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Theoretical Basis of the Analysis (CV Manual, Grammar)

    2.0 Theoretical Basis of the Analysis
     Under Phonology we have dealt with the meaningless functional sound units which are significant for the Chuvash language, called phonemes. These phonemes have certain individual phonetic realizations, or allophones, features predictable as occurring under given conditions. The study of such relation of sounds (phonemes) to one another, and their functional interrelationships is called phonemics.
     In dealing with words (or lexical units, or lexemes, that is, a form which goes to make up the lexicon or vocabulary of the language), we may also treat the component parts of words. The building blocks of “words“ which cannot be further reduced into meaningful forms are morphs. A morph is a minimal sequence of phonemes which has meaning (phonemes do not have meaning in isolation). A group of morphs which are semantically (and usually phonemically) similar can be classed as a morpheme, if the morphs are in complementary distribution (that is, if one never occurs where the other one does). The morph, then, is a concrete instance of one of “those things,“ whereas the morpheme is the abstraction of morphs as a class. If one variant of the class never occurs where another variant does, and vice versa, and if all variants obviously belong under the same general heading as regards their meaning and phonetic shape, then they go to make up members of the same class. For instance, three and thrice belong together, but three and trinity do not, although they all share a similar general meaning. Or, to put it differently, year and yearly go together, but yearly and annual do not, for our purposes.
     Allomorph is a term parallel to allophone, and is given to morphs or classes of morphs which belong to the same morpheme (or abstraction) and also have the same phonemic or morphophonemic form (which annual and yearly do not). For instance, s and es in English are allomorphs of the plural morpheme {s}: they both have identical meaning, and are in noncontrastive or com1ementary distribution: in short, s occurs after vowels, and es after consonants (speaking in terms of sounds, and not of spelling).
     It is sometimes (frequently, in the case of Chuvash) convenient to set up morphophonemes to cover the alternations in phonemes which a morpheme may undergo. These are written with capital letters to distinguish them from phonemes. In Chuvash, which employs vowel harmony, many morphemes or units of meaning have two (or more) forms, one used with back vowel words, the other with front vowel words, as the forms /-ra/ and /-re/, meaning ‘in.‘ These may be both subsumed under the morphophoneme capital A, meaning, /a/ with back vowels, and /e/ with front vowels hence, ‘in‘ = {-rA}.
    All lexical units or words are sequences of morphemes which function as a unit, but all morphemes are not necessarily words, although they have meaning. Thus /baker/ is composed of /bake/ and /-er/: the first is a word, and the second, although not a word, has a clear and definite meaning, roughly, that of “the man who performs the occupation of the preceding element.“ (In the preceding example, we have not used English phonemic writing.) Many, many other words may be analyzed in a similar way, yielding the component morphemes. These formative elements have been called by such names as stem, base, root, and suffix, inflection, ending. The first type are free morphemes, the second bound morphemes, because they occur only in composition with other morphemes. Chuvash employs the same principle of formation in creating words. Thus, we shall frequently speak of Chuvash morphemes, the constituent bases of words.
    If we wish to determine what different kinds of words there are, we must set up lexical classes (or “parts of speech“) according to their function, rather than by any arbitrary scheme perhaps not based on the true nature of Chuvash (or whatever language is being investigated). In Chuvash, there are two major form-classes of words, the nominal, or noun-like, and the verbal, or verb-like, plus a few minor classes such as particles, etc. The nominal, as the name implies, includes the nouns, or names of objects, persons, places and of material and abstract things in general, as well as pronominal subclasses (anaphoric referent forms), numerals, attributives (adjectives), postpositions. The verbal class contains verb morphemes, existing in various tenses and moods, together with morphemes of participial and ‘converbial‘ usage.
    The student of Chuvash (or of any foreign language) must remember that Chuvash words are not always, indeed seldom, the exact equivalents of their definitions in English words. In the case of simple material objects, the correspondence is by necessity probably exact, but what the Chuvash calls pürt can be translated house, as can Chuvash kil, yet they are rather different, and it would be necessary to give quite a few sentences over to explaining the range of meaning of just these two words. Likewise, the Chuvash would try to equate house to some word he already knows, with a similar confusion. Terms of relationship are also difficult to pin down, and the overtones of abstract words, with figurative and transferred meanings, are often very many. Still, through experience and careful study, the student will acquire some idea of the range of meaning Chuvash words have, and where they do and do not abut on the English meaning.
     The nature of the Chuvash substantive or noun is rather different from that of Western European languages. Although the class of Chuvash nominals may be divided by function into subclasses of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, numerals, etc., there is little or no difference between them on formal grounds. That is, one cannot tell the difference between a nominal used as a noun and a nominal used as an adjective. For instance, words denoting attributive qualities (colors, size, shape, form, condition, state, and so on) may occur in Chuvash either as nouns or as adjectives, e.g.‚:
chăn		true, truth, that which is true, truly
chăn sămah	a true word
chăn sutlarĕ	he calculated truly, correctly
tĕttĕm		dark, somber, darkness, darkly
tĕttĕm kaş	a dark evening
anchah		but, however, only
anchah kiltĕm	I just arrived
epĕ anchah	I alone

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Last edited by: reflejo, 2006-01-27 19:38:58. Views 10202.