[Lingtyp] verbal diminutives

Claude Hagège claude-hagege at wanadoo.fr
Tue Dec 18 21:00:30 UTC 2018

Dear all,



Among things that may be added to this interesting issue on verbal diminutives, let me mention the following :


-          Viennese German has


        ja was is-erl denn ? « Oh,  what is this ?» ;


-          Mexican Spanish has


llegand-it-o «immediately after X’s arrival »,  with a striking -it- diminutives within the gerund of llegar « to arrive »;


-          Verbal diminutives are present in languages of the five language families in India : Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic (Gorum,  Gutob, Khasi, Munda Sora, Santali, etc.)Tibeto-Burman, Andamanese ;


-          Japanese has


              usagi ga pyoko-pyoko (with palatalization, instead of unpalatalized poko-poko) hanete iru « the rabbits are                         jumping hippety-hop » : note the reduplicated onomatopaeic diminutive in English hippety-hop;  in Frenh we  have  les lapins saut-ill-ent with a diminutive marker « ill » ([iy]). It is interesting to note that many languages use here reduplication, for example (mandarin) Chinese

                         跳跃跳跃      tiàoyuè-tiàoyuè with the same meaning ;


-          Comox (Salish) uses the same  device, i.e. partial reduplication, in order to form both nominal and verbal diminutives : with nominals, it means diminutive, and with  verbals  it means progressive,  e.g.


č’e‘no « dog »   →     č’e+č’‘no  « little dog »   


~ ‘o x^It  « to cry »   →    ~ ‘o+~ ‘8^It  « to be crying » (from Claude  Hagège, Le comox lha’amen de Colombie britannique,  Amerindia, n° spécial 2, Paris Association d’Etudes Amérindiennes, 1981, 114-115).


This formal identity between verbal progressive and nominal diminutive is interesting from a  theoretical viewpoint: a process which is in progress and has not yet reached its end is treated like an object which is small with respect to the dimension of the same object in its complete form.






Claude (Claude Hagège,  Collège de France, chaire de Théorie  Linguistique, Paris)

L'absence de virus dans ce courrier électronique a été vérifiée par le logiciel antivirus Avast.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20181218/9283a4c4/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list