)’, from [markaz] ‘centre’, from [rakaza] ‘plant into the earth, stick up (a lance)’ (< ركز √rkz).

• أرجح √'rjħ, cf. [ta'arjaħa] ‘oscillated (masculine, singular)’, from ['urju:ħa] ‘swing (n)’, from [rajaħa] ‘weighed down, preponderated (masculine, singular)’ (< رجح √rjħ). 

• محور √mħwr, cf. [tamaħwara] ‘centred, focused (masculine, singular)’, from [miħwar] ‘axis’, from [ħa:ra] ‘turned (masculine, singular)’ (< حور √ħwr). 

• مسخر √msxr, cf. تمسخر [tamasxara] ‘mocked, made fun (masculine, singular)', from مسخرة [masxara] ‘mockery’, from سخر [saxira] ‘mocked (masculine, singular)’ (< سخر √sxr)." [4]

UKT: End of Wikipedia article

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From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic 090820

Semantics is the study of meaning. The word "semantics" itself denotes a range of ideas, from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation. This problem of understanding has been the subject of many formal inquiries, over a long period of time. The word is derived from the Greek word σημαντικός (semantikos), "significant",[1] from σημαίνω (semaino), "to signify, to indicate" and that from σήμα (sema), "sign, mark, token". [2] In linguistics, it is the study of interpretation of signs or symbols as used by agents or communities within particular circumstances and contexts. [3] Within this view, sounds, facial expressions, body language, proxemics have semantic (meaningful) content, and each has several branches of study. In written language, such things as paragraph structure and punctuation have semantic content; in other forms of language, there is other semantic content. [3]

The formal study of semantics intersects with many other fields of inquiry, including proxemics, lexicology, syntax, pragmatics, etymology and others, although semantics is a well-defined field in its own right, often with synthetic properties.[4] In philosophy of language, semantics and reference are related fields. Further related fields include philology, communication, and semiotics. The formal study of semantics is therefore complex.

The word semantic in its modern sense is considered to have first appeared in French as sémantique in Michel Bréal's 1897 book, Essai de sémantique'. In International Scientific Vocabulary semantics is also called semasiology. The discipline of Semantics is distinct from Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics, which is a system for looking at the semantic reactions of the whole human organism in its environment to some event, symbolic or otherwise.

In linguistics, semantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (referred to as texts).

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article

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Sabda-brahman : {þûb~da. brah~ma}

UKT 151209

The two words Brahman & Brahmin can easily be mixed up leading one to assume that they are the same. To differentiate the two I usually use the Bur-Myan and Romabama for each of them. Brahman {brah~ma} is the Axiomatic Creator-God, whereas Brahmin is the human {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:}.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabda_Brahman 151209
UKT: I have inserted Skt-Dev (& gloss) equivalents after some English transliterations to help me understand the terms better. The Skt-Dev are usually from SpkSkt. Then, for some, by aks-to-aks transliteration I arrive at Skt-Myan. However, these words must not be confused with Pal-Myan.

Shabda Brahman or Sabda-brahman means transcendental sound (Shatapatha Brahmana III.12.48) or sound vibration (Shatpatha Brahmana Vi.16.51) or the transcendental sound of the Vedas (Shatpatha Brahmana Xi.21.36) or of Vedic scriptures (Shatpatha Brahmana X.20.43). [1]

Shabda शब्द «śabda» 'sound, word' or sabda {þûb~da.}, stands for word manifested by sound ('verbal') and such a word has innate power to convey a particular sense or meaning (Artha). [UKT ¶]

UKT 151209: Now I can get a new word - {þûb~da. brah~ma}.
This probably indicates that it is not the Mahabrahma of the Vaishnavite Hindu Trinity.

According to the Nyaya and the Vaisheshika schools, Shabda means verbal testimony; to the Sanskrit grammarians, Yaska, Panini and Katyayana it meant a unit of language or speech or vac. In the philosophical terms this word appears for the first time in the Maitri Upanishad (Sloka VI.22) that speaks of two kinds of Brahman - Shabda Brahman ('Brahman with sound') and Ashabda Brahman ('soundless Brahman'). Bhartrhari speaks about the creative power of shabda, the manifold universe is a creation of Shabda Brahman (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.i.2). Speech is equated with Brahman (Shatpatha Brahmana Rig Veda states that Brahman extends as far as Vāc (R.V.X.114.8), and has hymns in praise of Speech as the Creator (R.V.X.71.7) and as the final abode of Brahman (R.V.I.164.37). Time is the creative power of Shabda Brahman.[2][3]

