Terminology for verbal derivation

Michel LAUNEY michel.launey at ird.fr
Mon Jul 16 21:56:48 UTC 2012

All linguists will agree that cross-linguistic variation is great, and 
that our terminology is therefore unavoidably awkward, but Dan 
Everett's reluctance may lead to still more awkward consequences: 
either coining a different terminology for each individual language, 
or giving up any terminology.
For instance, this would forbid us to say that English, French and 
Arabic all have definite articles, that, say, Latin, Russian, Modern 
Greek and Turkish all have a genitive case, that English, French and 
Spanish all have reflexive forms etc. etc., because what we call so 
have different uses in each language.
I wonder if being wary about "applicative" (and, I suppose, much less 
about "article", "genitive", "reflexive" and so on) does not come from 
the fact that what "applicative" (or "benefactive", "prepositional 
form", "objective version" etc.) refers to is a relatively "novel" 
discovery in the history of linguistics, so that linguists are a bit 
touchier about the specificities of the language or language family in 
which they find the phenomenon, while much more tolerant about the 
awkwardness (call it polysemy or even ambiguity if you like) of more 
formidably traditional terms for parts of speech or grammatical 
Michel Launey

On Mon, 16 Jul 2012 15:51:09 -0400
  Daniel Everett <dan at daneverett.org> wrote:
> It is possible that 'applicative' is the best term here, depending 
>on local linguistic traditions.
> But as Sally and I (and different co-authors) showed in a series of 
>papers on Salish the range of ways to modify/signal modification of 
>various manifestations of transitivity and valence go beyond 
>currently available terminology. I don't mind terms like 
>'applicative' as mnemonic devices in limited contexts, e.g. specific 
>language families, but I don't like them when they are used as 
>cross-linguistic standards. I don't find rigid use of terms all that 
>useful. The variation is too great in most cases, especially when 
>looked at more carefully.
> -- Dan
> On Jul 16, 2012, at 3:44 PM, Michel LAUNEY wrote:
>> Hi,
>> "Applicative" seems to me, definitely, the best term.
>> To my knowledge, it was first coined in 1595 by Antonio del Rincon, 
>> who in his "Arte Mexicana" had "discovered" this phenomenon in 
>> Nahuatl. There is a long tradition of use of this term in grammars 
>> Nahuatl and other Middle American languages.
>> In the Bantu linguistic tradition, it is also used, but more often 
>> will find "prepositional form of the verb" (which is strange, 
>> precisely the added argument NP occurs with no preposition).
>> I find in a Georgian grammar (Tschenkeli "Einf├╝hrung in die 
>> Sprache") "Objektive Version", which seems to me also 
>> Best
>> Michel Launey
>> On Mon, 16 Jul 2012 07:54:10 +0100
>>  Lachlan Mackenzie <lachlan_mackenzie at hotmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi, John,
>>> To me it seems like 'applicative' might be the word you're looking 
>>> for. One applicative form can cover various meanings, in the way you 
>>> describe for Bari -kindya.
>>> Cf. David A. Peterson (2007). Applicative Constructions. OUP.
>>> Best wishes,
>>> Lachlan Mackenzie
>>>> To: funknet at mailman.rice.edu> Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 08:40:26 +0300
>>>> From: john at research.haifa.ac.il
>>>> Subject: [FUNKNET] Terminology for verbal derivation
>>>> Dear Funknetters, 
>>>> I'm looking for a term to use to refer to a form
>>>> for deriving verbs in Bari (-kindya) which seems to 
>>>> generally add an
>>>> argument to the verb, but the argument can be any one of a variety 
>>>> of
>>>> types--it can be 
>>>> an indirect object, a directional particle, just
>>>> about anything it seems (for example, when added to the 
>>>> root meaning
>>>> 'old age', it can take as an argument a place, with the meaning 'to 
>>>> live
>>>> to an old age while 
>>>> living continuously at that place', or a
>>>> nominalized form of a verb referring to an occupation, with the
>>>> meaning 'to live to an old age while continuing to work at that
>>>> occupation'). Do you have any ideas what 
>>>> term I might use to refer to
>>>> this form of the verb? I was initially going to call it the
>>>> 'Benefactive' because 
>>>> it's often used to add an indirect object (e.g.
>>>> 'close a door for someone') but when I looked at all of the 
>>>> usages of
>>>> this form it became clear that this is really a pretty small 
>>>> minority of
>>>> its uses. 
>>>> Any ideas? 
>>>> Thanks, 
>>>> John 

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