query re dyad constructions

msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Sun May 23 15:04:58 UTC 2004

Dear Colleagues,

Paolo Ramat is certainly right in connecting the so-called Dyad
constructions with dvandva composita. Dyad constructions are the
same phenomenon long known and much discussed since the 19th
century under the name "elliptic dual" and also found in
Greek, Gothic and elsewhere. "Elliptic dual" was said to consist
in the expressing of the conception of a pair of commonly-
associated nouns by the use of the only one of them in the dual
form. Such usage is known of proper names, nouns of symmetric or
asymmetric relation, animates, inanimates &c. (Mentioning symmetric
relation in this context is consequently irrelevant for the general
study of such constructions).
This construction is plentifully attested in Classical Arabic,
well recognized by the Arab grammarians, who called it "al-
muthannà 'alà l-taghlib" [Dualis a potiori] and made known to
Western scholars (i.a.) in a monograph by M. Grünert, "Die Begriffs-
Präponderanz und die Duale a potiori im Altarabischen", Wien
1886 [Sitzungsberichte der phil.-hist. Classe der kais. Akademie
der Wissenschaften 110 (1885),2, 559-596]. Arabic examples quoted
everywhere are those like "al-qamara:ni" [the two moons = the sun
and the moon], "al-mashriqa:ni" [the two easts = East and West, the
whole world], "al-Fura:ta:ni" [the two Euphrates-rivers = the Euphrates
and the Tigris], "al-'Umara:ni" [the two 'Umars = Abu: Bakr and
'Umar (the two first Khalifas)].
This is one of several ways to mark collectively for number (dual or
plural) unequal conjoined nouns or pronouns, and it can rather be
studied as part of that general chapter.

                       Yours with best regards,
                                                 Gideon Goldenberg.

>    Dear Nick,  enclosed you may find the text of your article with  a
>suggestion I have added to it.  

 Best wishes, Paolo

>   ----- Original Message -----    From:    Nick Evans       To:
>LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG       Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 4:56 AM
>Subject: query re dyad  constructions
>   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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