Purva Mimamsa deals with Shabda Brahman ('cosmic sound or word') which is endowed with names and forms and is projected in vedic revelations (the mantras, hymns, prayers etc.). Vedanta deals with Parama Brahman ('the Ultimate Reality') which is transcendent and devoid of names and forms. One has to become well established in Shabda Brahman before realizing Parama Brahman. Vedas are not the product of conventional language but the emanation of reality in form of Shabda (sound, word) which is the sole cause of creation and is eternal. Purva Mimamsa, an esoteric discipline, from the point of view of spiritual growth aims at attaining the heavenly happiness by realizing Shabda Brahman (cosmic sound) by conducting yajnas that help control the senses and the mind; when the mind and the senses are subdued the inner subtle sound is realized as Shabda Brahman. [4]

The fundamental theory of Indian classical music, art and poetry is grounded in the theory of Nada Brahman or Shabda Brahman, and is linked with the Vedic religion.[5] The Apara Brahman mentioned by Mandukya Upanishad is Nada Brahman or Shabda Brahman. Shiva Samhita states that whenever and wherever there is causal stress or Divine action, there is vibration (spandan or kampan), and wherever there is vibration or movement there sound (Shabda) is inevitable. "M" of Aum, the primordial vac represents shabda which is the root and essence of everything; it is Pranava and Pranava is Vedas, Vedas are Shabda Brahman. Consciousness in all beings is Shabda Brahman.[6]

When the necessity of directing the Mantra (identical to Ishta) internally and to objects externally is transcended then one gains Mantra chaitanya which then awakens Atman chaitanya, the Divine Consciousness, and unites with it. The Mantra is Shabda Brahman and Ishta is the light of Consciousness. The prana, body and mind along with the entire universe, are all expressions of Mantra chaitanya. At the ultimate level of Shabda Brahman words become wordless, forms become formless and all multiplicity unified in Consciousness residing in that transcendent glory extends beyond mind and speech.[7]

In the Bhagavad Gita (Sloka VI.44) the term Shabda Brahman has been used to mean Vedic injunctions. Adi Shankara explains that the Yogic impressions do not perish even when held up for a long period, even he who seeks to comprehend the essence of Yoga and begins to tread the path of Yoga goes beyond the spheres of the fruits of Vedic works, he sets them aside. [8] In this context Srimad Bhagavatam (Sloka III.33.7) has also been relied upon to high-light the disregard of Vedic rituals by the advanced transcendentalists. [9] Gaudapada clarifies that the letter "a" of Aum leads to Visva, the letter "u"" leads to Taijasa and the letter "m" leads to Prajna. With regard to one freed from letters, there remains no attainment (Mandkya Karika I.23). Aum is Shabda Brahman, Aum is the Root Sound of which creation is a series of permutations.[10]

According to the Tantric concept, Sound is the first manifestation of Parama Shiva; in its primary stage it is a pschic wave. Its very existence entails the presence of spandan or movement ('vibration') without which there cannot be sound; spandan is the quality of Saguna brahman and the world is the thought-projection of Saguna Shiva. The very first sutra of Sarada Tilaka explains the significance and hidden meaning of Shabda Brahman.[11]

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synthetic language (inflectional language)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_language 090820

A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio in one word. This linguistic classification is largely independent of morpheme-usage classifications (such as fusional, agglutinative, etc.), although there is a common tendency for agglutinative languages to exhibit synthetic properties.

Synthetic vs. isolating languages

Synthetic languages are frequently contrasted with isolating languages [non-inflectional language]. It is more accurate to conceive of languages as existing on a continuum, with strictly isolating (consistently one morpheme per word) at one end and highly polysynthetic (in which a single word may contain as much information as an entire English sentence) at the other extreme. Synthetic languages tend to lie around the middle of this scale.


Synthetic languages are numerous and well-attested, the most commonly cited being Indo-European languages such as Spanish, Greek, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Polish and Czech, as well as many languages of the Americas, including Navajo, Nahuatl, Mohawk and Quechua.

