query: grammaticalization go/be.in > negation

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Jan 31 04:29:38 UTC 2013

Dear all,

In English motherese, the expression 'allgone' is often used to express 
a negative concept involving the disappearance or absence of an entity 
previously present.

I am interested in ascertaining how common or rare it is, 
cross-linguistically, for a verb of motion (eg. 'go') or location (eg. 
'be in') to undergo extension of meaning, or grammaticalization, to 
express various negative concepts, as in the above 'allgone' example.

The reason behind this query is as follows.  In Roon (an Austronesian 
language of West Papua), the same verb has a range of meanings which 
includes 'be in' and 'disappear'.  (The logic behind this would seem to 
be that if something goes or is located somewhere else, then it is no 
longer here.)   In addition, the stem on which this verb is based is 
also used to form negative imperatives.  I am currently trying to figure 
out whether to analyze this in terms of macrofunctionality, polysemy, or 
accidental homophony, so whether similar patterns are attested 
cross-linguistically would be of relevance to the choice of analysis.

Looking forward to any responses,


David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

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