[Lingtyp] Cases of loss of goal markers

bingfu Lu lubingfu at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 12 05:56:14 UTC 2019

 Thanks David and Randy,It happens that I am reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, and just noticed the following passage:
‘Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength;  and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. 

Here, ‘the very instant’ is an adverbial without any case-marking. Cases like this one are everywhere in English.  Many expressions of definite time, including ‘yesterday, today, this year, last year’, can behave this way. In fact, ‘this way’ is also an instance of such a phenomenon. 

Since the basic or default function of these expressions are adverbial, why not let them directly serve as adverbials without case-marking. This is an economic and natural way.
Bingfu Lu
   On Friday, January 11, 2019, 8:59:53 PM PST, Randy J. LaPolla <randy.lapolla at gmail.com> wrote: 
 Thanks, David, that is very much the case for Sinitic varieties generally (e.g. dào (< 'arrive’) in Mandarin and yú (< ‘go’) in Classical Chinese), aside from Cantonese, which you mentioned.
-----Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)Professor of Linguistics, with courtesy appointment in Chinese, School of Humanities Nanyang Technological UniversityHSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive | Singapore 637332http://randylapolla.net/Most recent books:The Sino-Tibetan Languages, 2nd Edition (2017)https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324Sino-Tibetan Linguistics (2018)https://www.routledge.com/Sino-Tibetan-Linguistics/LaPolla/p/book/9780415577397

On 12 Jan 2019, at 11:49 AM, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:

Dear Ponrawee,
I have been conducting, for the last several years, an experimental cross-linguistic study of zero-marking options for various thematic roles, of which goal, referred to in this query, is just one — see references below for some preliminary results.  The findings so far suggest that the zero-marking option is much more widespread cross-linguistically than is commonly acknowledged.
I would, however, question the use of the term "loss" to describe the phenomenon of zero marking.  While this may indeed be appropriate in some cases, in most cases, zero-marking represents a default option, to which additional flagging elements may be added if and where deemed necessary.  Viewing this in terms of "loss" is Eurocentric.  

Supporting this, in many cases, one finds a path of grammaticalization leading from a zero-marked goal construction to one in which the verb "go" becomes reanalized as an allative marker.  For example, in most varieties of Malay/Indonesian, "pergi" ('go') usually takes a zero-marked goal, as in (1); however, in some varieties, its cognate form is reanalized as an allative marker, as in (2) — its allative function being evidenced by its occurrence in constructions such as (3):
(1) Riau Indonesian            Ali pergi pasar             Ali go market
(2) Sabah Malay            Ali pi pasar            Ali go/to market
(3) Sabah Malay            Ali bawa durian pi pasar            Ali bring durian to market
So in Malay/Indonesian, then, it is an allative marker that develops out of a prior zero-marked goal.  (I suspect you might find a similar path of grammaticalization also in Mainland Southeast Asian languages.)

Gil, David (2008) "How Complex Are Isolating Languages?" in M. Miestamo, K. Sinnemäki and F. Karlsson, eds., Language Complexity: Typology, Contact, Change, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 109-131.Gil, David (2015) "The Mekong-Mamberamo Linguistic Area", in N.J. Enfield and B. Comrie eds., Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, The State of the Art, Pacific Linguistics, DeGruyter Mouton, Berlin, 266-355.  
For Gil (2015) see section 2.16 on Optional Thematic-Role Flagging, where the following table is provided showing the availability of "bare oblique" constructions (including but not limited to zero-marked goals) in some languages of the Mekong-Mamberamo area:
Language Availability of Bare Oblique Constructions:Cantonese 42%Vietnamese 67%Lao 54%Muarasiberut Mentawai 75%Sundanese 76%Jakarta Indonesian 68%Nage 79%Roon 59%Meyah 66%

On 12/01/2019 03:52, Ponrawee Prasertsom wrote:

Dear all,
I am looking for languages where goal markers (case affixes, prepositions, etc. corresponding to English to) developed into zero, i.e. are lost. That is, from something like I go to school to I go school. Does anyone know of such cases?
Currently, I am aware of only one such case: goal preposition loss on Asia Minor Greek (Karatsareas and Georgakopoulos 2016), which reconstructs history from variation among dialects (se > se/∅ > ∅).
Ideally, I would like cases with attested historical data, but reconstruction or any other relevant data such as ongoing change etc. is also welcome. 
Karatsareas, Petros and Thanasis Georgakopoulos. 2016. From syntagmatic to paradigmatic spatial zeroes: The loss of the preposition se in inner Asia Minor Greek. STUF - Language Typology and Universals, 69(2), 309-340.

Yours sincerely,
Ponrawee Prasertsom

Graduate StudentDepartment of LinguisticsFaculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn UniversityBangkok, Thailand

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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
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