There are several ways in which a language can exhibit synthetic characteristics:

Derivational synthesis

In derivational synthesis, morphemes of different types (nouns, verbs, affixes, etc.) are joined to create new words. For example:

German: Aufsichtsratsmitgliederversammlung => "On-view-council-with-link-plural-gathering" meaning "meeting of members of the supervisory board" ("with" and "link" (as in link of a chain) forming a derivation that is the German word for "member")

Greek: υπερχοληστερολαίμια => "overmuch/high-cholesterol-blood+-ia(suffix)" meaning "hypercholesterolemia"

Polish: przystanek => "beside-stand-little" meaning " bus stop"

English: antidisestablishmentarianism => "against-ending-institutionalize-condition-advocate-ideology"

Russian: спасибо => "God-save" (thank you)

Relational synthesis

In relational synthesis, root words are joined to bound morphemes to show grammatical function:

Italian: comunicandovele => "communicating-you (plural)-those (feminine, plural)" meaning "(while or by) communicating those (feminine, plural) to you(plural)"

Spanish: escribiéndomelo => "writing-me-it (masculine/neuter)" meaning "(while or by) writing it to me"

Nahuatl: ocaltizquiya => "already-(she)-him-bathe-would" meaning "she would have bathed him"

Japanese: 見せられがたい (miseraregatai ) => "see-causative-passive-difficult" meaning "it's difficult to be shown (this)"

Finnish: juoksentelisinkohan => "run- erratic motion- conditional-I-question-casual" meaning "I wonder if I should run around (aimlessly)"

Turkish: Afyonkarahisarlılaştıramayabileceklerimizden misiniz => meaning "Are you (all) amongst the ones whom we may not be able to make citizens of Afyonkarahisar?"

Degree of synthesis (Language continuum)

UKT: Language continuum (waiting for comments from my peers)
  ¤ polysynthetic <--> synthetic <--> isolating
e.g. Pali <--> French <--> English <--> Burmese <--> Mandarin-Chinese

In order to demonstrate the "continuum" nature of the isolating-synthetic-polysynthetic classification, some examples are shown below:



"He travelled by hovercraft on the sea."
Largely isolating, but travelled and hovercraft each have two morphemes per word,

the former being an example of relational synthesis (inflection), and the latter of derivational synthesis (derivation).


 (Watashitachi ni totte, kono naku kodomo no shashin wa miseraregatai mono desu) means
strictly literally: "In our case, these pictures of children crying are things that are difficult to be shown,"
approximately: We cannot bear being shown these pictures of children crying in more idiomatic English.

In the example, virtually every word has more than one morpheme and some have up to five (the particles ni, no, wa  are enclitic case markers, i.e., they are phonologically part of the previous word).

en·clit·ic Linguistics n. 1. A word or particle that has no independent accent and forms an accentual and sometimes also graphemic unit with the preceding word. In <Give 'em the works>, the pronoun <'em> is an enclitic. adj. 1. Forming an accentual unit with the preceding word, and thus having no independent accent. [Late Latin encliticus from Greek enklitikos from enklinein to lean on en- on, in; See en- 2 klinein to lean; See klei- in Indo-European Roots.] -- AHTD


Käyttäytyessään tottelemattomasti oppilas saa jälki-istuntoa
means "Should he/she behave in an insubordinate manner, the student will get detention."
Structurally: behaviour (present/future tense) (of his/hers) obey (without)(in the manner/style) studying (he/she who (should be)) gets detention (some).

Practically every word is derived and/or inflected, and one word can be considered polysynthetic. This is, however, very formal language - almost like judicial text - and usually replaced by more analytic structure:

 Kun oppilas käyttäytyy tottelemattomasti, hän saa jälki-istuntoa.


means "He ruined her dress"
(strictly, "He made the thing that one puts on one's body ugly for her").

One word expresses the idea that would be conveyed in an entire sentence in a non-polysynthetic language.

Further information: Polysynthetic language


Oligosynthetic languages are a theoretical notion created by Benjamin Whorf with no known examples existing in natural languages. Such languages would be functionally synthetic, but make use of a very limited array of morphemes (perhaps just a few hundred). Whorf proposed that Nahuatl [language] was oligosynthetic, but this has since been discounted by most linguists.

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word stem

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem 090818

In linguistics, a stem (sometimes also theme) is a part of a word. The term is used with slightly different meanings.

[UKT: The word stem is used in two usages as follows:]

In one usage, a stem is a form to which affixes can be attached. [1] Thus, in this usage, the English word <friendships> contains the stem <friend>, to which the derivational suffix <-ship> is attached to form a new stem <friendship>, to which the inflectional suffix <-s> is attached. In a variant of this usage, the root of the word (in the example, <friend>) is not counted as a stem.

In a slightly different usage, which is adopted in the remainder of this article, a word has a single stem, namely the part of the word that is common to all its inflected variants. [2] Thus, in this usage, all derivational affixes are part of the stem. For example, the stem of <friendships> is <friendship>, to which the inflectional suffix <-s> is attached.

