oblitive verbs

Amiridze, Nino Nino.Amiridze at let.uu.nl
Sun Apr 25 12:47:06 UTC 2004

Dear colleagues,

I was wondering whether you could help me with finding out langauges
having pro-verbs, language data and/or references.

Under pro-verbs I mean proforms which serve as a substitute for verb forms.
I know in some sense also English "do" can be described as a pro-verb but I
need pro-forms which not simply appear in ellipsis but act as a filler.

The pro-verbs I am looking for are used in the case when the utterer
searches for a word (verb form) because (s)he forgot what to say or also for
intentional vagueness.

Modern Spoken Georgian has such pro-verbs which are used when one has
accidentally forgotten or avoids mentioning the exact lexical verb form for
some reason. The pro-verbs are based on the root -kn- (in fact suppletive
-ken- / -shvr- / -zam-) originally meaning "do" and conjugate in any
possible way within all the TMA Series.

In order for a pro-verb to be able to replace a lexical verb form in a
discourse the two have to have some features identical while lexical meaning
can vary. For instance, the pro-verb in aorist indicative (Example 1) with a
certain preverb (here, gada-) and the 1st person indirect object marker m-
can replace any of (2) with the same preverb, the same indirect object
marker and in Aorist but none of (3) which have other preverbs (3a), other
indirect object marker (3b) or are in a different TMA Paradigm (here future
indicative) (3c):

(1) gada-imas-m-i-kn-a
    "(S)he VERBed it for/to me"

(2) a. gada-m-e-xv-i-a
    "(s)he hugged me"

    b. gada-m-i-q'ar-a
    "(S)he threw it to/for me"

    c. gada-m-a-chv-i-a
    "(S)he made me change the custom"

(3) a. she-m-a-chv-i-a
    "(S)he made me acquire the custom"

    b. gada-g-e-xv-i-a
    "(s)he hugged you.SG"

    c. gada-m-i-q'r-i-s
    "(S)he will throw it to/for me"

According to Skorik's 1977 Grammar (volume 2) and Michael Dunn's 1999
dissertation Chukchi has pro-verbs. Colleagues from LINGTYP list have given
examples of Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, etc. pro-verbs. Thay also suggested
to call such forms oblitive verbs rather than pro-verbs. I have been given
English oblitive pronoun "thingamy" and the German ones "Dingsbums" or
"Dingens". Some languages, for instance, Italian, Turkish and Hungarian form
oblitive verbs out of oblitive pronouns via verbalizers, auxiliaries.

Could you let me know if you have ever come accross pro-verbs in your
research or does your mother language have such forms.

Thank you.


Nino Amiridze
Utrecht Institute for Linguistics
Utrecht University

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