I have to bite the bullet now and decide how to interlinearise my Bardi examples in the grammar. Most of my corpus isn’t interlinearised. I don’t need it, and I’ve been avoiding this for a while because there’s no good solution that I can see. These are the issues:
- rampant post-affixal morphophonology (harmony, epenthesis, etc) which obscures prefix boundaries and which makes segmentation arbitrary
- prefix-root interactions
- long-distance allomorphic conditioning
- null roots
- secondary morphological exponence
First up in this list is vowel harmony. It’s not nice Turkish-like harmony, it’s a messy sytem that’s got a bunch of unprincipled exceptions. inoonggoonboon shows it, but inamboona doesn’t, for example. In the Laves collection, there’s ingarroogoolina ‘they broke it’, Modern Bardi ingoorroogooloona. The harmony affects epenthetic vowels too. Epenthetic vowels trigger deletion of certain segments (there was a historical sound change that deleted a number of intervocalic consonants). One of the deleted consonants was /w/, and it happens that the Proto-Nyulnyulan for ‘give’ was *wa. In Bardi this ends up as a null verb root. In other cases, the epenthesis is the only relic of the morpheme (that’s what I mean by secondary exponence here). inamarran is ‘(s)he was cooking it’ and inmarran is ‘(s)he’s cooking it’. The a in the past form is probably epenthetic. In a verb like ingoorrooloonganirr, we could divide the form i-ng-oorr-oo-loonga-n=irr, i-ng-oorr-ooloonga-n=irr, i-ng-oorr-oo-loong-an=irr, and probably other divisions too. The root is underlyingly –jooloonga-, with the first /u/ conditioning harmony and the /j/ deleting following the transitivity marker a-.
All these difficulties in segmentation might lead us to give schematic glossing only. Ingoorrooloongan=irr could be glossed as ‘collect.3augS.pst.tr-3augO’. But to do that would be to deny the pretty obvious segmentation for a large part of the lexicon. Inyjalgoon ‘(s)he fell’, for example, is straightforwardly i-ny-jalgoo-n. Ilamanka ‘3sg/3pl is listening’ is ambiguously 3sg or 3pl, and the sound rule that produces that is regular and found elsewhere. The segmentation problems are localised, but they are fairly frequent. So, not to segment (or to show only major morpheme boundaries) would be to overlook what is a pretty regular system overall.
One solution is to ‘unpack’ the morphemes a bit. For ingoorrooloonganirr, the verb could be glossed as follows:
That would make it easier to analyse the morphemes (which is, after all, the point of interlinearisation) but does abstract away from the surface form. That doesn’t worry me too much for verbs like this.
I did this in my PhD, and it produced unreadable sentences. It crams the verbs full of abbreviations and makes the grammar pretty hard to use. It also gets a bit abstract for some other verbs, and it raises questions about how much to ‘undo’. For instance, the /ŋ/ past tense marker assimilates to a following stop (cf inyjalgoon above); should that be represented with ng? How about the lenition of b > w in iwirrilin 3sg-flying? Should I just add back deleted segments and leave the rest? That would make my example verb look like this:
I’m leaning towards the following at present:
- Some version of ‘unpacking’ for chapters where it’s crucial to know what the morphemes are.
- Clitic boundaries marked always
- Schematic glossing for examples where the full morphemic splitting would obscure the point. In the chapter on particles, for example, for an example like arranga maalanirr irr “without seeing them”, the important point is that arranga means ‘without’ and that it can occur with a gerund; it’s not important that the gerund’s structure is ma-jala-n=irr GER-see-GER=3AUG.DO.
I’m worrying about this for two main reasons. One is, of course, the grammar itself needs to be consistent and usable for non-Nyulnyulanists, since there are only two of us. I’d like other people to be able to read it without spending a year or so internalising Bardi verb morphology. The other reason is that if this grammar is going to be at all useful to Bardi people, the examples need to be readable and interpretable. It’s aimed at an academic audience, that’s why there’s a learner’s guide aimed at teachers and community members, but I have the feeling that if the glossing system is completely opaque it’ll be completely unusable, whereas if the examples can be followed more or less it should be possible to get some use out of it. Otherwise, I might as well use a different orthography too.
If you’re still reading, I’d welcome comments.