Drude, Sebastian. 2008. "Inflectional units and their effects"
Drude, Sebastian. 2008. "Inflectional units and their effects: the case of verbal prefixes in Guaraní".

In: Robin Sackmann (ed). Explorations in Integrational Linguistics: four essays on German, French, and Guaraní. (Studies in Integrational Linguistics, 1). Amsterdam; Philadelphia: Benjamins. (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 285). 153–189.


A. Table of contents

  1. Introduction
    1.1 Aims and general strategy
    1.2 Guaraní
    1.3 Theoretical background
  2. The verbal personal system of Guaraní
    2.1 The personal prefixes
    2.2 Reference hierarchy
    2.3 Conjugational classes
    2.4 Other prefixes
  3. An integrational analysis of the personal system of Guaraní
    3.1 The traditional conceptions based on Latin grammar
    3.2 Beyond Latin grammar
    3.3 Transitive verbs
    3.4 Reflexive, reciprocal, desiderative, and command
  4. Structural and functional systems, and the system link
    4.1 The structural system
    4.2 The functional system
    4.3 The system link
    4.4 From the description of structures to a description of units
  5. Inflectional units contained in forms
    5.1 Inflectional units
    5.2 An example
    5.3 Being contained
  6. The functional effects of inflectional units
    6.1 Containing sets and inflectional-unit categories
    6.2 Marking pairs of inflectional units and their description
    6.3 Marking effects and specificity of inflectional units, and language types

B. Abstract

The person system of Paraguayan Guaraní verbs shows several interesting phenomena such as reflexive and reciprocal forms, a distinction of a first person plural inclusive and exclusive but no distinction of number in the third person, and a person hierarchy that determines whether the forms of transitive verbs explicitly express the person and number of the subject, of the object, or of both. All this is achieved by a small set of verbal inflectional prefixes.
This essay makes three major contributions:
  1. it presents a new coherent analysis of the verbal person system of Guaraní in terms of the integrational Word-and-Paradigm framework;
  2. it outlines and exemplifies how a description of individual inflectional units (i.e., inflectional affixes and auxiliaries) can be given in this framework, based on the analysis (1);
  3. in order to achieve (2), it provides additional definitions, expanding the theoretical framework in the area of inflectional units and their effects.
The essay is structured as follows.
In the Introduction, Section 1, a general introduction (1.1) and a characte­rization of basic features of Guaraní (1.2) is given, including an explanation of the orthography used.
Section 1.3 gives an overview of relevant aspects of the theoretical framework used in this paper, explaining the conception of paradigms and, in particular, the system link, a key notion that formally reconstructs the interplay of formal properties of word forms and their functional effects, both in terms of categories that are organized in classification systems, central components of a language's basis for paradigms.
The main part of the paper treats the person system of Guaraní. First, Section 2 gives an informal account of the prefixes of Guaraní verbs (2.1) and the hierarchy of reference for transitive verbs (2.2), one of the major verb classes of Guaraní distinguished in Section 2.3. Some other prefixes occurring in imperative and desiderative forms are presented in Section 2.4.
Section 3 proceeds with the analysis in integrational terms. After discussing traditional and other possible analyses (3.1), the new account is outlined. Its core conception (3.2) are three person classifications for participation of each of speaker, hearer and others, instead of the familiar two classifications for person and number. Section 3.3 deals with the person categories of forms of transitive verbs — three analogous classifications for the person of object are assumed in addition to the three subject categories that hold also for intransitive verbs. Finally, the analysis is completed by including reflexive, reciprocal, desiderative and command forms (3.4).
The resulting main formal components of the basis for Guaraní verb paradigms are presented in Section 4: The Structural System (4.1) has two branches, one for the type of stem (reconstructing the verb classes), where for the transitive verbs the forms with reflexive and reciprocal prefixes je- and jo- are accounted for in an additional classification. The other branch provides the structural categories resulting based on the different person prefixes and a classification for the presence or absence of the desiderative prefix t(a)-. Both latter classification apply to the forms that do not contain the command prefix e-, which are singled out in a separate category first.
The Functional System (4.2) provides functional categories that reflect the effects of the formal properties. It has three major parts: a classification for mood, three for person of subject as characterized above, and one branch with sub-classifications for the forms of transitive verbs where the categories Reflexive, Reciprocal and the three specific object-person-classifications belong to.
The core of the analysis is the system link detailed and explained in Section 4.3. By way of examples it is shown step by step how the functional categorization(s) of a form is or are determined by the system link based on its formal properties. The main part of the paper is completed (4.4) by first general observations about an integrational description of inflectional units, both morphological (usually affixes) and syntactic (auxiliaries) ones.
The last two sections are of a more formal character and expand the theory in order to provide means for a formal description of the effects of inflectional units, which are more formally identified in Section 5.1. The informal discussion of an inflectional affix, re- (a 'second person singular prefix') in Section 5.2 prepares the ground for a formal reconstruction of the notions used to describe the effects that can be ascribed to this affix. The first major notion needed is that of (an inflectional unit) 'being contained' (in a word form), defined for arbitrary inflectional units in Section 5.3.
Relations of 'being contained' are the basis for formally defining categories of word forms that contain individual inflectional units (6.1), for instance the category [re-formpre(-,S)], the set of verb forms that contain an allomorph of the prefix re-. Elements of the system link where such formal categories occur are marking-pairs for the relevant inflectional unit (6.2), and the subset of the system link that are marking pairs of the unit is its marking-content. It is their marking content that is the basis for a (also lexicographical) description of inflectional units.
Section 6.3 provides the concept of a marking effect of an inflectional unit and several related notions such as 'co-condition' and 'unconditional marking effect', which serve to discuss typologically relevant facts such as whether a language has many specific inflectional affixes (one indication for the agglutinative language type) or many specific auxiliaries (related to the isolating language type) of few specific inflectional units at all (may be the case of most languages of the traditional inflectional type).