Max Planck Institute
for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Linguistics

Typological tools for field linguistics


Clitic questionnaire

The purpose of the questionnaire is to gather comparable basic information about a range of clitic phenomena in some European languages. The clitic questionnaire is divided into five parts which contain questions about different topics related to clitics. It starts with questions about some general properties of the language under discussion (section 1), it continues with questions about the categorial status of clitics (section 2), special properties of clitics (section 3), the position a clitic occupies in the clause (section 4), and it ends with questions concerning the possible movement of clitics (section 5).

Some problems surfaced which were noted by the authors concerning the interpretations of the questions themselves as well as of the phenomena observed. The questions were formulated in terms of a specific framework which was not, however, shared to the same extent by all the informants. Some informants lack any generative linguistic background, while on the other hand, some informants give their data following previous research not necessarily compatible with the approaches of the others. The ambiguity of interpretation of the questions is therefore sometimes compounded by further ambiguity in the answers.

The questionnaire which follows provides not only the questions asked, but also the consultants answers. Many of the consultants are well known linguists, and the answers given by different consultants for the same language are identified by name.

Description (by the author of the questionnaire): This questionnaire is not intended to be even nearly exhaustive. It is simply a list of some suggestions from my own fieldwork as to what I have found useful. It is not really for beginners, however. I intend it to serve as a framework, a useful prod, for writing detailed phonologies of languages, something missing from most grammars (though the detailed phonologies of the OUP x series, edited by Jacques Durand is a useful model). Like all questionnaires, as Nikolaus Himmelmann has pointed out to me, this one has the disadvantage of asserting categories when in fact many of the categories themselves need to be argued for and established independently. So it certainly isn't meant to be followed slavishly. Hopefully, however, it will provide useful suggestions for the 'phonologically challenged' fieldworker.

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Developed by
Riet Vos

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