semantics and pragmatics of to-contraction (fwd)

A. Katz amnfn at WELL.COM
Sat Aug 4 03:27:16 UTC 2001

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 14:35:01 -0700
From: Spike Gildea <spike at DARKWING.UOREGON.EDU>
Subject: Re: semantics and pragmatics of to-contraction

>P.S.  I believe the permission/privilege reading of may and can is a
>secondary development, in each case arising by implicature from an
>etymologically prior abilitative reading.  Are there well-attested
>cases in the literature of permissive auxiliaries/affixes arising
>directly from permissive matrix verbs like get, that have no
>abilitative reading at all?

Hebrew and Chinese have permissive auxiliaries where the subject is the
one granting the permission and the source verb means `give'.

      Natati   lo lalexet
      gave-1st DAT-3rd to-go
      "I let him go"

      Wo  gei  ta  chu
      1st give 3rd go

The metaphor seems to be the same as with English `he gets to go' -- that
permission is a thing which is given or received. The difference is that
the focus is on the giver, not the receiver as in English.

    --Aya Katz

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