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Where corpus methods hit their limits: the case of separable adjectives in Bambara

Abstract : Separable adjectives represent a morphosyntactic subcategory of the part of speech of adjectives in Bambara (< Manding < Mande < Niger-Congo, Mali, West Africa). A separable adjective is a compound lexeme consisting of a noun root designating most often a body part, a qualitative verb root and a connector -la- ~ -lan- or -ma- ~ -man-. When used predicatively, the final component of a separable adjective (the qualitative verb root) is split from the rest of the form by the auxiliary word ka or man. Separable adjectives express mainly human qualities (moral or physical), and their semantics are very often idiomatic. The productivity of this subclass is limited. In order to establish an inventory of the separable adjectives, two approaches have been followed: elicitation and a search in the Bambara Reference Corpus (which included roughly 4,110,000 words at the time of this study). The potentially imaginable number of lexemes of this type equals 570 (15 noun roots x 19 qualitative verb roots x 2 connectors). Elicitation provided 75 separable adjectives, and the corpus study, 25, 3 of which are absent from the elicitated list. This experiment proves that in studies of derivative morphology, when a linguist needs to fill out a matrix, elicitation cannot simply be replaced by a corpus study. On the other hand, the corpus data provides invaluable supplementary data that cannot be obtained through elicitation
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 3:59:13 PM
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Valentin Vydrin. Where corpus methods hit their limits: the case of separable adjectives in Bambara. Rhema, Moscow State University of Education, 2018, ⟨10.31862/2500-2953-2018-4-34-49⟩. ⟨halshs-02011349⟩

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