reversative morphemes

Paul Hopper hopper at
Sun May 1 02:45:38 UTC 2005

On reversatives: It would be interesting to know something about the discourse contexts in which Kutenai <la> is used. Does it "reverse" a previous assumption/expectation, for example? Is it like English

<turn round and>

that has been discussed in the literature (including my paper "Hendiadys and Auxiliation in English" in 'Complex Sentences in Grammar & Discourse' ed. Bybee/Noonan Benjamins 2002), as in "they turned round and fired him"?

It might be fruitful to extend the search from "morphemes" to include "constructions".

Paul Hopper

> A student of mine, Scott Paauw, is interested in identifying references
> to reversative morphemes in various languages, grammatical morphemes that
> sometimes translate into English as ?back? and sometimes as ?again? (so
> that when combining with ?He went?, the resulting meaning might be either
>  ?He went back? or ?He went again?).  In some languages, such as Kutenai,
>  the reversative has a use that goes beyond this, that occurs in clauses
> containing a morpheme that is semantically negative, illustrated by the
> following (using <l> to represent the voiceless lateral fricative:
> taxa-s    la      lit-uk-s-i.
then-obv  revers
> without-water-obv.subj-indic ?Then there was no more water.?
> An English translation with ?again? doesn?t work, like ?Then they were
> without water again?, since that implies that they are returning to a
> state without water, when the original sentence appears not to have any
> such implication.  Another Kutenai example:
> qapi-l    la      lu?-s-i all-prvb
revers  not.exist-obv.subj-indic
> of them were gone ?
> Scott tells me that there is a reversative morpheme in Indonesian that
> shares this property with Kutenai.  So he is interested in any other
> information about reversatives, especially any other instances where they
>  interact with negative morphemes in this way.
> You can reply either to me or to Scott (shpaauw at
> Thanks,
> Matthew Dryer

Paul J. Hopper
Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
Tel. 412-683-1109
Fax 412-268-7989

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