reversative morphemes

Miriam Meyerhoff mhoff at
Mon May 2 08:10:08 UTC 2005

As I recall, Arnim von Stechow had a discussion of 'wieder' in German
that might be relevant. I think the kinds of examples included things
like (apologies to German speakers):

Die Tuer wuerde wieder geoeffnet
Die Temperatur ist wieder angestiegen

where 'wieder' may presuppose an earlier door opening or rise in
temperature, but also may mean 'opened yet further'/'rose higher than
it was'. Von Stechow has a paper from 1996 on his web page that might
be useful.

best, Miriam

>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
>?All 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
>Matthew Dryer

Miriam Meyerhoff
Reader, Theoretical & Applied Linguistics
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH8 9LL

ph.: +44 131 650-3961 or (direct line) 651-1836
fax: +44 131 650-3962

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