jump to navigation

The Yaghnobi affix /i/ July 17, 2007

Posted by Bahrom in Phonology, Semantics, Syntax, Yaghnobi.

The affix /i/ in Yaghnobi appears to be highly polysemous. As a prefix, it can function as an indefinite aritcle, or as the number one (a common set of shared meanings cross lingustically). As a suffix, it can function as a marker for locative, genetive, nominative, or accusative (in perfective aspect) cases. It also appears on any noun that is preceded by a number, functions as a denominalizer, appears on nominal elements in complex predicates, and marks purpose on participles.

The intuition of all three of my language consultants was that /i/ is a single phoneme. Furthermore, in transcriptions of Yaghnobi texts done by other linguists, this morpheme was always transcribed the same way. Since it is so unusual for one phonological segment to have such a wide range of functions I wanted to be sure that this was really a single phoneme (yes, I know this word has been depricated, but how else would you epress this concept?). My language consultant usually interpreted this segment as [i], but sometimes he perceived it as [i:], or [e] so I made acoustic measurements of F1, F2, and vowel length of the /i/ affix uttered in sentences which had each of the different meanings or functions listed above. The results are available in this paper: The Yaghnobi i affix.

(This paper was also origianally an appendix to a longer paper on the Yaghonbi /i/ affix, as was the paper I posted on Yaghnobi Vowels.)

Disclaimer: This is just a preliminary study. The phonetic data presented here is all from one highly fluent language consultant (my teacher, Saifiddin Mirzoev). The grammatical analysis, however, is based on five different sources.

This post was updated 7/22/07


1. shaferain - July 21, 2007


The study you did is very interesting. I’m wondering whether the result of this recording is based on only a single subject? Maybe you’ll find a categorical distinction in different semantic environments with more subjects? If so, they are just different underlying form or the difference is caused by allomorph selection.


2. Bahrom - July 21, 2007

My analysis of the affix /i/ is based on data I collected from three different language consultants as well as data transcribed by my Yaghnobi language teacher (who was also my main consultant) from several of his informants. All together, the data I analyzed ammounts to about 1,150 sentences. About two thirds of the data is from elicited sentences and the rest is from traditional and personal narratives.

I didn’t understand what you meant by “a categorical distinction in different semantic environments”. Could you elaborate on that?

Thanks for your comments!


3. shaferain - July 22, 2007

Hi Brian,

In your paper you said that “it can be seen that the suffix /i/ tends to be more centralized, but also more widely scattered…” So, I think that maybe the data from one single subject would cause the scattering of the suffix /i/ like this. If you can find more subjects, maybe the result will show that the suffix /i/ with different semantics functions fall into different ‘phonological’ categories (represented by phonetic data, of course). I’m still not sure about whether you only have one subject in your study. If I missed or misunderstood something, please tell me. Thank you :D.


4. Bahrom - July 22, 2007

Thanks for the clarification. I only used data from one consultant for the phonetic study (the post previous to this one), but I used data from five different sources for my grammatical analysis of the /i/ affix (this post).

It isn’t apparent to my why you would expect phonetic data from one consultant to be more scattered (by “scattered” I meant that there was no correlation) accross semantic/grammatical functions of /i/ than the data from multiple consultants- unless this consultant spoke with an idiolect or dialect that didn’t differentiate the functions, while another consultant (perhaps from another village) might use a dialect that did differentiate the functions of /i/ phonetically.

I do agree that this is something I need to check. Data from one consultant isn’t enough to form a final conclusion.


5. shaferain - July 22, 2007

I guess I just misunderstood what you meant by ‘scattered’. But my point is that the cross-speaker variation sometimes just happens and therefore the more the subjects (from the same dialect) are, the stronger the result can be, as you conclude. Probably you’ll find some correlation then. Anyway, it’s an interesting preliminary study. I’m also interesting in phonology and phonetics so I came up a lot of questions. Hopefully I didn’t offend you :D.


6. Bahrom - July 22, 2007

I agree that a phonetic and phonological study of a wider range of informants needs to be done, I suspect that the result will be that no phonetic or phonological difference in the use of /i/ for different functions will be found. I base this on my informal experience with a number of other speakers of Yahgnobi. But of course, this is just an educated guess!

By the way, you haven’t even come close to giving offense. I’m used to frank, critical dialog in the academic community. I always welcome critique. It helps me sharpen my thinking and my writing.

7. shaferain - July 22, 2007

I would really like to know if you discover some facts about this in your following studies. You can also find me on my BLOG, which is just my user name in WordPress. Thank you for the discussion :D.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: