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Morphology: auxiliaries

  1. Nov 11, 2005 #1

    honestrosewater

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    In case my luck is changing and anyone out there can help... I'm looking for some guidance in analyzing auxiliary verbs. Some of them seem to be complex, but it isn't obvious what their constituents should be. (It seems like some of them could even be considered forms of others.) Perhaps any constituent morphemes would have to be inflectional, so I should try some frames. Heh, I'm not even sure whether auxiliaries should be considered bound or free. They're really causing me problems. :yuck:
     
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  3. Nov 11, 2005 #2

    Astronuc

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  4. Nov 11, 2005 #3

    honestrosewater

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    Hm, no, but thanks for trying. :smile: I'm trying to figure out whether each (English) auxiliary is simple (containing exactly one morpheme) or complex (containing more than one morpheme). And if any are complex, I want to analyze them, figure out the meaning of their grammatical morphemes, and lay out any paradigms. They're just giving me a headache for some reason.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2005
  5. Nov 14, 2005 #4

    Astronuc

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    Each of the aux verbs seem to be single linquistic units and are not further reducible.

    Could, should, would, must, shall and will need another verb, otherwise they don't make sense. If one said, "I will" - then will what?

    The conjugations of to have are interesting because it is stand alone. I have (object) means to possess (object), and I have to (verb) means 'must'.

    Linguistics and language analysis are not my bailiwick, although I am interested in the nuances of languages (e.g. how languages use prepositions with respect to verbs and nouns which make literal translations difficult sometimes).

    Good luck. :smile:
     
  6. Nov 14, 2005 #5

    loseyourname

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    So how far have you gotten? What are all of the auxiliary verbs you can think of? All of Astronuc's are single-morpheme and I cannot think of any that are not. The definition of auxiliary verb contains this list (from English plus):

    These are all single-morpheme; however, their negations are not. That is one thing that you should note, because there are languages that use single-morpheme negative verb-forms.
     
  7. Nov 17, 2005 #6

    honestrosewater

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    Sorry, I've been slacking, I'm not sure what all you guys know, and I can't think straight, so this is rather random blah...

    Why do you guys think those "words" that function as auxiliaries should be considered simple? That's the main thing that I'm trying to decide -- whether they're functioning at the morpheme or phrase level. And I need justifications. (Actually, complex auxiliaries do exist; be, have, and do are still inflected for tense and agreement when functioning as auxiliaries, so excepting those cases...) For example, the first thing I need to determine is whether they are words. I think there existing (AFAIK) no syntactic rule that applies to any of their "parts", their being inverted to form questions, and their preceding negation are good reasons to consider them words. I'm not sure whether those reasons are good enough, but I'm willing to just assume for now that they're words.

    I next need to decide several things, in whichever order works (and there isn't necessarily a best answer): Is each word simple or complex? Are each of their morphemes free or bound? Lexical or grammatical? If grammatical, are they derivational or inflectional? What does each morpheme mean? Are any of them forms of others? Are the forms regular or irregular? Are there subregularities? And possibly other questions, depending on what the other answers are.

    Some problems:

    Since they're words, if they're simple, they're free. But the modals, at least, also seem to be inflectional in some cases, and I'm not sure that a morpheme can be both free and inflectional, i.e., whether that makes sense or would cause problems, etc. For instance, the modals (AFAIK) aren't inflected for tense or agreement, but they seem be tensed; so are they themselves the inflectional morphemes?

    Is could (in some environments) the simple past form of can (in one of its meanings), or is that just a part of the general meaning of could? Is will/shall (in one of their meanings) some kind of future tense of do (in one of its functions)? In which theories does English have a future tense? Why / why not? And so on.

    Modals have non-modal interpretations. Primaries, will, need, and possibly others are also main verbs. do is just extra weird.

    Semi-auxiliary phrases.

    Blah. Sorry. :frown: It just keeps getting complicated so quickly that my progress is incredibly slow, and I feel as though I'm missing something important (that would make it all simple).
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2005
  8. Nov 17, 2005 #7

    honestrosewater

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    Cool, I actually found an answer to something -- and in my book, of all places. :surprised They consider will/shall to be the future tense morpheme (or rather, the usual allomorphs of the future tense morpheme). Actually, that just makes things odder, but at least it makes some sense. So I'm thinking that future will/shall is simple -- a grammatical root. Rock on.