Stems may be roots, e.g. <run>, or they may be morphologically complex, as in compound words (cf. the compound nouns <meat ball> or <bottle opener>) or words with derivational morphemes (cf. the derived verbs <black-en> or <standard-ize>). [UKT ¶ ]

UKT: Stems may be:
• roots : <run>
• morphologically complex words: <meat ball> , <bottle opener>
• words with derivational morphemes: <black-en> , <standard-ize>

Thus, the stem of the complex English noun <photographer> is <photo·graph·er>, but not <photo>. [UKT ¶ ]

For another example, the root of the English verb form <destabilized> is <stabil->, a form of <stable> that does not occur alone; the stem is <de·stabil·ize>, which includes the derivational affixes <de-> and <-ize>, but not the inflectional past tense suffix <-(e)d>. That is, a stem is that part of a word that inflectional affixes attach to.

UKT: For the English word <destabilized>
• root: <stabil-> - a form of <stable>
  ¤ prefix: <de->
  ¤ suffix: <-ize> : (<-(e)d> is a suffix but not counted)
• stem: <de·stabil·ize>

The exact use of the word 'stem' depends on the morphology of the language is question. In Athabaskan linguistics, for example, a verb stem is a root that cannot appear on its own, and that carries the tone of the word. Athabaskan verbs typically have two stems in this analysis, each preceded by prefixes.

Citation forms (lemma or dictionary form) and bound morphemes

In languages with very little inflection, such as English and Chinese, the stem is usually not distinct from the "normal" form of the word (the lemma, citation or dictionary form). [UKT ¶ ]

In other languages, however, stems may rarely or never occur on their own. For example, the English verb stem <run> is indistinguishable from its present tense form (except in the third person singular); but the equivalent Spanish verb stem corr- never appears as such, since it is cited with the infinitive inflection (correr ) and always appears in actual speech as a non-finite (infinitive or participle) or conjugated form. Morphemes like Spanish corr- which can't occur on their own in this way, are usually referred to as bound morphemes.

A stem is the part of the word that never changes even when morphologically infected, whilst a lemma is the base form of the verb. For example, given the word <produced>, its lemma (linguistics) is <produce>, however the stem is <produc> : this is because there are words such as production. [3]

Paradigms and suppletion

A list of all the inflected forms of a stem is called its inflectional paradigm. The paradigm of the adjective <tall> is given below, and the stem of this adjective is <tall>.

• <tall> (positive); <taller> (comparative); <tallest> (superlative)

Some paradigms do not make use of the same stem throughout; this phenomenon is called suppletion. An example of a suppletive paradigm is the paradigm for the adjective <good> : its stem changes from <good> to the bound morpheme bet-.

• <good> (positive); <better> (comparative); <best> (superlative)

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Yāska : {yaaþ~ka.}

- UKT 151208

It is said that nothing is known about the linguist Yaska except that he was the author of Nirukta {ni.roat~ta.} 'etymology'. Yet, the word Nirukta, and other words Vyākaraṇa {bya-ka.reigN:} and Vedanga {wé-dïn~ga.} tell me a lot about him. To us Vedanga 'Limbs of the Veda' is more important than the present-day "Veda the collection of hymns to unsubstantiated gods and goddesses". Veda is Knowledge itself - not just hymns and formulas for sacrifices which the Buddha condemns. In ¤ Dictionary of Pali-derived Myanmar words (in Bur-Myan) (PDMD), the author U Tun Myint (of Univ. of Rangoon Press, 1968) gives the following. Please remember that I am not well versed in Bur-Myan grammar, and that PDMD is just a dictionary - not a treatise on grammar.

Nirukta {ni.roat~ta.} - UTM PDMD ? (not included)

Vyākaraṇa {bya-ka.reigN:} - UTM PDMD207

Vedanga {wé-dïn~ga.} - UTM PDMD302
  Same as {wé-da.ïn~ga} 'limbs of Knowledge'. There are 6:
  1. {kûp~pa.} «kalpa» 'modes of sacrifice'
  2. {bya-ka.reigN:} «vyākaraṇa» 'rules of grammar'
  3. {zau:ti.þût~hta.}* «jyotiṣa» 'mathematics and predictive astrology' .
  4. {þaik~hka} «śikṣā» 'phonetics, phonology, and sandhi {þûn~Di} सन्धिः 'joining at morpheme or word boundaries'. See UTM PDMD359. MLC MED508 does not give any grammatical meaning.
  5. {ni.roat~ta.} «
nirukta»: etymology
  6. {hsûn~dau:wi.si.ti.} «chandas»: meter

* I, as one who has studied Hindu Predictive Astrology, specializing in Astakavarga after B.V. Raman, take this to be Astronomy-Astrology. See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore_Venkata_Raman 151208
Note the word शास्त्र (= श ा स ् त ् र ) 'manual of instruction, any sacred book or composition of divine authority'.


