Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Institute of Chinese Linguistics
Language Information Sciences Research Centre
Michigan State University
Diminutive Er Affixation in Jinxiang, Yanggu and Pingding
Time: 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Date: 15th November 2002 (Friday)
Venue: B7603 (CTL Multi-purpose Room), City University of Hong Kong
In most Chinese dialects, a diminutive er suffix appears as a separate
syllable, or as the coda consonant or an additional feature of the rime in the
affixed stem (Lin 1997). Diminutive er affixation in Jinxiang, Yanggu and
Pinding is different in that a complex onset can be created in the affixed
stem, which seems to suggest that infixation is involved, as the following
examples show. ([L] = retroflex lateral)
Jinxiang (Ma 1984) na --> nrar 'stitch, press down'
Yanggu (Dong 1985) tsou --> tslour 'go, walk'
Pingding (Xu 1981) tsao --> tsLao 'plum'
In this talk, I will compare and discuss the prosodic and segmental constraints
on the er-affixed stems in these three dialects, and address the
analytical and theoretical issues raised by the data.
The first issue concerns whether or not these are genuine cases of infixation.
The Yanggu case is controversial since it has been analyzed as floating
feature infixation by Yip (1992) and as phonological epenthesis by Chen (1992).
I will argue that Jinxiang does not involve infixation but Pingding does.
If we assume that Yanggu and Pingding involve morphological infixation, then
such infixation is unusual in that it results in highly marked prosodic
structures that do not exist in the phonological systems of these two dialects
and in other Chinese dialects. McCarthy and Prince (1995ab) have argued that
there are no real infixes, and the so-called infixes are prefixes or suffixes
that are minimally misaligned from the edge of the stem to avoid violations of
higher ranked markedness constraints. In other words, infixation applies to
avoid marked structures. Yanggu and Pingding infixation then seems to
constitute a counterexample to McCarthy and Prince's characterization of the
nature of infixation. I will (i) demonstrate that prosodic, segmental, and
morphological factors can all be involved in determining the implementation
of infixation (Crowhurst 1998, Klein 2002, Yu 2002), and (ii) discuss how
McCarthy and Prince's original insight might be maintained.
About the Speaker
Yen-Hwei Lin is Professor of Linguistics at Michigan State
University. She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University
of Texas at Austin in 1989, and has taught at MSU since then. Her
research work has focused on non-linear phonology and morphology,
optimality theory, and Chinese segmental phonology/morphology.
All Are Welcome