David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Tue Feb 16 03:45:52 UTC 2010

Hebrew has the same pattern, with inflected forms of the root *H-Ø-b* 
(where H denotes the unvoiced pharyngeal fricative):

moSe Hayav mea Sekel
Moses owe.MSG hundred shekel
'Moses owes a hundred shekel'

moSe Hayav lalexet
Mose must.MSG INF.go
'Moses must go'

(In other morphological patterns, the same root can have a range of 
other related meanings, such as 'debit' (v.); 'debt', 'obligation', 
'commitment', etc.

Since I often remark on this list about the difficulty of obtaining 
negative evidence, I offer Riau Indonesian (and probably many other 
varieties of Malay/Indonesian) as an example of a language not 
exhibiting the same pattern.    However, in at least one variety of 
Malay/Indonesian, a similar pattern has arisen.  In Kuala Lumpur Malay, 
as in many other varieties of Malay/Indonesian, the word *kena*, whose 
basic meaning is 'undergo', or 'be affected by' has (at least) the 
following range of usages:

Musa kena batu
Musa undergo stone
'Musa got hit by / tripped over a stone'

Musa kena pukul
Musa undergo hit
'Musa was hit'
[the usage on which basis *kena* is often characterized as a passive marker]

Musa kena seratus ringgit
Musa undergo one-hundred ringgit
'Musa had to pay / was hit for one hundred ringgit'
[this is not quite the 'owe' meaning but still somewhat similar]

Now where Kuala Lumpur Malay differs from most other varieties of 
Malay/Indonesian is that, in addition to the above, *kena* has also 
developed the meaning of 'must', as in

Musa kena pergi
Musa undergo go
'Musa must go'

Thus, the last two examples produce a pattern similar if not quite 
identical to the 'owe'/'must' pattern under discussion.


David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

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