‘Neutering’ nominal infection in Pontic Greek

Karatsareas, P. 2010. ‘Neutering’ nominal infection in Pontic Greek. Workshop on Romeyka of Pontus. Queens’ College, Cambridge Mar 2010

Title‘Neutering’ nominal infection in Pontic Greek
AuthorsKaratsareas, P.
TypeConference poster
Abstract

The relation between grammatical gender and noun inflection in fusional languages has always been a matter of debate in morphological theory. Some morphologists give priority to gender over inflection (Corbett 1991) whereas others consider inflection to take precedence over gender (Aronoff 1994). This debated relation proves to be critical for the diachronic development of inflectional systems: in the history of Greek, for example, the relation between the two tends to become more transparent (Morpurgo Davies 1968; Coker 2009). This means that, in most instances, the way a noun inflects for some or all the cases is enough information for the speaker to infer that noun’s grammatical gender.

In this paper, I deal with a relevant case from the morphology of Pontic, namely the spread of the genitive singular and plural endings of i-neuters such as σπίτι(ν) ‘house’ to nouns belonging to other inflectional paradigms, both neuter, and masculine and feminine. The analysis of the dialect material shows how an array of linguistic factors was operative in this instance of language change:

(a) semantic factors such as animacy;
(b) morphological factors such as gender; and,
(c) phonological factors such as stress.

This spread had serious ramifications for the organisation of nouns into inflectional paradigms not only in Pontic but also in all Asia Minor Greek dialects, as it forms part of more extensive tendencies which render nouns more neuter-like in terms of their morphology and which are found in all the dialects of inner Asia Minor (Karatsareas 2010). However, while Pontic appears to exemplify a rather early stage in this process of inflectional neuterisation, the more advanced stages of the process are to be found in other dialects such as Cappadocian and the dialect of Phárasa.

References
Aronoff, Mark (1994). Morphology by itself: stems and inflectional classes. Cambridge, Mass. & London: MIT Press.

Coker, Amy (2009). Analogical change and grammatical gender in Ancient Greek. Journal of Greek Linguistics 9, 34-55.

Corbett, Greville (1991). Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Karatsareas, Petros (2010). Towards the ‘reconstruction’ of an Asia Minor Greek Koiné during Medieval times. Paper presented at the Language, Text and History: Linguistics and Philology in the 21st Century Symposium of the Philological Society, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, 19-20 March 2010.

Morpurgo Davies, Anna (1968). Gender and the development of the Greek declensions. Transactions of the Philological Society 67, 12-36.

Year2010
ConferenceWorkshop on Romeyka of Pontus
Accepted author manuscriptRomeyka_poster.pdf

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