[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

Nick Enfield nick.enfield at sydney.edu.au
Thu May 31 19:42:17 EDT 2018


In Lao:


  1.  The verb cak2 means ‘know’, and can be negated as in man2 bòò1 cak2 [3sg neg know] ‘S/he doesn’t know.’ But when used alone, with no subject expressed, often with the perfect marker (as in cak2 or cak2 lèèw4) it means “I don’t know.”
  2.  The verb faaw4 means ‘to hurry, rush’, and can be negated as in man2 bòò1 faaw4 [3sg neg rush] ‘S/he doesn’t hurry/isn’t hurrying.’ But when used alone as an imperative, with no subject expressed, often repeated, or with an appropriate sentence-final particle (as in faaw4 faaw4 or faaw4 dee4) it means “Don’t hurry, Stop hurrying, Slow down”.
  3.  Often, both positive and negative readings of verbs are available when the irrealis prefix si is used (with context or perhaps intonation doing the work); eg khaw3 si kin3 [3pl irr eat] could mean ‘They will eat it’ or ‘They will definitely not eat it’ with a meaning similar to the colloquial English expression “As if they would eat it.” The second meaning is made more likely by insertion of the directional paj3 ‘go’ before the verb (khaw3 si paj3 kin3 [3pl irr go eat] ‘As if they would eat it.’).

Nick





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From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Mark Donohue <mark at donohue.cc>
Date: Friday, 1 June 2018 at 7:13 AM
To: David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de>
Cc: "LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG" <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

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/<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/O7N4CL7rK8t5zx0kUBCq-Q?domain=ling.helsinki.fi>



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>
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