delocutive morphology

Gideon Goldenberg msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Fri Jun 14 02:00:31 UTC 2002

Dear Colleagues,
Verbal compounds with "say" are a common phenomenon, specially wide-
spread, e.g., as an areal feature of North-East-African languages,
Semitic and Cushitic (sporadically found in no few other languages), but
Frans Plank's question was about delocutive morphology, not about verbal
syntagms. Verbs 'dérivés de locutions' by morphological means are not
unknown in Arabic, where the derivation is made as for all other verbs
by root and pattern. Delocutive roots are extracted from sayings
comprising two, three, four, five, or even six words, by selecting
some consonants (usually four) from those words to represent the locution,
then such roots would be treated as any other normal quadriradical. Most
common are "basmala" [root: bsml](from b-ismi lla:h 'in the name of God')
and "Hamdala" [root: Hmdl](from al-Hamdu li-lla:h 'praise [be] to God').
Others are "sam&ala" [root: sm&l] (from as-sala:m &alayk 'peace [be] upon
you'), "Talbaqa" [root: Tlbq] (from 'aTa:la lla:h baqa:ka 'may God prolong
your duration [alive]'), "Hawlaqa" [root: Hwlq] or "Hawqala" [root: Hwql]
(from la: Hawla wa-la: quwwata 'illa bi-lla:h 'there is no power and no
strength save in God'), "Hay&ala" [root: Hy&l] (from Hayya &ala s-salla:h
'come to prayer!'), "haylala" [root: hyll] or "hallala" [root: hll] (from
the saying la: ila:h 'illa lla:h 'there is no god except Allah') and others.
Where roots could be (and have been) regarded as delocutive being derived
from one-word locution, such derivation would mostly rely only on imagining
some speech act expressing the same idea as the verb.
In Hebrew there is a verb "ziha" (infinitive: "lezahot") [root: zhy]
'identify' (< say "ze" 'this'); "hinhen" (say "hen, hen" 'yes, yes' or so)
means actually 'shake the head for "yes"' rather than 'say "yes"'.
From such delocutive roots, substantives and adjectives are ordinarily
formed as in all other cases.
As to the term "delocutive" we may note that almost half a century before
it was employed by Emile Benveniste for verbs derived from locutions, the
same term had been known from Damourette & Pichon's monumental grammar in
quite another sense, viz. "3rd person", besides "locutif" for "1st person"
and "allocutif" for "2nd person".
                                            Yours,      Gideon Goldenberg

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