Disputatio:Affixum

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Iacobe, what do you mean by saying "Affixum est res, non nomen"? I must say I fail to understand in what respect the change you made is an amelioration. And are you sure the Latin is ok in the present formulation? --Neander 17:13, 27 Septembris 2009 (UTC)

It's "An affix is any of several. . . ." vs. "An affix is the name of any of several. . . ." Lexicons usually define things, not the names of things. (Granted that nouns are generally the names of things.) It'd be really silly if the pattern of our definitions took the shape of "Napoleon is the name of a man who. . . ." and "Rome is the name of a city that. . . ." Let's define the things, not their names! ¶ The Latin could of course be shaky. ;) IacobusAmor 17:58, 27 Septembris 2009 (UTC)
An ostensive definition¨consists of res. But basically, a lexical and theoretical definition consists of signs (definiens) designed to explain the meaning of some other sign (definiendum). Your examples involving Napoleon and Rome are tantamount to changing the subject of conversation. The article on affixum is supposed to show the hyperonymic relation by which the concept 'affixum' is mapped to other concepts such as suffixum, praefixum, etc. Do you really disagree or think that concepts are res? /// I understand that it's an everyday speech shorthand to say that lexicons define things, but this kind of syntactic sugar isn't a good reason to jettison my definition (unless, of course, you show that my definition was conceptually wrong). --Neander 21:31, 27 Septembris 2009 (UTC)
For the record: yes, I think I conceive of concepts as things, plain old res. It might be revelatory to find out how far that conception can be pushed! IacobusAmor 12:25, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)
Conceptually, it should be an article about affixes, not about the word 'affix'—the latter is what Victionarium is for. The English Wikipedia makes this mistake a lot—so many articles have "etymology" sections, for example—but this is not information about the thing itself (for example, information about the word doesn't generally translate well to other languages). Obviously it's not wrong to say an affix is a name for something, but it suggests a different approach than the one an encyclopedia is attempting. —Mucius Tever 01:22, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)
An ostensive definition is more restrictive than what you indicate; it is a definition where the meaning is conveyed by pointing out examples, rather than by a verbal description. Colors are typically defined ostenstively, e.g. via a picture.
I think the original "Affixum est nomen generale omnium morphematum grammaticalium" ="Affix is the general name of all grammatical morphemes" does suggest that the article is going to be about the name affix and its history and perhaps alternative names, rather than about affixes per se. The new version "Affixum est quodlibet omnium morphematum grammaticalium quae..." ="Affix is whichever of all grammatical morphemes, which..." seems a strange formulation: why all?. I would think the idea intended would be closer to "Affixum est quodquam morphema grammaticale quod..." ="An affix is whatever grammatical morpheme which.." Anyhow, I think the intent is to switch the focus of the lemma to the idea of an affix, rather than the name "affix". Which I agree is a good thing.--Rafaelgarcia 02:03, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)
The omnium was left over from a previous recension and should have been changed, perhaps to nonnullorum. A standard way of doing this in English dictionaries is "X is any of several Ys that," giving us here "An affix is any of several grammatical morphemes that." (For plenty of nouns, this is reducible to the pattern exemplified in "An affix is a grammatical morpheme that.") Several alternatives to "any of several" exist. For example, a stinkbug is "any of various true bugs (order Hemiptera) that emit a disagreeable odor"; and an ant is "any of a family (Formicidae) of colonial hymenopterous insects with a complex social organization and various castes performing special duties." Part of the reason for these formulations must be that lemmata are ordinarily singular; therefore, the formulation "Affixes are grammatical morphemes that" is inappropriate. IacobusAmor 12:23, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)

My formulation, by now superseded by Iacobus's, wasn't too felicitous. The definition I was out for was, by and large, this: Affixum est nomen commune omnia morphemata grammaticalia complexa, quae per agglutinationem ad radicem aut stirpem lexicalem adduntur. I was stressing the "nomen commune" aspect, because the raison d'être of the term affix is that it denotes a group of (bound-)morpheme types. But perhaps my approach was too "metalinguistic" or something? On the other hand, I don't know if my definition is radically different from those given in some respectable textbooks. For example, having briefly defined the terms free morpheme, bound morpheme, root, suffix, prefix, Andrew Radford (et alii) proceed to say "The general term covering suffixes and prefixes is affix (Linguistics. An introduction, 1999: 163; original emphasis). Victoria Fromkin et al. say: "Prefixes and suffixes are included in the class of affixes" (Linguistics. An Introduction to Linguistic Theory, 2001: 28; original emphasis). Leonard Bloomfield in his famous Language says as follows: "The bound forms which in secondary derivation are added to the underlying form, are called affixes (1933/1984: 218), the "underlying form" being a cover term for roots and stems.

If Radford et al.'s equative sentence is flip-flopped, we'd get "Affix is the general term covering suffixes and prefixes." "Affixum est terminus technicus, qui suffixa et praefixa complectitur." Or generalising a bit: "Affixum est terminus technicus, qui omnia morphemata grammaticalia complectitur, quae per agglutinationem ad radicem aut stirpem lexicalem adligantur." Would that do the job? --Neander 14:31, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)

That might work, but you'd want (in American style, at least) to italicize Affix—because the sentence is referring to the word affix, not to any object represented by the word. (You're referring to the word affix, not to an affix.) That's possibly why it takes emphasis in the linguistic texts you cite. Compare: "An ant is any of numerous insects" and "Ant is the name of any of numerous insects." IacobusAmor 14:41, 28 Septembris 2009 (UTC)