[Lingtyp] "become"

Mark Donohue mark at donohue.cc
Tue Jul 7 01:13:05 UTC 2015

Following from Eva's point:
one problem is, I think, assuming that "the verb that means 'do' ", and
"the verb that means 'become' " are part of this system.
We know that verbs can be underspecified semantically (a point Eva raises);
we know that many auxiliary constructions employ semantically empty
inflectional entities, 'light verbs'.

The following Skou examples show the verb li, and its inflectional
variants, being used with a generic 'do' sense, as the inflectional member
of a N+V complex predicate. Any attempt to associate semantic content with
the verb li beyond 'verb' will fail; it simply inflects, and has no
inherently specified valency, semantics, or restrictions. One way to
characterise 'polysemies' is to think not of the extension of a meaning,
but the accretion of constructions to a semantically 'light' inflecting

Skou examples:

Ya mè=pi?
thing 2SG=2SG."do"
'What are you doing?'

Pí nì=li mè.
speech 1SG=do 2SG
'I spoke to you.'

Naké boeboe ke=li
dog growl 3SG.NF="do"
'The dog growled.'

Ke kurù ke=li.
3SG.NF teacher 3SG.NF="do"
'He became a teacher.'

Nì pá-nì=ne fèng li.
1SG house-1SG.GEN=1SG.DAT bad "do"
'My house became bad.'

Mè=angku-mè=me bápáli pe=li.
2SG=child-2SG.GEN=2SG.DAT big 3SG.F="do"
'Your daughter has grown up.'

Ke=li=ko pe=fu.
3SG.NF-"do"=OBJ 3SG.F=scared
'He frightened her.'

Pe nì=li pe pá hápa pe=tue-tue
3SG.F 1SG="do" 3SG.F house small 3SG.F=RED-3SG.F."do"
'I made her build a small house.'

Ne móe ne=yú ne ti-ti.
1PL fish 1PL=search.for 1PL RED-1PL."do"
'We're going to look for fish.'

Kóe=ing a te=rá-r-á ti.
sago=the 3PL-RED-3PL-roast 3PL."do"
'They want to roast the sago.'

í bápáli nì=fue=ko nì=li-li ka.
snake big 1SG=see=OBJ 1SG-RED-do NEG
'I don't like seeing large snakes.' (= 'When I see large snakes, I don't
want (it).'


On 6 July 2015 at 23:43, David Gil <gil at eva.mpg.de> wrote:

>  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.
> Best,
> David
> 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?’
>  *wurrguru nganthu-wu-**yu*
> devil 2SG>3SG-POT-do
> ‘you will turn into a devil’
>    1. *nga**-yunggu**-m*
>  itchy / sad 1SG>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
> --
> 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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