[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu May 31 16:45:29 EDT 2018


Mark,

An analogous construction exists in many or most varieties of colloquial 
Indonesian, however it's associated with a particular and distinctive 
intonation contour.  Typically the contrast is as follows:

tau (know)
taaa[L]u[H] (I don't know)

Unlike in Tukang Besi, in Indonesian verbs are not indexed for person 
and number.  But whereas the affirmative "tau" can be associated with 
any person and number features, the negative "taaa[L]u[H]" can only be 
understood as 1st person singular.

In very few cases, this construction extends also to

mau (want)
maaa[L]u[H] (I don't want)

but for the most part it's limited to "know'.

A similar if not identical construction occurs in Tagalog with the word 
"maniwala" (believe).  With a low even tone spread over the entire 
utterance, "maniwala ako", which otherwise means "I believe", ends up 
with the opposite interpretation "I don't believe".

However, in both the Indonesian and the Tagalog, negation is marked 
suprasegmentally, in what might be called an intonational idiom.  So my 
question to you, Mark is:  when Tukang Besi "Dahani" is used to mean "I 
don't know", does it have the same intonation contour as in the 
affirmative or a different one?

David


On 31/05/2018 22:32, Mark Donohue wrote:
> 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 
> <mailto: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/
>         <http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/%7Ematmies/>
>
>
>
>
>             Zygmunt Frajzyngier <Zygmunt.Frajzyngier at COLORADO.EDU
>             <mailto: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
>             <mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on
>             behalf of gil at shh.mpg.de <mailto: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 <mailto: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 <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
>     Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
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>
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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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