[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu May 31 15:48:13 EDT 2018


Martin,

In principle they shouldn't be more surprising.  But the devil's in the 
semantics.  In all of the examples that you cite, the irregularity of 
the "suppletive" forms is purely formal. Semantically,

"worse" is to "bad" as "warmer" is to "warm"
"yeux" is to "oeil" as "oreilles" is to "oreille"
"fui" is to "ir" as "salí" is to "salir"

Not so in the examples of negation under discussion. Semantically,

"bad" is NOT to "good" as "not purple" is to "purple"
"belum" (NEG.PFCT) is NOT to "sudah" (PFCT) as "tidak pergi" (NEG go) is 
to "pergi" (go)

In cases like the above, suppletive form comes part and parcel with 
additional meaning.  True, there will be cases where the suppletive 
lexicalized negative IS devoid of any additional meaning.  One likely 
source for such cases is that of existential markers, such as the 
following example that I mentioned earlier from Tagalog, where, 
semantically,

"wala" (NEG.EXIST) is to "may" (EXIST) as "hindi pumunta" (NEG went) is 
to "pumunta" (went)

My point is simply that such cases are relatively few.

Moreover, as a kind of mirror-image to the above Tagalog example, you 
also find cases — which I mentioned earlier in this thread — where there 
is no formal irregularity, but where the would-be negator is not a 
regular negator but rather a marker of antonymity. Thus, semantically 
(under the most common reading of "not good":

"not good" is NOT to "good" as "not purple" is to "purple"

(For "not purple" to work like "not good", ie. as a marker of 
antonymity, "not purple" would have to mean "yellow"!)

David

BTW I'm intruiged by Zygmunt's Mina example of "not-blacksmith". Is 
"blacksmith" really of such high frequency?  And what kinds of things 
are "not-blacksmiths"?  Frogs? Yams? Ballpens?



On 31/05/2018 21:17, Martin Haspelmath wrote:
> David, are single-morph expressions that combine "content meaning + 
> negation" in any way more surprising than other single-morph 
> expressions that combine "content meaning + grammatical meaning"?
>
> It's not uncommon that languages have a few unanalyzable 
> high-frequency expressions of the latter type, typically called 
> "suppletive", e.g.
>
> – property concept plus comparative meaning: warm/warm-er vs. bad/worse
> – thing concept plus plural meaning: French oreille/oreille-s vs. 
> œil/yeux
> – action concept plus past tense meaning: Spanish salir/sal-í vs. ir/fui
>
> This happens occasionally with all kinds of grammatical meanings (and 
> always with high-frequency content meanings) – why shouldn't it happen 
> with negation as well?
>
> Martin
>
> On 31.05.18 20:43, David Gil wrote:
>> 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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