[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu May 31 14:43:40 EDT 2018


Yes, as Matti points out, negative lexicalization is not quite as rare 
as I was implying.  Yet at the same time, I suspect that it might not be 
as common as Matti is suggesting.  Looking at the examples that he cites 
in his Handbook chapter, I suspect that in some cases, the negative 
counterpart isn't "just" negative, but is also associated with some 
additional meaning components.

Matti doesn't list "good"/"bad" as being such a pair, though, citing 
work by Ulrike Zeshan on sign languages, he does mention other 
evaluative concepts such as "not right", "not possible", "not enough".  
in English, at least, "bad" is not the negation of "good", it is the 
antonym of "good"; there's all kind of stuff in the world which we 
attach no evaluative content to, and which hence is neither good nor 
bad. (It's true that in English, in many contexts, the expression "not 
good" is understood as meaning "bad", which is interesting in and of 
itself, but still, it is not necessarily understood in this way.) While 
I have no direct evidence, I would strongly suspect that in languages 
that have lexicalized expressions for "not right", "not possible", and 
"not enough", the meanings of these expressions will be the antonyms of 
"right", "possible" and "enough", and not their negations.

Under lexicalized negatives in the domain of tense/aspect, Matti lists 
"will not", "did not", "not finished".  Well the one case that I am 
familiar with that falls into this category is that of the 
Malay/Indonesian iamative/perfect marker "sudah", which has a 
lexicalized negative counterpart "belum".  However, "belum" isn't just 
"not sudah"; it also bears a strong (if not invariant) implicature that 
at some point in the future, the state or activity that is not complete 
will be completed — in fact, just like the English expression "not 
yet".  (When people in Indonesia ask you if you're married, it's 
considered impolite to answer with a simple negation "tidak"; you're 
supposed to say "belum" precisely because of its implicature that you 
will, in the future, get married.  By avoiding this implicature, the 
simple negation "tidak" is viewed as a threat to the natural order of 
things, in which everybody should get married.)

I suspect that many if not all of the cases characterized by Matti as 
"lexicalized negatives" will turn out to be associated with some 
additional meaning component beyond that of "mere" negation.



On 31/05/2018 20:06, Miestamo, Matti M P wrote:
> Dear David, Zygmunt and others,
>
> negative lexicalization is not quite as rare as David seems to imply. There is a cross-linguistic survey of this phenomenon by Ljuba Veselinova (ongoing work, detailed and informative presentation slides available through her website), and Zeshan (2013) has written on this phenomenon in sign languages. There's also a short summary in my recent Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology chapter on negation (preprint available via the link in the signature below).
>
> Best,
> Matti
>
> --
> Matti Miestamo
> http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~matmies/
>
>
>
>
>> Zygmunt Frajzyngier <Zygmunt.Frajzyngier at COLORADO.EDU> kirjoitti 31.5.2018 kello 17.23:
>>
>> David, Friends
>> Related to David’s post, not to the original query.
>> In any individual language, there may exist a few of ‘Not-X’ items.
>> In Mina (Central Chadic) there is a noun which designates ‘non-blacksmith’.
>> In several Chadic languages there exist negative existential verb unrelated to the affirmative existential verb.
>> Zygmunt
>>
>> On 5/31/18, 5:52 AM, "Lingtyp on behalf of David Gil" <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org on behalf of gil at shh.mpg.de> 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.
>>
>>     --
>>     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
>>
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-- 
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



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