[Lingtyp] query: 'give' and 'do'/'make'
gil at eva.mpg.de
Wed Feb 18 11:05:23 UTC 2015
Several comments in this thread highlight a recurring difficulty in
talking about semantics, namely that in using words from a particular
natural language (usually English) as our metalanguage, we often
unintentionally buy in to various idiosyncratic properties of the
natural-language words that we use to represent these meanings. My
original query was of course guilty in not making clear that what I
trying to refer to was abstract meanings rather than the exact ranges of
meanings that happen to be expressed by English "give", "do" and
"make". This issue arose earlier with the case of causatives, which, in
some languages are expressed by the same word that also expresses the
'give' or 'do'/'make' meaning, and it arises also in the case of Russian
'davaj' and Italian 'dài' below. Specifically, if these words, whose
basic meaning is 'give', also have a derived exhortative meaning, and if
English "do" also has an exhortative meaning (not sure that it does, but
let's say so, for the sake of argument), then yes, in Russian and
Italian, in certain specific contexts, a word whose basic meaning is
'give' may translate into English with the word "do", whose basic
meaning is 'do'. But this does not entail that in Russian and Italian,
there is a single word that has the basic meanings that, for lack of a
better, language-independent metalanguage, we refer to with the English
'give' and 'do'/'make'.
On 18/02/2015 19:47, giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it wrote:
> If I may chime in, the use of 'davaj' (da-vaj give.IMPF-IMP.2SG) in
> Russian is pretty close to the use of 'dài' / 'dai' (da-i
> give-IMP.2SG) in Italian.
> In Italian, it is (to me) an all-purpose exhortative form, which could
> be 'do', but also 'hurry up', 'cut it out', etc.
> Giorgio F. A.
Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
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Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
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