Minimal vs. augmented inclusive cohortative

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Mon Nov 26 22:54:31 UTC 2001

I am fascinated by what seems to be a semantic contrast betwen the
Russian forms cited by Nina and what would seem to be a calque
construction in Hebrew:

> Davaj    spoj-em!
> PART    sing-1PL
> Let's sing! [thou and me]
> Davaj-te    spoj-em
> PART-2PL    sing-1PL
> Let's sing! [thou and me and one or more person more]

Bo             naSir
come:IMP:2SGM  sing:FUT:1PL
Let's sing!  [thou and me]

Bou            naSir
come:IMP:2PL   sing:FUT:1PL
Let's sing!  [y'all and me]

Unlike its Russian counterpart (according to Nina), the second sentence
in Hebrew is only appropriate in the case where the addressees
themselves form a plural set (either directly, or, less commmonly, by
means of a single addressee together with one or more associate
members).  It is NOT appropriate if the addressee is strictly singular
(even if the speaker himself expects other people, not addressed, to
participate in the singing).

I find it very curious that such a contrast should exist, between such
superficially similar constructions in different languages.

Anyway, Hebrew offers an example of a language in which there is no
distinction between "dual" and "1st plural imperative".  Two other
languages that I'm familiar with which lack that distinction are Tagalog
and Riau Indonesian.

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Inselstrasse 22, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-9952321
Fax: 49-341-9952119
Email: gil at

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list