[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu May 31 08:45:34 EDT 2018

Following up on my own comment below ...

On 31/05/2018 13:52, David Gil wrote:
> On 31/05/2018 13:37, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
>> On 05/31/2018 01:18 PM, David Gil wrote:
>>> A point of logic.  "Not X" and "Antonym (X)" are distinct notions, and
>>> the original query by Ian Joo pertains to the former, not the latter.
>> but is there any (monomorphemic) lexeme which expresses not-X which is
>> not the antonym of X?
> But how many (monomorphemic) lexemes expressing not-X are there at 
> all?  The only ones I can think of are suppletive negative 
> existentials, e.g. Tagalog "may" (exist) > "wala" (not exist). Even 
> suppletive negative desideratives don't quite fit the bill, e.g. 
> Tagalog "nais"/"gusto" (want) > "ayaw", which is commonly glossed as 
> "not want", but actually means "want not-X", rather than "not want-X" 
> — "ayaw" is thus an antonym but not a strict negation of "nais"/"gusto".
> What is not clear to me about the original query is whether it is 
> asking for negations or for antonyms.
If the original query is about antonyms then I suspect there are 
actually tons of examples, perhaps too many for it to be really 
interesting.  Take the original "not go".  What's the antonym of "go"?  
It could be "stay" but it could also be "come" — it depends on the 
choice of feature whose value is being reversed. Now if we take the 
antonym of "go" to be "come" then here's an example from 
Malay/Indonesian dialectal variation that strikes me as being anything 
but exotic from a cross-linguistic point of view.  In most varieties of 
Malay/Indonesian we have "pergi" (go) and "datang" (come).  However, in 
Sabah Malay, "pergi" has lost its deictic force and hence can also be 
understood as "come".  So if the query is about antonyms, then Sabah 
Malay "pergi" fits the bill, since it means both "come" and "go".  But 
such examples are commonplace, which is why I doubt that this was the 
original intention of the query.

David Gil

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list