killed to death

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 20 20:13:15 UTC 2008

>This is perhaps a bit tangential, but a friend once showed me a sign
>from Papua New Guinea in Pidgin that exhorted, "Yu no kilim waif
>bilong yu" (I might have that slightly incorrect), which she
>translated as "Don't beat your wife." She explained that "Don't kill
>your wife" would be "Yu no kilim ded waif bilong yu." In other words,
>"kilim" -- from English "kill" -- means "beat," and "kilim ded" means
>"kill." (Dollars to doughnuts a Pidgin scholar on the list will
>correct me on details. Please do!)

This seems quite similar to what happens in the languages I was
mentioning (Chinese, Korean, Hindi, a bunch of others) where killing
(or what gets so glossed) doesn't entail death. In Korean, at least,
the periphrastic causative ('make someone die', essentially) does
have this entailment, but the lexical causative version doesn't.


>Evidence, anyway, not that it's needed, of the weaking of the word by
>the time it got pulled into Pidgin.
>James Harbeck.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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