[Lingtyp] Coexpression of source and agent

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Sat Jul 21 10:20:00 UTC 2018

Dear all,

A side comment on terminology: The term "syncretism" is not only opaque, 
ugly and ambiguous (it originally referred to merging of case 
distinctions in Indo-European, which was likened to religious 
syncretism, in a strange metaphor; it can still have this purely 
diachronic meaning referring to Indo-European cases) -- it is also 
impractical because it does not have a good corresponding verb (cf. 
??"Malay /dari/ syncretizes source and agent").

Moreover, it is typically associated with inflection (cf. the Surrey 
definition: " The term 'syncretism' refers to the phenomenon whereby a 
single form fulfils two or more different functions within the 
inflectional morphology of a language": 

(And syncretism seems to have been construed as a relation between 
forms: cf. the original title of this thread "syncretism between forms 
encoding source and agent" -- a very cumbersome formulation.)

I would like to propose replacing the term "syncretism" by 
"coexpression" when it is not used in a context of inflectional 
morphology (and maybe also in that context). The term "coexpression" is 
transparent and clear -- and it can be used for all kinds of situations 
where one form corresponds to two meanings or functions.

It has the transparent corresponding verb "coexpress": "Malay /dari/ 
coexpresses source and agent".

This term was first used in our 2014 paper on semantic role coexpression 
patterns (Hartmann et al. 2014), and was taken up in David Gil's recent 
paper on DO/GIVE coexpression. It was inspired by Alex François's (2008) 
term "colexification" (also used in Johann-Mattis List's new CLLD 
database on colexifications: http://clics.clld.org/).

A colexification pattern is just a special kind of coexpression pattern 
-- and one might also want to coin the term "coexponence" for 
inflectional morphology, for a situation where a single vocabulary item 
coexpones two feature values; i.e. for what has been known as 
"inflectional syncretism".

Finally, a semantic map could be called a "coexpression map", allowing 
us to be neutral between different interpretations (cf. different terms 
such as "conceptual map", "cognitive map", "implicational map", which 
will confuse many students).




François, Alexandre. 2008. Semantic maps and the typology of 
colexification: Intertwining polysemous networks across languages. In 
Martine Vanhove (ed.), /From polysemy to semantic change: Towards a 
typology of lexical semantic associations/ (Studies in Language 
Companion Series 106), 163--216. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Hartmann, Iren, Martin Haspelmath & Michael Cysouw. 2014. Identifying 
semantic role clusters and alignment types via microrole coexpression 
tendencies. /Studies in Language/ 38(3). 463--484.

On 21.07.18 11:47, David Gil wrote:
> In Malay/Indonesian, the ablative "from" is expressed with /dari/. And 
> in some but not all varieties of Malay/Indonesian, /dari/ is also used 
> to mark agents, typically, though not exclusively, in "passive" or 
> "passive-like" constructions.
> More specifically, the use of /dari/ to mark agents is characteristic 
> of Eastern contact varieties of Malay; I have heard it in, among other 
> places, Papua, Halmahera, Ambon, Maluku Tenggara and Timor.  And it is 
> also attested in the Kirinda subdialect of Sri Lankan Malay.
> (It should be noted that in many such cases, /dari/ is but one of two 
> or more alternative strategies for flagging agent phrases.)
> David
> On 21/07/2018 01:06, Ponrawee Prasertsom wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> I am exploring research possibilities on the language of motion events.
>> Does anyone know of a language that employs the same form (in any 
>> strategy--case, preposition, syntactic roles etc.) that for coding 
>> source (the starting point in a motion event, as in: I walked *from* 
>> my house to school) and agent?
>> Related references would also be highly appreciated.
>> Sincerely,
>> Ponrawee Prasertsom
>> Graduate Student
>> Department of Linguistics
>> Chulalongkorn University
>> Bangkok, Thailand
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
> -- 
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
> Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
> Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
> _______________________________________________
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> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10	
D-07745 Jena
Leipzig University
IPF 141199
Nikolaistrasse 6-10
D-04109 Leipzig

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