[Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives
francois at vjf.cnrs.fr
Tue Dec 18 11:43:41 UTC 2018
dear Eva, dear all,
Indeed the polysemy of reduplication is often fascinating, due to its
In Mwotlap (Oceanic, Vanuatu) reduplication can encode diminutive
(1) n-ēy 'lobster'
=> n-*ēyēy* 'prawn' [Diminutive reading]
(2) n-ēm̄ *liwo *=> n-ēm̄ *lililwo*
/Art-house large/ /Art-house large~RED/
'a large house' => a) 'a very large house' [Intensive reading]
b) 'many large houses' [Plural reading]
(3) na-qyan̄ 'a hole' (typically one large hole, e.g. 2-feet wide)
na-*qyaqyan̄* 'many small holes' (e.g. on a sieve)
[Note: Mwotlap doesn't encode grammatical plural on non-human referents;
so the plural reading is here implied by lexical derivation, rather than
being a grammatical plural. Some human nouns form their grammatical plural
Used with verbs, reduplication can encode such values as distributional,
pluractional, iterative, habitual, imperfective, intensional.
These uses of reduplication are exemplified and discussed in a paper (available
here <http://alex.francois.online.fr/AFpub_articles_e.htm#10> under 2004*a*)
where I tried to address the semantic fluidity of reduplication:
- François, Alexandre. 2004. *La réduplication en mwotlap : les
paradoxes du fractionnement*.
In É. Zeitoun (ed.),* Les langues austronésiennes*. Special issue of *Faits
de langues* n°24: 177–194.
(My reflection was inspired by Francesc Queixalós' notion of
"distensivity", cited earlier on in this thread.)
In a nutshell, I proposed to describe the effect of reduplication in
Mwotlap as a form of *semantic fragmentation* ["fractionnement"].
If you take a large biscuit and smash it, you end up with
- *less than* a biscuit (= lots of small pieces of a biscuit, none of
which is a full one)
- *more than* a biscuit (= lots of small biscuits)
This could be called the paradox of the Magical pocket
The effects of reduplication on verbs also are similarly versatile, and can
be understood as also reflecting a form of (notional, abstract)
Thus, the simple form *tot* 'chop' refers to a single (semelfactive) act of
chopping, typically understood as complete [e.g. chopping off a branch in a
Its reduplicated counterpart *totot* will, iconically, describe a series of
(mini-) chopping events, which can be understood as:
- pluractional, iterative
(several acts of chopping; chopping off several branches)
(considerable amount of chopping)
- tentative / conative
(many attempts, typically unsuccessful, at chopping at smtg)
("chopping" as a habitual activity, e.g. describing the work of a
(infinitive, nominalisation, non-finite: the notion of chopping, as
opposed to the description of a single referential ["extensional"] act)
- imperfective aspect
(describing an ongoing, and hence incomplete, action of chopping)
- atelic / detransitivised uses
- *tot* = telic, transitive;
- *totot* = atelic, labile (possibly intransitive)
>> used in antipassive-like constructions with incorporated object,
referring to the activity. [cf. Mithun 1984]
These verbal uses of reduplication can sometimes be understood as "
*augmentative*" in a way, through their pluractional / iterative /
intensive readings. But in a different way, they are also akin to "
*diminutives*": because instead of a nice, massive one-stroke act of
chopping, reduplication can refer to repeated, possibly unsuccessful,
mini-acts of quasi-chopping. As per the paradox of the Magical pocket.
LaTTiCe <http://lattice.cnrs.fr/Francois-Alexandre?lang=en> — CNRS–
Australian National University
Academia page <https://cnrs.academia.edu/AlexFran%C3%A7ois> – Personal
On Tue, 18 Dec 2018 at 09:37, Françoise Rose <francoise.rose at univ-lyon2.fr>
> Here is another such discussion :
> Queixalós, Francesc. 2002. “Sur la distensivité”, in *Mémoires de la
> Société de Linguistique de Paris*: XII.La pluralité.
> *De :* Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> *De la part de*
> Zygmunt Frajzyngier
> *Envoyé :* lundi 17 décembre 2018 04:25
> *À :* Bill Palmer <bill.palmer at newcastle.edu.au>; Lier, Eva van <
> E.H.vanLier at uva.nl>; lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> *Objet :* Re: [Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives
> Hi, Bill,
> You will find an early discussion of the plurality/diminutive function of
> reduplication in:
> Frajzyngier, Zygmunt. 1965. An analysis of intensive forms in Hausa verbs. *Rocznik
> Orientalistyczny* 29.2.31-51.
> All best,
> *From: *Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of
> Bill Palmer <bill.palmer at newcastle.edu.au>
> *Date: *Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 2:06 PM
> *To: *"Lier, Eva van" <E.H.vanLier at uva.nl>, "
> lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org" <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [Lingtyp] query: verbal diminutives
> Hi Eva
> I’ve been doing some work recently on verbal number/pluractionality,
> particularly in some previously uninvestigated Papuan languages and in
> North American languages, and I’ve been struck by the fact that in some
> languages the pluractional morphology seems to give a diminutive reading
> instead of the verbal number meaning. This intersection between verbal
> number and diminutives is something that has not been investigated, to my
> knowledge, so I’m very pleased to hear of your project. I suggest thinking
> explicitly about verbal number, and I think it would be worth considering
> that the proposed aspectual functions you mention are actual verbal number,
> not aspect. It seems to me that some of the examples you give may be verbal
> number, not diminutive. The Hebrew example seems to conform to that. The
> four Slavic examples, Croatian, Czech, Slovene and Russian, might also be –
> I’d be interested in knowing what the underived verbs mean in those cases,
> and ditto with the Huave example. Maybe you and I could have a chat about
> this at some point. I’d be interested in hearing more about what you’re
> *From:* Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> *On Behalf Of
> *Lier, Eva van
> *Sent:* Friday, 14 December 2018 11:34 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
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
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