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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24880

Title: Query-based Annotation and the Sumerian Verbal Prefixes
Authors: Smith, Eric
Advisor: Cowper, Elizabeth
Hirst, Graeme
Department: Linguistics
Keywords: Sumerian
internal aspect
corpus linguistics
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2010
Abstract: The study of Sumerian has traditionally been carried out in isolation from mainstream linguis- tics, thus limiting our ability to understand the language and to situate it in a cross-linguistic context. This dissertation shows how the tools of corpus linguistics and modern syntactic the- ory can be gainfully applied to Sumerian. Existing corpora of Sumerian texts are largely lacking in morphological annotation, with query facilities consisting only of basic string searches. Two existing corpora (one completely unannotated and one tagged for part-of-speech) are given morphological annotation using a process of query-based annotation. A query language (based on CQL and XPath) is used to query this corpus, and as queries are made, the results are tagged so that the resultant query objects can be used as the basis for subsequent queries. In this fashion a morphologically- annotated corpus is built up without having to rely on the services of a skilled annotator. This annotated corpus is then used to provide evidence for two important problems in Sumerian morphosyntax: the dimensional prefixes and the conjugation prefixes. The dimen- sional prefixes, which have previously been considered to represent concord between the verb and the associated nominal phrases, are shown instead to be a system of applicative heads which serve to introduce the verb’s arguments. The conjugation prefixes, whose purpose has been the subject of a century of debate, are shown to be the manifestation of inner aspect features which express the speaker’s perspective on the structure of the event. By using a corpus to provide the underlying data and by considering Sumerian morphosyntax in light of cross-linguistic evidence and modern syntactic theory, previously misanalysed aspects of Sumerian are shown to have analogues in other languages. The dimensional prefixes and conjugation prefixes are not oddities specific to Sumerian, but represent variations on morphological systems found elsewhere.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24880
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Linguistics - Doctoral theses

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