[Lingtyp] collective action marking

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 07:55:34 UTC 2018

All I intended to contribute here (in my earlier message) was that English
"co-" seems relevant for comparison. The rest is probably tangential, as
may be my reply below.

But I'm puzzled by a few points in your response, David:

First, (1) > (1') is a valid inference, if we interpret "write" in the
sense that "cowrite" is interpreted-- as part of the writing process. This
is especially easy as an inference with the progressive (as in your
example), although I can see why "Mary wrote the article" is strange, but
still may be valid depending on how loosely we interpret "write" in
academia ("Mary can say she has now written something in [the journal]
*Language*?"), so I think some of the quirkiness here comes from how we use
the term "cowrite" in academia in contrast to "write" although that is not
strictly necessary. The distinction is probably a pragmatic one, where
"cowrite" somehow has supplied an expectation of "not by oneself", whereas
likewise "coexist" does not have an inference of "exist by itself" in your
(3), etc. In summary, there are some tricky details related to lexical
aspect, grammatical aspect, and other factors, but I think, broadly
speaking, those examples behave similarly. (Oddly, I'm actually arguing
'against myself' here because you suggest that cowrite is the strongest in
support of my argument, but I'll address that in the point below.)

Second, you're correct that my phrasing may have been misleading: remove
the word "exactly" if you wish, or more relevantly reinterpret what I said
as referring to a cluster of related meanings. It's broadly the same as the
other examples from other languages, and I'd like to emphasize how much
variability (e.g., reflexive, reciprocal) there is in the examples given
for other languages just in the emails in the current conversation. I don't
think English is more variable than others. That's what I meant by English
"co-" being the same-- it functions similarly. Most importantly, what I
meant to point out is that this isn't some exotic function only found in
unfamiliar languages. Randy didn't give any examples from Kyrgyz in the
first email, but I imagine some of them would translate into English
relatively naturally with "co-".

Third, no one has directly responded to what I said about the semantics of
"coexpress", and *I welcome any counter examples where "co-" indicates
"variably"* rather than "together" (or "at the same time"). I'm not aware
of any. If there are some, then "coexpression" could fit that model. None
in your message, nor given by others, have the "alternatively"
interpretation. "Corefer" does not refer to ambiguous interpretations;
"coexist" does not refer to an electron being a wave and a particle;
"costar" does not refer to a single actor playing multiple roles. And so
forth. (Your opaque examples also mean "together" etymologically, not
"alternatively".) Martin's closest parallel suggestion was "coapply" but
that still means "together", not "alternatively"-- to coapply glue and tape
does not mean choosing one or the other in a particular context, but to do
both. [Another example might be "coteach" which could mean either (most
often) share teaching of a course together with someone, or (less
obviously) teach two topics in a single course, but never to teach two
different topics in different or alternating semesters.] "Coexpress" can
literally never actually express both things at the same time, whereas all
other "co-" words I can think of entail doing something "together"-- which
likewise is a "collective" interpretation (yes, vaguely with slight
variation, as noted above).

Additionally, some of the differences you suggest may be related to the
fact that English collectives with "co-" do not require a plural subject, a
point of cross-linguistic variation I mentioned in my previous message but
haven't explored (e.g., if plural subjects were required, would your
inferences apply or not?). I would also guess that as I hinted, the
derivational/lexicalized nature of "co-" explains some of the quirkiness in
particular verbs like "cowrite" (also "corefer"), whereas in some other
languages it may be more regular/productive (possibly also 'inflectional',
although that perhaps gets into unnecessary theoretical/terminological

The ways in which we agree include (at least):
1. Terms like "collectivity" are often used vaguely (though given the
multi-functionality/"coexpression"! of the same morphemes marking a variety
of functions, perhaps that is appropriate).
2. Looking at the semantics narrowly is important, and your contributions
are helpful.
3. My phrasing may have been misleading.

Thanks for your comments-- I agree with your suggestions for understanding
these constructions better. My reply here (and I hope your previous reply)
should not be read as indicating that we mostly disagree about this topic,
because I don't feel that we do.


On Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 12:01 AM, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:

