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Proper name-marking via 'liaison' in French


Pomino, Natascha; Stark, Elisabeth (2019). Proper name-marking via 'liaison' in French. Language typology and universals, 72(4):627-652.

Abstract

The liaison consonant [z] in French noun phrases has traditionally been assumed to function as a plural marker. The realization of “plural [z]” in N(oun)-A(djective)-combinations is becoming, however, very rare in naturalistic data – except for contexts which allow a proper-name reading. On the one hand, one might think that we are dealing with a recent phenomenon, the beginning of a potential linguistic change in French in the sense of exaptation, reuse of former morphophonological material such as plural markers to signal proper-namehood in the sense of ‘frozen morphology’. If this turns out correct, we expect the productivity of the new synchronic function to increase: New NA-combinations which function as proper names should be realized systematically with liaison, and proper name-marking via liaison should also become possible with other liaison consonants. On the other hand, we may be dealing with a (completed) diachronic process, in that only those NA-combinations which allowed liaison at the relevant point in time may have a liaison consonant in their univerbalized form. That is, new NA-combinations, even though they are used as proper names, do not display a liaison consonant, because liaison is no longer possible. The purpose of this paper was to investigate, based on empirical studies, whether liaison productively marks NA-combinations which function as proper names and distinguishes them from NA-combinations that count as common nouns, or whether we are dealing with a completed diachronic process. In view of the poor productivity observed, we argue that we are dealing with cases of univerbation.

Abstract

The liaison consonant [z] in French noun phrases has traditionally been assumed to function as a plural marker. The realization of “plural [z]” in N(oun)-A(djective)-combinations is becoming, however, very rare in naturalistic data – except for contexts which allow a proper-name reading. On the one hand, one might think that we are dealing with a recent phenomenon, the beginning of a potential linguistic change in French in the sense of exaptation, reuse of former morphophonological material such as plural markers to signal proper-namehood in the sense of ‘frozen morphology’. If this turns out correct, we expect the productivity of the new synchronic function to increase: New NA-combinations which function as proper names should be realized systematically with liaison, and proper name-marking via liaison should also become possible with other liaison consonants. On the other hand, we may be dealing with a (completed) diachronic process, in that only those NA-combinations which allowed liaison at the relevant point in time may have a liaison consonant in their univerbalized form. That is, new NA-combinations, even though they are used as proper names, do not display a liaison consonant, because liaison is no longer possible. The purpose of this paper was to investigate, based on empirical studies, whether liaison productively marks NA-combinations which function as proper names and distinguishes them from NA-combinations that count as common nouns, or whether we are dealing with a completed diachronic process. In view of the poor productivity observed, we argue that we are dealing with cases of univerbation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:Liaison, plural inflection, proper names, French, adjective position, univerbation
Language:English
Date:7 November 2019
Deposited On:05 Dec 2019 13:28
Last Modified:26 Jan 2022 23:12
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:1867-8319
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/stuf-2019-0024
Related URLs:https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/stuf.2019.72.issue-4/issue-files/stuf.2019.72.issue-4.xml (Publisher)

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