Re: [indic] Halant - can it be called a "Linguistic Zero" (Panini)?

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Wed Apr 28 2010 - 14:32:12 CDT

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    > Could you tell me where is the community,
    > and the size of community that using the
    > term "zeroing element" or "linguistic zero"?
    > It sounds new term for me.

    The term "linguistic zero" has been around in linguistics
    for awhile now.

    Exactly how a linguist uses it will depend on what
    theories they ascribe to, but two common usages
    would include:

    1. A null morpheme. This is a case where there is
    a derivational pattern which in general might involve
    a specific addition of an affix to a word, but which in
    other cases might involve no overt affix (and no
    change in pronunciation, either). Examples abound
    in English, where nouns may be turned into verbs
    (or verbs into nouns) without specific changes in
    form. In morphological analysis, such cases may be
    represented by addition of a "null morpheme", which
    is often represented by the symbol U+2205 EMPTY SET.

    2. A phonological zero. This concept arises from
    certain kinds of phonological analysis, where there
    may be a pattern indicating the presence of a
    phoneme (or other kind of segment, depending on
    your theory and the level of analysis involved), but
    where there is no actual sound present. These
    phonological zeroes may also often be represented
    by the symbol U+2205 EMPTY SET.

    (And indeed, if you look at the Unicode code chart
    entry for U+2205, there in an annotation to that

    In response to Naga's question:

    1. A halant is not a graphological "zero", because it
    is a visible part of the writing system which indicates
    a particular pronunciation (i.e., the omission of a vowel).
    So it can be considered an actual grapheme.

    2. A halant is not a phonological "zero" (see above).
    It isn't a pattern point for a missing sound. Instead,
    it is just a visible way of representing a phoneme (i.e., /k/)
    instead of a sequence of phonemes (i.e., /ka/).

    Just my opinions, of course. YMMD. ;-)


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