John Peterson jpeterso at UNI-OSNABRUECK.DE
Wed Jul 25 09:57:44 UTC 2001

VYAKARAN: South Asian Languages and Linguistics Net
Editors:  Tej K. Bhatia, Syracuse University, New York
          John Peterson, University of Munich, Germany
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Hello Peter,

Thanks for the reply. As the saying goes, "Great minds think alike"

It was precisely for this reason that I am looking for a Grundbedeutung of
the middle voice - is it possible to find one? I wouldn't be surprised to
find some basic criterion for the "middle", at least in the earlier stages
of the language (perhaps "intransitive", perhaps "reflexive" or whatever),
but I've never seen one. However, I am convinced that if there was at some
earlier stage a Grundbedeutung for the middle, it was eventually lost -
along with the morphologically marked middle voice itself (perhaps for this
very reason?).
Although I see no necessity for there being  a Grundbedeutung tying all
instances of a morphological form together, there is still the question (at
least for me) of how this situation ever arose in the first place if there
wasn't one. Before closing out the possibility of there having been one, I'd
like to see if anyone has ever proposed a convincing semantic or lexical
basis for the middle in OIA (or Indo-European, for that matter).

Thanks  for the reference to Lakoff!

All the best,

> Hello, John
>         For the notion of "radial category", which undermines the
> plausibility of Grundbedeutung, you might want to look at the discussion
> of the Japanese classifier "hon" in Lakoff's 'Women, Fire and Dangerous
> Things'.  Brugman's work on "over", to my mind, also casts doubt on the
> necessity of a single Grundbedeutung tying together all instances of a
> morphological or lexical form.
>         All the best,
>                 Peter

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