    Ooh, and maybe do and does are allomorphs of the present tense... or something like that. I wonder whether a grammatical root can be inflected (for other features). It boggles the mind. :tongue2:

    Yeah, I think do,does/?,-s -- did/-ed -- will/shall could be very interesting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2005
  9. Nov 17, 2005 #8

    Astronuc

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    hrw, your studies of languages are outside of my experience, and I have had no formal study in this area. Nevertheless, I am curious about the meaning of language.

    I'll get back to this later.
     
  10. Nov 17, 2005 #9

    honestrosewater

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    Don't sweat it. Sorry, I didn't mean to be a pain. :smile: I was majorly skipping ahead anyway because shall happened to show up in a sentence in an unrelated exercise, and it caught my interest. Heh, I skip around a lot. I really do appreciate you guys' help. And if there's anything you're curious about, just ask -- I'd be happy to try to explain or learn with you. (I think I understand much of this better than it might seem; I was super frustrated by these darn auxiliaries.) If you'd like, I'll post some good linguistics links I've come across. Thanks again.
     
  11. Nov 19, 2005 #10

    Astronuc

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    hrw, I did not think of you as being a pain. I just found your OP of interest and decided to contribute what little I could. :smile:

    Have you seen this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auxiliary_verbs

    I certainly don't know enough about the subject of linguistics to know what to ask at this point. I'll just sit back and watch. :smile:

    BTW, how your not-smoking going?
     
  12. Nov 21, 2005 #11

    honestrosewater

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    Yes, thanks, I usually do check wiki. If you're still interested, http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook/box-modals.html explains one way of categorizing auxiliaries (or auxiliaries and modals, if you make that distinction). At least I'm not completely incompetent -- it really is rather complicated. I haven't gotten around to analyzing them yet (this is skipping ahead stuff, after all), but I just realized that when they take non-finite verbs, they must contain the necessary inflectional morphemes in order to form complete, grammatical sentences. For example,

    (1a) I talked yesterday.
    (1b) I did talk yesterday.


    In (1a), talked is inflected for tense, the morph being -ed. But this morpheme moves to the auxiliary in (1b). Does the same happen with the other auxiliaries and modals? Perhaps you could also posit unmarked or zero morphs, make the exception that not all sentences must contain at least one finite verb, change what counts as a finite verb, or look at it yet another way (e.g. auxiliary did is itself the past tense of auxiliary do). I guess it depends on how you state the other rules, whether you want to add exceptions to them, what the evidence supports, etc., and I need to look at other examples. So hm, still going slowly...
    Wonderfully. I think it will be a month on the 27th. Woohoo!! :biggrin:


    ______
    (Edit: Eh, I came up with better examples but haven't examined them enough yet. I should have new ideas soon.) But consider these modals and where they work: can, shall, will, could, should, would, may, might, must.

    We _____ dance all night.
    We _____ have danced all night.
    We _____ be dancing all night.
    We _____ have been dancing all night.

    When we were younger, we _____ dance all night.
    When we were younger, we _____ have danced all night.
    When we were younger, we _____ be dancing all night.
    When we were younger, we _____ have been dancing all night.

    If we were younger, we _____ dance all night.
    If we were younger, we _____ have danced all night.
    If we were younger, we _____ be dancing all night.
    If we were younger, we _____ have been dancing all night.

    At the party, we _____ dance all night.
    At the party, we _____ have danced all night.
    At the party, we _____ be dancing all night.
    At the party, we _____ have been dancing all night.

    Come morning, we _____ dance all night.
    Come morning, we _____ have danced all night.
    Come morning, we _____ be dancing all night.
    Come morning, we _____ have been dancing all night.

    When we are older, we _____ dance all night.
    When we are older, we _____ have danced all night.
    When we are older, we _____ be dancing all night.
    When we are older, we _____ have been dancing all night.


    So the suggestion that these modals contain information about tense, or are tensed, isn't so straightforward (just like everything else about auxiliaries and modals). On the bright side, I'm just reading about something called grammaticalization, which I think could help me make sense of this. Here is a paper (it's rather old, but whatever) if anyone wants to check it out; it's interesting so far.

    Now that I think of it, there's no reason for the ambiguity to be a problem -- natural language doesn't have to be unambiguous. Doh!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2005
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