I'm trying to fix a gloss where I've been told not to include a literal translation of a word. I know it's a linkage marker, but I don't know which word to 'call' it.

emu da ballà
we.are from dance.INF
'We will dance'

The problem word is "da", which literally means "from". I need to annotate it as "LKG", but how do I represent this in the sentence without putting "from"?

EDIT: The instruction I was given was:

Even though it means 'from' literally, it does not in this construction: please replace with LKG (for linkage marker)

Presumably you can't write LKG on its own? So just "from.LKG"?

My larger question is whether you would always use a literal translation for a word even when it's used in a specific context.

For example in French, "à" and "de" loosely mean to/from, but both can be translated as "to" before an infinitive:

Il m'aide à cuisiner
he to.me=helps to cook.INF
He helps me to cook

Il me demande de cuisiner
he to.me=asks from cook.INF
He asks me to cook

Is it correct to write "from" in the second gloss, because the preposition is "de" and not "à"?

  • I have a similar problem with PIE glosses. The gloss "with" biases understanding. It also helps, because I need a reasonable mnemonic. I translate the gloss to German, consider the German etymology, translate that again, and suddenly gloss the original root as "uber"; I also know that the root is reflected as kei in Greek, which is glossed "and". So I have two and a half glosses to work with. The problem is much worse if working in only one language, if "with" means just that. However for particles and morphemes one 3rd p sg indicate pl Noun definition when glossing sentences
    – vectory
    Nov 30, 2019 at 2:06
  • 1
    I don't understand why you wouldn't gloss it as "from".
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 30, 2019 at 5:31
  • EDIT: updated original post with the instructions I was given
    – NoID
    Nov 30, 2019 at 15:12
  • 3
    Who has the authority to tell a linguist how to mark a gloss? And why should you pay any attention to such instructions? Glosses are not official. They are short, informative, and useful, but they're throwaways. Short answer: use whatever you think works best.
    – jlawler
    Nov 30, 2019 at 18:03
  • 2
    Why not? When a word in an utterance has only functional meaning, why write anything but its function? I've no experience of glossing myself, but picking a journal at random from my shelf I find a gloss "IsInd Aux Deic sing-IsCmp1Sb" (Newman, Stanley, Functional Changes in the Salish Pronominal System, IJAL 46:3. 1980). Sing is the only semantic item in that gloss - the rest are all functional.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 1, 2019 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


In a gloss, you can mark an element with an annotation without a label or literal translation of the word.

In this example, the word "da" is functional and not lexical, therefore it is appropriate to annotate it as "LKG" (linkage marker) without literally translating it as "from". So the answer is:

emu da ballà
we.are LKG dance.INF
'We will dance'

  • optimally you allign the corresponding symbols above each other for visual accessability
    – vectory
    Dec 1, 2019 at 20:52

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