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Puzzle linguistics

.10  Persian Morpheme Identification 1 Linguistic Puzzle Write Up


For this week’s ‘linguistic puzzle’ assignment, present the data from the ‘Persian Morpheme Identification’ exercise according to the LSA guidelines as stated on the LSA website. Pay attention to the details. 

Here is an example of how to present the language data from this exercise, following LSA style guidelines:

(1)   Mæn   mi-xun- æm

I           prog[1]-read-1sg

                  ‘I am reading.’

(2)   ʃ oma         ketab   mi-xun-in

you (sg.)    book    prog-read-2 sg

                  ‘You (sg.) are reading a book.’


(1)   Since these first two sentences have been done for you, no need to repeat them. Start with the third sentence. Include your translation of the sentence listed under B (‘You aren’t reading it’), Sentence (9) in section D and the sentence under E.  That makes a total of 8 sentences.  Every sentence should be presented following LSA guidelines.

(2)   Try to use conventional names for the inflectional affixes that you have identified. Do the best you can in that respect but feel free to make up a name if you have to. You should be able to find relevant information about various types of inflectional affixes in your textbook pp.168-173.

(3)   I also recommend that you access an issue of the journal ‘Language’ online. Look for an article that includes the representation of data from a language other than English and that includes morpho-syntactic data. Seeing an example is perhaps even more helpful than reading the instructions. You can access ‘Language’ through the CSUN Library. Project Muse has many issues of this journal available in PDF format so that you can see the original formatting in the print version. (And you don’t need to understand the article or even read it.)

(4)   Create your paragraph in a WORD document and attach it to the ‘Linguistic Puzzle Write Up’ prompt.  This will allow you to preserve your layout in the submission.

(5)   To represent IPA symbols, you may cut and paste the symbols that you need from the following handy website:


Why do it? While there is most certainly some variation in how linguists represent data, it is an excellent exercise to try to follow one style consistently for a brief text. It will not only improve your own future writing when you discuss language data, but it will also help you understand the representation of language data by other linguists.


Here is another, unrelated example from the Hungarian Language Data that can also be found on course reserves. Here the data are incorporated in part of a (pretend) article:

Consider the following examples from Hungarian containing the adjective magas ‘tall’:[2]

(1)   a.  Mi magas-ak vagy-unk.

     we tall-pl         be-1pl

                  We are tall.’

b.  Te             magas vagy.

     you (sg.)  tall       be

                  ‘You (sg.) are tall.’

A comparison of the two realizations of ‘tall’ reveals that –ak in 1a must mark plural agreement between adjective and verb. This analysis is confirmed in 2a but not in 2b below:

(2)   a.  Magas-ak vagy-unk.



     tall-pl           be-1pl

                  We are tall.’

b.  Ti               nagyon  magas  vagy-tok.

      you (pl.)   very       tall        be-2pl

                  You( pl.) are very tall.’

Other data confirm that my original analysis of –ak as a plural agreement marker is correct. –ak also appears with the adjective lankadt ‘weary’ when the subject is plural as the following data demonstrate…




[1] In glosses 1sg = first person singular, prog = Progressive Tense

[2] In glosses pl = plural, 2pl = second person plural


[1] In glosses pl = plural, 2pl = second person plural

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