Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 106
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 106
that originally stood for fairly distinct concepts—as we saw was presumably the case with such parallel forms as drove and worked—but a merely mechanical manifolding of the same formal element without a corresponding growth of a new concept. This type of form development, therefore, while of the greatest interest for the general history of language, does not directly concern us now in our effort to understand the nature of grammatical concepts and their tendency to degenerate into purely formal counters.
  We may now conveniently revise our first classification of concepts as expressed in language and suggest the following scheme:
    Basic (Concrete) Concepts (such as objects, actions, qualities) : normally expressed by independent words or radical elements; involve no relation as such 12
    Derivational Concepts (less concrete, as a rule, than I, more so than III): normally expressed by affixing non-radical elements to radical elements or by inner modification of these; differ from type I in defining ideas that are irrelevant to the proposition as a whole but that give a radical element a particular increment of significance and that are thus inherently related in a specific way to concepts of type I 13
    Note 12.  Except, of course, the fundamental selection and contrast necessarily implied in defining one concept as against another. “Man” and “white” possess an inherent relation to “woman” and “black,” but it is a relation of conceptual content only and is of no direct interest to grammar. [back]
    Note 13.  Thus, the -er of farmer may be defined as indicating that particular substantive concept (object or thing) that serves as the habitual subject of the particular verb to which it is affixed. This relation of “subject” (a farmer farms) is inherent in and specific to the word; it does not exist for the sentence as a whole. In the same way the -ling of duckling defines a specific relation of attribution that concerns only the radical element, not the sentence. [back]


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