[Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?

Tianqiao Lu lutianqiao at maonan.org
Fri Jun 1 09:57:14 UTC 2018

Hi Ian.

The following sentences in Mandarin Chinese might imply some bipolar polysemy: 
(1) Wǒ chàdiǎner méi diào xiàqu
      1sg almost not-yet fall down
can either mean:
     "I almost fell down" (i.e. I did not fall down)
     "I almost didn't fall down" (i.e. I did fall down)
(2) Wǒ chàdiǎner méi gàosu tā.
      1sg  almost   not-yet tell 3sg.
can either mean:
     "I almost told him/her" (i.e. I haven't told him/her)
     "I almost haven't told him/her" (i.e. I did tell him/her)
Hopefully this might help.

Tianqiao Lu 
School of Linguistic Sciences
Jiangsu Normal University

------------------ Original ------------------
From:  "Giorgio Francesco Arcodia"<giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it>;
Date:  Thu, May 31, 2018 07:06 PM
To:  "mattis.list"<mattis.list at lingpy.org>; 
Cc:  "lingtyp"<lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>; 
Subject:  Re: [Lingtyp] Does bipolar polysemy exist?


I don't know if that counts, but: in Italian, ospite means both 'host' and 'guest'. In a given situation, you can't be both, so, (I guess) in a sense this word can be the negation of itself.

Apologies, semantics is not my forte.



2018-05-31 13:03 GMT+02:00 Mattis List <mattis.list at lingpy.org>:
Wouldn't the frequent cases of pronouns or pronoun-like words in French
 (personne = "person, nobody", pas = "step, not", etc.) come close to
 this notion? And this process has historically also be claimed for other
 negation words, like Ancient Greek "ou", if I am not mistaken.
 On 2018-05-31 12:57, Joo Ian wrote:
 > Dear all,
 > I would like to know if the following universal claim holds:
 > /There exists no lexeme that can mean X and the negation of X. (For
 > example, no lexeme can express “to go” and “to not go”)./
 > I wonder if such “bipolar polysemy” exists in any lexeme, because I
 > cannot think of any, and whether this claim is truly universal.
 > I would appreciate to know if there is any counter-evidence.
 > From Hong Kong,
 > Ian Joo
 > http://ianjoo.academia.edu
 > _______________________________________________
 > Lingtyp mailing list
 > Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
 > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
 Lingtyp mailing list
 Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org

Prof. Dr. Giorgio Francesco Arcodia
馬振國博士 副教授

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione

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E-mail: giorgio.arcodia at unimib.it
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