[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

Mark Donohue mark at donohue.cc
Thu May 31 16:32:37 EDT 2018


In Tukang Besi, an Austronesian language of Indonesia, the verb 'know' is
dahani; verbs are generally prefixed to agree with the S,A argument, thus

ku-dahani 'I know'
'u-dahani 'you know'

etc.
In some contexts (imperatives, emphatic generic (TAME-less) assertion), the
prefix can be omitted.

dahani 'I/you certainly know'

Now, I've heard this (and only this) verb used, in the absence of any
inflection, with exactly its opposite meaning

Dahani 'I don't know'

in what might be a sarcastic sense. Unlike the antonymic uses of many
adjectives in many languages, including English, this use of dahani is
actually a simple (though emphatic) negation of the verb's 'normal' meaning.

-Mark

On 1 June 2018 at 04:43, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> 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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