[Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives

Maia Ponsonnet maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au
Sat Dec 15 03:38:06 UTC 2018

Dear Eva,

Marine Vuillermet and I have just edited a special issue of Studies in Language on "Morphology and emotions across the world's languages" (42:1, 2018), and there's a fair bit in there on verbal diminutives.

Here are links to the table of contents and to the intro



You will find discussions of verbal diminutives in Nemeth & Sores's paper but also in practically all the papers that deal with diminutives (eg Guillaume p. 122-123, Rose, Taine-Cheikh, Vanhove; see intro).

Here's also a link to the typology of emotional values of diminutives and augmentatives (first article in the issue):


Finally, you can find discussions of verbal diminutives in Dalabon (Gunwinyguan, non-Pama-nyungan, Australia) in:

Ponsonnet, Maïa and Nicholas Evans. 2015. Dalabon, in Grandi N. and Kortvelyessy L. eds., The Edinburgh Handbook of Evaluative Morphology, 401-407. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


With a more detailed version in Chapter 4 (p. 81ff) of

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2014. The language of emotions: The case of Dalabon (Australia). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Collection Cognitive Linguistic Studies in Cultural Contexts. 466 p.


I'm happy to send more PDFs etc. if needed.

Kind regards,


Dr Maïa Ponsonnet
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Fellow

Social Sciences Building, Room 2.36
Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Hwy, Perth, WA (6009), Australia
P.  +61 (0) 8 6488 2870 - M.  +61 (0) 468 571 030

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Lier, Eva van <E.H.vanLier at uva.nl>
Sent: Friday, 14 December 2018 8:34 PM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: [Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives

Dear colleagues,

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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