Four Points for Linguistics
Phonetics and phonology plus form-and-function pairs
(Arranged on a continuum of morpheme through to clause)
And context and community: a four-fold set of squares;
Are the territories and provinces a lingu-explorer explores.
For they meet up at a quadripoint—and that’s where language is:
Meaning-making magic for the homo sentient.
Like Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Ariz,
Let’s mark that four-way point with a Four Corners Monument!
Any other quadripoints worth noting in linguistics?
Aha! I think I’ve got one: articulatory phonetics:
The source and the direction of the airstream plus phonation
And then two more: the place and manner of articulation!
Or vowels: hi-low is one; front-back is two; round and unround
Then add the fourth—nasality—we’ve got a vowelly sound.
(There’s pitch and amplitude as well, and don’t forget duration
But hey, a quadripoint is just a close approximation.)
Certain schools of grammar give us fours (e.g. GG):
The so-called content lexemes which are N, V, A and P
Which in their day inspired the notion ‘X projects XP’.
Then Abney (’87) wondered ‘Does it work with D?’
There’s a four-fold hierarchy in the structure of X-bar.
XP, X-bar, X-zero makes it three but Lieber, R.
Said ‘What about X-1 for morpho-derivation?:
Morphemes resyntacticise by means of affix-[N-1 -ation]’.
Grice has his four maxims, Q, Q, M and R;
Dectics have four sub-types: ‘here’, ‘there’, ‘over there’ and ‘far’.
There’s singulars and plurals but also trials and duals
And any phrase in CogGram has at minimum four construals.
I’m sure there’s other tetrads but in verses 2 x 4.
We’ve covered most. You’ve others? send ’em in—we’d love some more!
But just like there’s four gospels and four cardinal directions
Suits of cards and deadly horsemen,
Beatles (what a fabby foursome),
Elements and Ninja Turtles
(And 400 meter hurdles)
We’ve now covered quite enough
To make the point that lingo stuff
Can occur in groups of four
(Though sometimes less and sometimes more).
Our tetradic ling collections
Pass the stringent-est inspections
So that’ll do; no more to say
Of lingo things that split four-way
(Like string quartet and Teletubbies;
Certain celebs and their hubbies);
We all agree (now say with me;
All together, one, two, three1
That lingo never lets us down
Or makes us cry or makes us frown
It’s all amazing, entertaining
Always worth re-re-explaining;
And the part that is the best
The life, the love, the zing, the zest
The bit that never disappoints:
Is this: linguistic quadripoints!