[Lingtyp] query: 'give' and 'do'/'make'

giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it
Wed Feb 18 11:08:39 UTC 2015

I fully concur. That's actually what I meant by my 


Dr. Giorgio Francesco Arcodia
Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione
Edificio U6 - stanza 4101
Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
20126 Milano

Tel.: (+39) 02 6448 4946(+39) 02 6448 4946
Fax: (+39) 02 6448 4863
E-mail: giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it
On Wed, 18 Feb 2015 20:05:23 +0900
 David Gil <gil at eva.mpg.de> wrote:
> 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'.
> David
> 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.
> -- 
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550333
> Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
> Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

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