[Lingtyp] "become"

David Gil gil at eva.mpg.de
Mon Jul 6 13:43:15 UTC 2015

Dear Eva,

Thanks for this valuable contribution.

I suspect that languages of the small Biakic subgroup of Austronesian 
(Biak, Roon and Dusner) might provide a counterexample to your proposed 
generalization, but I'm not entirely sure of this. What is clear is that 
the form in question, "be", expresses 'give', 'make'/'do', 'become' and 
causation, without any valency-changing marking.  (One qualification: in 
Biak but not Roon or Dusner, the 'make'/'do' function of "be" has been 
largely but apparently not entirely replaced by another lexical item, 
"frur".)  What I am not yet clear about is whether the causative 
function of "be" in these languages is limited to what you refer to 
internal causation. I suspect that it is not, but will need to 
double-check this; I'm grateful to you for driving home the importance 
of this distinction.

For some more information on the causative function of "be" in Biak, I 
would recommend a look at pp. 392-396 of:

Heuvel, Wilco van den (2006) Biak, Description of an Austronesian 
Language of Papua, LOT, Utrecht.



On 06/07/2015 04:46, Eva Schultze-Berndt wrote:
> Dear David and all,
> A do/become polysemy (even without detransitivisation operations of 
> any sort) is attested in various languages – I have described it for 
> the Australian (W. Mirndi) language Jaminjung (Schultze-Berndt 2000: 
> Ch 5) and more generally in (Schultze-Berndt 2008), where I also 
> mention Samoan (Mosel & Hovdhaugen 1992: 113) and Yimas (Foley 1991: 
> 293-300).
> In the 2008 paper I argue that the notion of ‘internal causation’, as 
> per Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1994, 1995), can account for these 
> diverse uses of ‘do’ verbs as well as additional uses attested 
> cross-linguistically, e.g. with translation equivalents of ‘happen’, 
> ‘feel’, and ‘exhibit property’. That is, verbs like these do not have 
> the semantic component of agentivity and control associated with ‘do’ 
> verbs in an SAE perspective (and consequently with a primitive 
> predicate ‘DO’ in various decompositional semantic frameworks!) but 
> rather encode that a participant manifests an event, a state change, a 
> quality or a condition which corresponds to an inherent property of 
> this participant. (Cf. Levin & Rappaport Hovav’s (1995: 91) definition 
> of internally caused eventualities as “conceptualised as arising from 
> inherent properties of their arguments”, applied by them to English 
> verbs like /tremble/ or /glitter/).
> In Jaminjung, the inchoative use of the verb is indeed restricted to 
> internally caused state changes, e.g. ‘become big’ = ‘grow’, ‘become 
> night’, or ‘turn into a devil’ (see ex. below). State changes like 
> ‘break’ or ‘open’ – corresponding to what Levin & Rappaport Hovav 
> (1995) term ‘externally caused state changes’ – are encoded in 
> Jaminjung by complex verbs which are formed with a different verb, 
> ‑/ijga/ ‘go’. This is the pattern I would predict for other languages 
> with a ‘do’ / ‘become’ “polysemy” (without valency change), but I 
> would be interested to learn otherwise.
> Examples from Jaminjung are below. The same verb functions as a 
> generalised action verb and a speech framing verb with quotations (a 
> polysemy widespread in Australian languages), an inchoative verb which 
> encodes the transition into a state or class, as well as a light verb 
> with predicates of internal motion, light/sound emission, and physical 
> or emotional condition. (It does not function as a verb of creation 
> (‘make’) though):
>  1. //
>  2. /    yurru-wu-/*/yu/*
> do.what=now? 1PL.INCL>3SG-POT-do
> ‘what are we going to do?’
> /wurrgurunganthu-wu-/*/yu/*
> devil 2SG>3SG-POT-do
> ‘you will turn into a devil’
>  1. /nga/*/-yunggu/*/-m/
> itchy / sad1SG>3SG-do-PRS
> ‘I am/feel itchy/sad’ (lit.: ‘I do itchy / sad’)
> Jaminjung also uses the ‘give’ verb to form the reflexive/reciprocal 
> of ‘say’ since the ‘say/do’ verb is defective in this respect (details 
> also in Schultze-Berndt 2000).
> Foley, William A. (1991). /The Yimas language of New Guinea/. 
> Stanford: Stanford University Press.
> Levin, Beth, and Malka Rappaport Hovav (1994). 'A preliminary analysis 
> of causative verbs in English'. /Lingua, 92/, 35-77.
> Levin, Beth and Malka Rappaport Hovav (1995). /Unaccusativity: at the 
> syntax-lexical semantics interface/. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
> Mosel, Ulrike & Even Hovdhaugen (1992). /Samoan Reference Grammar. 
> /Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.
> Schultze-Berndt, Eva (2000). /Simple and complex verbs in Jaminjung: A 
> study of event categorisation in an Australian language./ (PhD), 
> University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
> Schultze-Berndt, Eva (2008). 'What do “do” verbs do? The semantic 
> diversity of generalised action verbs', in Elisabeth Verhoeven, 
> Stavros Skopeteas, Yong-Min Shin, Yoko Nishina and Johannes Helmbrecht 
> (eds.), /Studies on Grammaticalization/. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 
> 185-208.
> Best,
> Eva
> -------------------------------------------------------
> Eva Schultze-Berndt
> Professor of Linguistics
> Linguistics and English Language
> School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
> The University of Manchester
> Oxford Road
> M13 9PL
> Manchester, UK
> E-mail: eva.schultze-berndt at manchester.ac.uk
> Office (summer 2015): S1.09b, Samuel Alexander Building
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Lingtyp [lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] on behalf 
> of Lewis Lawyer [lclawyer at ucdavis.edu]
> *Sent:* 04 July 2015 00:37
> *To:* LingTyp
> *Subject:* Re: [Lingtyp] "become"
> Dear David,
> Another example for you---not a historical source so much as a 
> synchronic derivation:
> In Patwin (Wintuan family, Penutian "superfamily", of California) the 
> verb /lelu/ 'make' can be reflexivized to express the meaning 
> 'become'.  Similar to Dr. Dryer's Walman example, but with 'make' 
> rather than 'do' (/lelu/ never means 'do' in Patwin).  Also perhaps 
> more agentive than prototypical 'become', though sometimes translated 
> that way.
> (1)  ču   pi        depi   no:p lelu-nana-t'i.
>       I     DECL  also   deer    make-REFL-FUT
>      'I'm going to turn into a deer too.'  (Whistler 1977:169)
> (2)  k'učiʔa-ro         p'o:rma-ro    bo: win          
> lelu-nan-mu            [...]
>       small-PTCP     bad-PTCP   be      person make-REFL-SBJV
>      (He) made himself a small and ugly person.  (Radin MS:103)
> Whistler, Kenneth W.  1977.  Deer and Bear Children. Speakers: Nora 
> Lowell and Harry Lorenzo.  In Northern California Texts, edited by 
> Victor Golla and Shirley Silver, 158-179. International Journal of 
> American Linguistics Native American Texts Series 2(2). Chicago: 
> University of Chicago Press.
> Radin, Paul.  MS.  Patwin Texts.  Collected 1932, from speaker 
> Anderson Lowell.  In the American Council of Learned Societies 
> Committee on Native American Languages, American Philosophical 
> Society. Call number: 497.3 B63c P4b6-7.
> Cheers,
> -Lewis
> -- 
> Lewis C. Lawyer
> PhD Candidate in Linguistics
> University of California, Davis
> lclawyer at ucdavis.edu <mailto:lclawyer at ucdavis.edu>

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

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