Linguistics in Amsterdam 4-2 (september 2011)Magaly Grández Ávila: Language transparency in Functional Discourse Grammar: The case of Quechua1
4 Accounting for degrees of transparency within levels
4.1 At the Morphosyntactic Level

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4.1.7 No fusional morphology

As explained by Hengeveld and Mackenzie (2008: 301), fusional languages are semantically opaque as there is no one-to-one relation between a unit of form and a unit of meaning, as illustrated in the following Spanish example:


Quechua is a language which does not present a fusional but an agglutinating morphology, which means that there is a one-to-one relation between morphemes at the Morphosyntactic Level and units at the Representational and Interpersonal Levels, as can be noted in the example below, whose representation at each of the levels mentioned before clearly reflects the morphogical transparency of this language:

[Note 10]
(Weber, 1989: 88)

However, Quechua does also present certain degree of opaqueness in its morphology, especially with respect to transitional markers. A transition is defined by Weber (1989) as a complex of verbal suffixes that function together to indicate the person of the object and subject, as well as the tense/subordination relationship. In most cases, transitions are agglutinating in nature, which means that the boundaries between suffixes forming a transition are clear-cut and so semantically transparent, but in other cases, especially those involving a third person object, the distinctions between the subject and object person and the tense/subordination relationship is conveyed by means of a single form, as shown in the example below (Weber 1989:79):


In the morphology of Quechua, we also find cases of stem alternation in verbs affecting the ideally one-to-one mapping between units of meaning and units of form. Stem alternation is a property of certain verbal roots which derive historically from the combination of a monosyllabic verbal root and a derivational suffix which is normally subjected to morpho-phonemic lowering when followed by certain other suffixes. For example, the final high vowel of the verb miku- ‘eat’, which derives historically from mi-+ku-, is lowered to /a/, and so miku- becomes mika-, when followed by one of a certain group of suffixes which triggers the property of lowering, such as the directional suffix -mu ‘afar’, as shown in (74) below:

(Weber, 1989: 29)

Thus, stem alternation in verbs occurs basically because several of the incorporated derivational suffixes, such as –ku in miku- ‘eat’, present the property of lowering in different morphological contexts and carry such property into the verb stem when the verb+suffix becomes one unit.

In conclusion, Quechua can be said to be transparent, though to a certain extent, with respect to the feature of fusion.