The modern academic grammar – ”Gramatica de bază a limbii române” (
Keywords: Mark(er)morphemeclass of wordsarticlemorphologysyntax
The academic grammar GBLR (2010) makes intensive use of the term ‘mark(er)’, within various contexts. Most of them refer to the grammatical meaning of the term and various types are described: synthetic, analytical and mixed marking; ‘visible’ vs ‘absent’ (zero) mark(er)s; lexical, grammatical and mixed mark(er)s etc. However, in the description of the
Which are the types of grammatical ‘mark(er)s’, as described by the GBLR?
Are all the so-called grammatical ‘mark(er)s’ just morphemes and is their description non-contradictory?
If the answer to the previous question is negative, is the term ‘mar(er)’ accurate, relevant and sufficient in order to describe the corresponding linguistic facts in the Romanian language?
Purpose of the Study
On the one hand, our aim is to describe and investigate the multiple meaning in the usage of the term mark(er)’ in GBLR (2010). Furthermore, we intend to prove that its unspecific use in describing the Romanian language (at the level of its morphology and syntax) proves to be rather controversial; moreover, that the labelling of a specific language fact by this mere term can be both confusing and specious. On the other hand, we want to demonstrate that more accuracy and less ambiguity are still needed in order to clarify certain particularities of the Romanian language and grammar. The bare changes in both concepts and terminology, as modern as they might seem, are not valid unless the context that motivates them is carefully considered.
Our linguistic research is based on a mixed method, both qualitative and quantitative, which includes a survey of current issues in the specific field, the grounded theory, as well as an analytic approach to GBLR (2010). The narrative analysis follows the text mark-up, the observation and interpretation, all with special reference to the specific of the Romanian language and Grammar.
Types of grammatical mark(er)s
There are several grammatical mark(er)s described in GBLR. A first category includes the
Moreover, the grammatical morphemes, those bearing a grammatical meaning, include the
Up to this point, one preliminary conclusion is undeniable. The articles are grammatical morphemes, and so is ‘
Even without any further investigations, which are to be discussed in further researches, another preliminary conclusion is necessary: the term ‘mark(er)’ (with or without being specified as ‘grammatical’!) stands for grammatical morphemes, rather close to the ‘empty morphemes’ (Spencer, 1991), that is it may be understood as an
Yet, all these are… mark(er)s! Whereas all of them are described as grammatical, some of them have syntactic autonomy and others do not; some of them are still named and described by (including) their initial morphological status (prepositions, pronouns, articles etc.), although it is claimed that they have lost it (GBLR, 2010, p.114); others (such as
Nevertheless, we have only taken into consideration those mark(er)s that have a grammatical function. Other types mentioned and/or discussed in GBLR are phonetical, lexical, discursive and may imply the marking of interrogation, emphasis, thematization, subordination etc. Needless to say, they are all called, simply, ‘mark(er)s’, most often without any further details, specifications or delimitations. (Since we have already mentioned the adverbs, they are also functioning as ‘marks’ at the pragmatic and discursive level (GBLR, 2010, p. 301), they can be ‘focalization’ and ‘restriction’ mark(er)s and so on.)
While the grammatical mark(er)s and morphemes represent a very heterogeneous linguistic category, this is no reason to enhance their inherent difficulty by contradictory explanations and interpretations, when they are not required by the language itself, but, on the contrary, when they seem to be imposed from the mere use of the terms and/or from the compliance to a borrowed terminology.
We strongly believe that more rigorous descriptions and delimitations are needed for both the concepts and the terms that denominate them. While certain terms might inevitably stand for a diverse linguistic reality, and ‘mark(er)’ is definitely one of them, their use should be accurate enough to point out towards the exact/specific linguistic fact they are describing, while unequivocally linking them to the intentional meaning. Unless this happens, the fundamental principles of the scientific terminology are at risk, since they should imply the accuracy of the specialised meaning, the lack of ambiguity and a clarifying and unequivocal definition and standardization. The multiple meanings of a term require special attention and, still, they can be easily dealt with if basic requirements are met: first, an adequate definition, which plays a fundamental role, as it clarifies and fixes the concept, while it settles clear delineations; secondly, when a single meaning of the term cannot be valid throughout the entire work (which is certainly the case with the ‘mark(er)’), it becomes compulsory to specify, every time, the particular use or the term (in our case, grammatical vs. discursive vs. lexical a.s.o. marker). This is to be substantiated by coherent arguments and by a consistent use.
At least as important it is the necessary return, every now and then, even from within a deliberate modernity, towards the consecrated traditional Romanian grammar. However modern the current researches might be, the Romanian grammar has already demonstrated facts that do not need to be reinvented. Or else, one might just face the risk, as Coșeriu (2000, p.103) said, to be fascinated by things that are obvious and to misunderstand not only the borrowed models, but also the mere essence of the Romanian language.
- Anderson, S. R. (1992). A-morphous morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Coşeriu, E. (2000). Lecții de lingvistică generală [Lessons of general linguistics]. Chișinău: Editura Arc.
- DȘL. (2001). Dicţionar de ştiinţe ale limbii [Dictionary of language sciences]. Bucureşti: Editura Nemira.
- GALR. (2005). Gramatica limbii române [Grammar of Romanian language]. Bucureşti: Editura Academiei Române.
- GBLR. (2010). Gramatica de bază a limbii române [The basic grammar of the Romanian language]. Bucureşti: Editura Univers Enciclopedic.
- Lyons, C. (1999). Definiteness. UK: Cambridge University Press.
- Spencer, A. (1991). Morphological theory: An introduction to word structure in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
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30 July 2017
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Cuibus, D. (2017). The Marker And The Morpheme In The Romanian Grammars. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Multidimensional Education and Professional Development: Ethical Values, vol 27. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 115-121). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.07.03.17