[Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives
Lier, Eva van
E.H.vanLier at uva.nl
Fri Dec 14 12:34:18 UTC 2018
We are looking for examples and literature on verbal diminutives in and across languages.
Currently, we have some information on verbal diminutives in various languages. Some examples include: German hüsteln (‘to cough lightly’), Italian dormicchiare (‘to doze’), Croatian grickati (‘to nibble’), Czech třepotat (‘to flutter’), Slovene igričkati (‘to play around’), Russian xaxan’kat (‘to giggle’), Finnish luk-ais-e (‘skim through (a text)’ < luk- ‘read’), San’ani Arabic tSaynai (‘to pretend not to hear’ < Saanaj ‘to not hear’), Hebrew kifcec (‘to jump around < kafac ‘to jump’), Passamaquoddy ə̆pə-ss-ìn (sit-dim-animate.intransitive.2 < ‘sit down, little one!’), Huave jujyuij (‘to shake gently’), and Lardil laala (‘to jab lightly’ < latha ‘to spear’).
These examples show that the morphological patterns that we subsume under “verbal diminutives” fulfill a number of semantic functions, such as iterative/frequentative/durative, low intensity, distributivity, and attenuation. These functions may extend (pragmatically) to playfulness, tentativeness, pretense/irrealis/fictiveness, trivialization, aimlessness, affection/intimacy, and contempt/pejorativeness. In some cases (see Passamaquoddy above), verbal diminutive marking implies that an event participant is a child or an otherwise small entity.
Also, verbal diminutives can be expressed by various morphological means, including affixation, reduplication, and non-concatenative morphology. In some cases, the verbal diminutive markers are related to nominal diminutives; in other cases, they seem to have different origins, such as spatial markers. The productivity of verbal diminutive formation apparently differs between languages.
We would be grateful for any references and/or examples of verbal diminutives in the language(s) of your expertise, including their semantics/pragmatics, formation, (diachronic) origin, productivity and usage frequency.
We will post a summary.
Many thanks in advance!
Eva van Lier, Jenny Audring, Sterre Leufkens
Eva van Lier, PhD
Department of Linguistics
University of Amsterdam
P.C.Hoofthuis, kamer 6.45
Spuistraat 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam
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