> I agree. This was my possibly-lost point.
> French clitics are words and not prefixes because French orthography treats
> them as such, plain and simple. There's no immediate reason why we couldn't
> write, say, "je netecomprends pas" instead of "je ne te comprends pas," but
> in modern French, we don't.
That's only true if you restrict the definition of "word" to "orthographic
word", which is too restrictive for me. As Alex indicated, it's not standard
terminology, it denies non-written languages the ability to have "words",
and it confuses an accident of typography with an inherent property of
As Alex indicated, there are more than one definition of "word". The
"orthographic word", defined as something written with spaces around, is not
only a rather useless one, it's not even relevant for many written languages
(Did Latin have no words because it was written without spaces? Do Japanese
and Chinese have no word?). More relevant are things like the "prosodic
In my analysis of French, I define "word" quite differently from what the
written language does (I use mainly the prosodic word as base). I feel it
helps understand facts of Spoken French grammar better, even if it means
separate words in the written language become affixes in my analysis of the
spoken one, and French ends up as a polysynthetic language!
> This is why the notion of "morpheme" is relevant: Words are most easily
> defined in languages with appropriate orthographies as the units between the
> spaces, by whatever rules that language's orthography dictates. "Der
> Brieftraeger fahrt meiner Briefkasten um!" is, by this rule, six words
> ("fahrt um" being two), while "Der Brieftraeger wollte meiner Briefkasten
> umfahren!" is likewise six ("umfahren" being one); I don't know if that
> matches German analysis (Duden is being unhelpful on the specific topic, but
> does discuss syntatic words). "Run up" in both "I ran up a big hill" and "I
> ran up a big bill" would be two (syntactic) words, even though it's two
> morphemes in the first case and one morpheme in the latter.
You do realise that neither your definition of "word" nor your definition of
"morpheme" are what is commonly accepted? Do you also realise that the way
you define them, they are also useless to analyse at least 50% of the
languages out there?