From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C4%81ska 151208

Yāska यास्क (= य ा स ् क) {yaaþ~ka.}, was an early Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini (fl. 4th BC), assumed to have lived in the 6th or 5th century BC. Nothing is known about him other than that he is traditionally identified as the author of Nirukta, the discipline of "etymology" (explanation of words) within Vyākaraṇa 'Sanskrit grammatical tradition'.

Yaska is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of Sanskrit words. He is thought to have succeeded Śākaṭāyana, an old grammarian and expositor of the Vedas, who is mentioned in his text.

The Nirukta attempts to explain how certain words get to have their meanings, especially in the context of interpreting the Vedic texts. It includes a system of rules for forming words from roots and affixes, and a glossary of irregular words, and formed the basis for later lexicons and dictionaries. It consists of three parts, viz.:(i) Naighantuka, a collection of synonyms; (ii) Naigama, a collection of words peculiar to the Vedas, and (iii) Daivata, words relating to deities and sacrifices.

The Nirukta was one of the six vedangas or compulsory ritual subjects in syllabus of Sanskrit scholarship in ancient India.

Yāska defines four main categories of words: [1]

1. nāma – nouns or substantives
2. ākhyāta – verbs
3. upasarga – pre-verbs or prefixes
4. nipāta – particles, invariant words (perhaps prepositions)

Yāska singled out two main ontological categories: a process or an action (bhāva), and an entity or a being or a thing (sattva). Then he first defined the verb as that in which the bhāva ('process') is predominant whereas a noun is that in which the sattva ('thing') is predominant. The 'process' is one that has, according to one interpretation, an early stage and a later stage and when such a 'process' is the dominant sense, a finite verb is used as in vrajati, 'walks', or pachati, 'cooks'.[1]

But this characterisation of noun / verb is inadequate, as some processes may also have nominal forms. For e.g., He went for a walk. Hence, Yāska proposed that when a process is referred to as a 'petrified' or 'configured' mass (mUrta) extending from start to finish, a verbal noun should be used, e.g. vrajyā, a walk, or pakti, a cooking. The latter may be viewed as a case of summary scanning,[2] since the element of sequence in the process is lacking.

These concepts are related to modern notions of grammatical aspect, the murta constituting the perfective and the bhāva the imperfective aspect.

Yāska also gives a test for nouns both concrete and abstract: nouns are words which can be indicated by the pronoun that.

As in modern semantic theory, Yāska views words as the main carriers of meaning. This view – that words have a primary or preferred ontological status in defining meaning, was fiercely debated in the Indian tradition over many centuries. The two sides of the debate may be called the Nairuktas (based on Yāska's Nirukta, atomists), vs the Vaiyākarans (grammarians following Pāṇini, holists), and the debate continued in various forms for twelve centuries involving different philosophers from the Nyaya, Mimamsa and Buddhist schools.

In the prātishākhya texts that precede Yāska, and possibly Sakatayana as well, the gist of the controversy was stated cryptically in sutra form as "saṃhitā pada-prakṛtiḥ". According to the atomist view, the words would be the primary elements (prakṛti) out of which the sentence is constructed, while the holistic view considers the sentence as the primary entity, originally given in its context of utterance, and the words are arrived at only through analysis and abstraction.

This debate relates to the atomistic vs holistic interpretation of linguistic fragments – a very similar debate is raging today between traditional semantics and cognitive linguistics, over the view whether words in themselves have semantic interpretations that can be composed to form larger strings. The cognitive linguistics view of semantics is that any definition of a word ultimately constrains it meanings because the actual meaning of a word can only be construed by considering a large number of individual contextual cues.

Yāska also defends the view, presented first in the lost text of Sakatayana that etymologically, most nouns have their origins in verbs. An example in English may be the noun origin, derived from the Latin originalis, which is ultimately based on the verb oriri, "to rise". This view is related to the position that in defining agent categories, behaviours are ontologically primary to, say, appearance. This was also a source for considerable debate for several centuries (see Sakatayana for details).

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