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The essence of ’word’

posted on 2021-10-10, 23:56 authored by Alexandra AikhenvaldAlexandra Aikhenvald, Robert DixonRobert Dixon, Nathan M White
’Word’ is a kingpin for every language, providing a bridge between grammar and phonology. Pick any word, from dictionary or discourse. It will have a meaning. It will also have a grammatical characterization-a morphological structure and a syntactic function. And it will also have a phonological characterization-a phonotactic make-up determining its boundaries, its length, and its other properties as a pronounceable unit. Numerous linguists have assumed that ’word’ is a-or ’the’ -basic unit of language and of linguistic analysis (a brief history of the notion of word throughout the recent history of linguistics and its treatment is in Dixon and Aikhenvald 2002a: 1-10). The notion of’word’ covers a number of interrelated concepts. A ’phonological word’ as a minimally pronounceable unit is recognized on phonological criteria. A ’grammatical word’ is recognized on exclusively grammatical-morphological and syntacticprinciples. The study of words and word classes in Yokuts, by Newman (1967: 182-3), begins with lists of phonological and grammatical features of’words’, with an explicit statement that ’morphological criteria serve to supplement the phonological features for delimiting the unit "word"’. In the majority of instances, grammatical and phonological criteria come together to create ’word’.



Aikhenvald AY; Dixon R; White NM

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Oxford University Press

Place of Publication

Oxford, UK

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

James Cook University

Author Research Institute

  • Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research

Era Eligible

  • Yes

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Phonological word and grammatical word: A cross-linguistic typology