the term conative

Martin Kümmel mjkuemmel at WEB.DE
Tue Nov 27 06:28:04 UTC 2012

Dear colleagues,

In just this sense "de conatu" was already a traditional term for one reading of the classical Greek imperfect (and other IE imperfects as well).
The Sanskrit "desiderative" (a special verb stem characterized by reduplication and a suffix) can also convey the sense of trying to do something, cf. the monograph of F. Heenen (Le désidératif en Vedique. Amsterdam  / New York, 2006) who, however, considers its main function to be "prospective".
I'm looking for more.

Martin Kümmel

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] Im Auftrag von Hannu Tommola
Gesendet: Dienstag, 27. November 2012 06:41
Betreff: Re: the term conative

Dear Nigel and all,

in Slavic aspectology 'conative' is used as a term referring to one use or one interpretation of the imperfective aspect, especially in the case of achievement verbs like ipf. ubedit'/ pf. ubezhdat'  
'convince', e.g.:

Ja dolgo ubezhdal     ego, no  ne  ubedil
I  long  convince.ipf him  but NEG
'I tried to convince him, but did not success'


Quoting Nigel Vincent <nigel.vincent at MANCHESTER.AC.UK>:

> Dear Colleagues,
> I'm interested in uses of the term 'conative'. I have seen it used to 
> describe case alternations equivalent to the difference in English 
> between 'he shot the bear' and 'he shot at the bear', for example in 
> languages like Warlpiri, and Kiparsky has suggested an affinity 
> between the Warlpiri pattern and the alternation between accusative 
> and partitive objects in Finnish. The latter are also sometimes called 
> irresultative. What I am finding it harder to get examples of are 
> instances of conative as a label for verb inflections or periphrases. 
> Matthews' Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics says the term can 
> be used for verb inflections with the meaning 'try to' but he doesn't 
> cite any languages which have this phenomenon. I'd be grateful 
> therefore for any other languages that colleagues can point me to 
> which exhibit a conative construction in this second sense. 
> Aikhenvald's grammar of Tariana identifies a complex predicate 
> construction which she calls 'irresultative' and which comes close: as 
> she says such complex predicates 'describe actions or states which do 
> not quite amount to what they ought to', though in her examples there 
> doesn't seem to be any necessary implication of trying.
> Thanks,
> Nigel
> P.S. I'm assuming that Jakobson's use of the term 'conative' to 
> describe one of the functions of language is something altogether 
> different.
> Professor Nigel Vincent, FBA
> Professor Emeritus of General & Romance Linguistics The University of 
> Manchester
> Vice-President for Research & HE Policy, The British Academy
> Linguistics & English Language
> School of Arts, Languages and Cultures The University of Manchester 
> Manchester M13 9PL UK

Hannu Tommola, Professor of Russian Language (Translation Theory and Practice) School of Language, Translation and Literary Studies
FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Phone: +358-(0)3-3551 6102

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