re- [Danish]

Hans G=?ISO-8859-1?B?9g==?=tzsche goetzsche at HUM.AUC.DK
Mon Aug 25 14:03:22 UTC 2003

Richard is ­ by and large ­ right in his account of the Danish prefix gen-
Œre¹, both concerning meaning, use and word formation, and concerning the
fact that there are productive restrictions. But his example of a
restriction: genganger (noun) and *gengå Œrego¹, Œgo again¹ (verb) may not
be the happiest one. To put it briefly, gen- is a reduced form (ie version;
not historically) of Danish igen Œagain¹ the English cognate of which is,
obviously, again (of Germanic origin; the history is rather complicated, cf
against). The reason why the verb *gengå Œrego¹ is not licensed in Danish
may be the fact that the meaning of genganger as Œa person who attends a
course repeatedly¹ is a derived, metaphorical meaning of recent origin. The
original, historical meaning of the word is to refer to a person who has the
unpleasant habit of gå igen Œgo again¹, ie Œcoming back after having died¹
and maybe frightening people as a ghost. The word genganger Œghost¹ has been
formed from gå igen by use of the general Danish rules for forming nouns by
applying the rules to a verb + an adverb (functioning as a verb particle).
The historical path of the word may have been forgotten by contemporary
young people in Denmark but its original meaning as a subconscious relic may
confuse the straightforward analysis of the noun vs the verb.

Best wishes,

Hans Götzsche

> From: Richard Valovics <ricsi at MAIL1.STOFANET.DK>
> Reply-To: Richard Valovics <ricsi at MAIL1.STOFANET.DK>
> Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 15:09:59 +0200
> Subject: Re: re-
> The Danish gen- prefix is very similar to the English re-, both in
> meaning and in combinatorial behaviour. It is productive, yet
> restricted. It's not quite clear (to me) what the rules governing its
> use are. It can be combined with transitive verbs (genopbygge =
> rebuild) and also with intransitive ones (genopstå = resurrect, lit.
> reupstand), but not with all (*gengå = rego). Yet, nouns derived
> from intransitive verbs that do not combine with gen- can combine
> with it: genganger = regoer, e.g. a person who attends a course
> repeatedly.
> As default, gen- is interpreted as denoting a single repetition, but it
> can readily combine with adverbs denoting several repetitions.
> Speaking about Hungarian, Hungarian too has suffixes that are
> often labelled as iterative. However, they do not usually express an
> action being repeated, rather an action that is split up in several
> (identical) subactions. E.g. eszik means to eat, eszeget does not
> mean to eat several times, it rather envisages a person that takes
> a bite of food repeatedly with some time elapsing between the
> bites. Often such iterative verbs convey the idea that the action is
> not fulfilled, e.g. the food is not consumed fully.
> Richard Valovics
>> Frans is correct about the title of Haj Ross' paper. I don’t believe Haj
>> ever published this paper, though he often gave it as a presentation.
>> Semanticists (Kenny, Mourelatos, etc) love examples like "We rang the
>> doorbell three times" (gave it three rings/rang it on three occasions).
>> Since any semelfactive can take adverbs, it still seems that re- is
>> understood as a  single repetition unless this meaning is overridden by an
>> adverb.
>> Typologically there is something more happening here. It does seem that
>> Haj’s "worded up" forms like re- (mis-, etc.) prefer transitive verbs,
>> though we must be careful not to be guided solely by intuitions. Just a
>> few minutes ago I heard someone say on the phone "No, we’re not
>> re-subscribing this year." The object of "Robin wants to hire a Belgian"
>> is ambiguous between referential and nonreferential readings, but the
>> object of "Robin wants to re-hire a Belgian" is only referential. In
>> "Leslie wrote a poem" the object is effected (=less transitive), but in
>> "Leslie re-wrote a poem" it is affected (=more transitive). And perfective
>> aspect, which tends to go along with transitivity, is often associated
>> with verbal prefixes (there are Indo-European, and, I think, Hungarian and
>> Georgian examples).
>> - Paul Hopper
>>>> At 14:36 18.08.2003 -0700, Dan I. Slobin wrote:
>>>> English re- is exceptionally productive, but I don't know if anyone has
>>>> figured out the constraints.
>>> Haj Ross has, a while ago.   I can't remember the reference, but I
>>> believe the title was "Wording Up". And there is a vast (formal)
>>> semantics literature on 'again', 're-', and such, though typically
>>> limiting itself to the L1 of formal semanticists (German).
>>> Incidentally, to add to the terminological embarrass de richesse, I'm
>>> using PROLONGATIVE as a cover term for (forms or constructions for) the
>>> continuation of a process or state beyond their normal temporal
>>> extension, or also their prolongation through reiteration, with the
>>> participants remaining the same throughout.  So far as I know,
>>> PROLONGATIVE is a term coined for an aspectual form of Navajo by Young &
>>> Morgan (The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary.
>>> Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,1980: 325-326).  However,
>>> the semantics of that particular form for unintentional action or
>>> suppressed initiator control ('doing something excessively or
>>> incorrectly and being unable to stop') seems to me and others to better
>>> captured by the term ERRATIVE, commonly used elsewhere in Athapaskan.
>>> Obviously, there ought to be an ISA -- if, who knows?, there isn't one
>>> already.
>>> Frans Plank
>> --
>> Paul J. Hopper
>> Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
>> Department of English
>> College of Humanities and Social Sciences
>> Carnegie Mellon University
>> Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
>> Tel. 412-683-1109
>> Fax 412-268-7989
> Richard Valovics
> Department of Scandinavian Studies
> University of Aarhus

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