Zero-derived delocutive

Alex Francois francois at VJF.CNRS.FR
Mon Jun 17 11:28:36 UTC 2002

Dear subscribers, dear Hans,

There is still another pattern for delocutive, which has not been explicitly mentioned so far: that is, zero derivation, by which the expression itself (interjection, etc.) comes to behave directly like a verb radical, without any derivative affix.
An example of this "zero-derived delocutive" appears in Nigel's message, 
with English /Don't darling me./, whereby the noun /darling/ becomes a transitive verb /darling s.o./. 

I guess this pattern exists in many languages, at least if their verbal morphology allows for it. 
Mwotlap, an Oceanic language spoken in Vanuatu by 1800 sp., has a similar example of delocutive formation through zero-derivation. 

As one would expect, kin terms in Mwotlap are nouns; as such, they are directly predicative (no copula), but are still distinct from verbs:
  a.. /imam/ 'Dad, father' 
            > Kê imam mino. /3sg/Dad/my/
                       'He is my father' 

  b.. /tita/ 'Mum, mother' 
            > Kê tita nônôm. /3sg/Mum/your/
                       'She is your mother' 
Now, zero-derivation allows all these nouns to become transitive verbs, with a delocutive meaning. 
  a.. /imam/ 'call s.o. Dad, treat like o.'s father' 

                 > Kêy imam no.    /3pl/Aorist:call.Dad/1sg/ 
                         'They call/view me as their father.' 
Like any other transitive verb, they are compatible with verbal morphology (reduplication, aspect-mood markers...)
  a.. /tita/   'call s.o. Mum, treat like o.'s mother' 

                 > Nitog titita kê van.
                         'Stop treating her as your mother!' 
This derivational pattern is productive only for kin terms (about twelve roots). I think I have another example with "(say) hello", but I can't find it in my fieldbooks!



Alex François
22, Chemin de la Justice
92290 Châtenay Malabry

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