query re dyad constructions

Nick Evans nrde at UNIMELB.EDU.AU
Sun May 23 02:56:11 UTC 2004

Dear Colleagues, I am currently preparing an 
article on 'Dyad constructions' for the 
Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics. I 
enclose pdf and Word versions of the draft of 
this article, as well as a pdf file listing the 
languages known to me so far in which Dyad 
constructions are attested. The paragraph pasted 
in below summarizes what dyad constructions are.

So far I have the impression that the worldwide 
distribution of dyad constructions is heavily 
skewed, with a strong concentration in the 
Western Pacific (especially Australia, 
Austronesian, Papuan) with sporadic attestation 
in western north America, the Amazon, the 
Caucasus, Siberia and Khoisan. However, this may 
be an artefact of my own areas of knowledge, of 
the book holdings in our library here, or of 
particular descriptive traditions. I would 
therefore be very grateful if any subscribers to 
this list were able to extend the list of 
languages (and of course further data on 
construction types etc.) beyond what I have 
included in these files.

Yours gratefully, Nick Evans

Dyad constructions denote relationally-linked 
groups of the type 'pair/group of brothers' or 
'mother and child(ren)'. They may be formed by 
morphological derivation, as with Kayardild 
(Australian) ngamathu-ngarrb 'mother and child' < 
ngamathu 'mother', or they may be unanalyseable 
lexical roots , such as Mianmin (Papuan) lum  
'father and child'. Though they most commonly 
refer to pairs, as in the above examples, they 
may also refer to larger groups, e.g. Mianmin 
lum-wal  'father and children'. Where a 
dual-plural contrast exists, the dual dyad is 
usually formally unmarked (§3). Though the above 
languages have dedicated dyad forms, it is more 
common for dyadic constructions to overlap 
formally with other categories, most commonly 
reciprocals, proprietive or possessive 
constructions, or pair markers (§4). Dyad 
constructions display a notably skewed 
geographical distribution, being concentrated in 
the language families of the Western Pacific, 
with only scattered occurrences elsewhere (§5).
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