> Daniel and others,
> In a 1996 article (reference below) I point out that the term "collective"
> is used with a bewildering array of meanings.  While the article deals
> exclusively with collectivity as marked on nominal expressions, the same
> point is clearly relevant for the cases of "verbal collectivity" being
> discussed in this thread.  In particular, I would beg to differ with Daniel
> Ross' claim that "In English, the (derivational) prefix 'co-' seems to have
> exactly this function".
> Consider the following four examples:
> (1) Mary and John are cowriting this article
> (2) These two noun-phrases corefer to each other
> (3) These two species coexist in this region
> (4) Mary and John costarred in the new movie
> Each of these four sentences differs logically from the others in ways
> that have to do with collectivity, as evidenced by the following potential
> inferences:
> (1') Mary is writing this article
> (2') This noun-phrase refers
> (3') This species exists in this region
> (4') Mary starred in the new movie
> (1) > (1') is not a valid inference.
> (2) > (2') is a valid inference, but is weird (in ways that I don't have
> time to go into).
> (3) > (3') is a valid inference.
> (4) > (4') is a valid inference.
> The most common understanding of the term "collective" is that it blocks
> inferences from a plural set to its individual members.  Thus, under this
> understanding, "co-" is marking collectivity in (1), perhaps also in (2),
> but certainly not in (3) and (4).  Now it may be the case that all of the
> above usages of "co-" share a common semantic core, but simply applying the
> label "collective" to such a putative common meaning doesn't help much in
> trying to figure out its nature.
> And to return briefly to the "coexpression" thread: given the diversity of
> meanings of the "co-" prefix (which is hardly exhausted by the above four
> examples — and this is even before we take into consideration its opaque
> uses in "collect", "collate", etc.), I don't see any problem with using it
> in the word "coexpression" in the sense intended by Martin and others.
> David
> Gil, David (1996) "Maltese 'Collective Nouns':  A Typological
> Perspective", *Rivista di Linguistica *8:53-87*.*
> On 24/07/2018 23:59, Daniel Ross wrote:
> In English, the (derivational) prefix "co-" seems to have exactly this
> function, as I pointed out in the previous discussion on this list
> regarding why I found the proposed term "coexpress(ion)" to be odd because
> it refers to alternatives rather than collective action. I'm not sure where
> this has been written about (but probably someone has, maybe for Latin?),
> and it is derivational, perhaps not fully productive, but it does seem to
> be able to form new verbs, so it seems to fit here.
> (It is interesting to note that at least in more established verbs like
> "cowrite", they do not strictly require a plural subject-- "I cowrote an
> article", as long as the context allows for a reasonable interpretation. If
> you're looking at the typology cross-linguistically that might be an
> interesting point of variation to consider.)
> Daniel
> On Tue, Jul 24, 2018 at 8:11 AM, "Ekkehard König" <
> koenig at zedat.fu-berlin.de> wrote:
>> Hi Randy,
>> rich information on the reciprocal - sociative/collective polysemy can be
>> found in all of the Nedjalkov volumes. A condensed overview is given in
>> Chapter 5 of the first volume. (I did a review of the 5 volumes for
>> Language, 2011).
>> Best wishes,
>> Ekkehard
>> > Randy,
>> > There is a similar category in Wandala (Frajzyngier 2012),
>> > All best,
>> > Zygmunt
>> >
>> > From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of
>> > "Randy J. LaPolla" <randy.lapolla at gmail.com>
>> > Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at 1:33 AM
>> > Cc: weifeng liu <175204935 at qq.com>
>> > Subject: [Lingtyp] collective action marking
>> >
>> > Hi All,
>> > A student in China (Liu Weifeng) working on Kyrgyz asked me for
>> references
>> > about collective marking on the verb. This marking in Kyrgyz (-ish-) is
>> > distinct from plural marking, and used together with plural marking, and
>> > implies the action was done by two or more people together rather than
>> > individually.
>> >
>> > I am aware of the following article, though do not have access to it,
>> and
>> > don’t even know know for sure whether it documents this phenomenon:
>> >
>> > Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. 2007. Reciprocals, assistives and plural in
>> > Kirghiz. In Nedjalkov, Vladimir (with the assistance of Emma Geniusiene
>> > and Zlatka Guentcheva) (eds.), Typology of reciprocal constructions,
>> > 1231-1280. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
>> >
>> > I don't know of any other works on this type of category in any
>> language.
>> > Has this been looked into in any languages?
>> >
>> > Thanks!
>> >
>> > Randy
>> > -----
>> > Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)
>> > Professor of Linguistics and Chinese, School of Humanities
>> > Nanyang Technological University
>> > HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive | Singapore 637332
>> > http://randylapolla.net/<http://secure-web.cisco.com/1r49xGH
>> jDHpvduhLxc8xcFdeDWaQRDmx6JT631_HJ88j0WzNbUSSBJKa_anFZBkB1cS
>> FVPmw9ikThvWoEF7RIEZwRrF41ZmOg8Q1r5KEyCUxZC5wuC28aG_
>> DlUMVjf4vKly6Ga5U846AFU_8ciIgNuIsCxBZP90e2AXadGa_EaJF3qeI0Ps
>> XURTP7UIoNYFZSnz_SDDdFEuzk165x1qlfrXFPZWqpG2ZvIir6ai7vfmDn9h
>> v5v1Fqfoz2YKBK325exE--qzqARuhIetwE_l8o-x0t3UnQiilems
>> qt4EqZfAOQo_BRlSyjjeIKhlCgtch0P5B9ppouqgFfeYSKqDwzhmlzNUAom_
>> lTGiK5TO2YlOC2K2nbRFX-7nK89BmKSZm_brUS2-KjnVVKJrnPK9sM1XE5PP
>> bNO8ggB4SPl9zw7DdqEaqZ_qgihNd8wV-Nb4yfRy2XIMtSrFC_G9CbVWKe-Q/http%3A%2F%
>> 2Frandylapolla.net%2F>
>> > Most recent book:
>> > https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edi
>> tion/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > Lingtyp mailing list
>> > Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>> >
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing listLingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.orghttp://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
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20180725/5df57c70/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list