[Lingtyp] 'Take' as diachronic source for causative? 'Stand' for ingressive?

Paul J Hopper hopper at cmu.edu
Wed Aug 26 02:49:03 UTC 2020

Many examples of 'take' in English do nothing more than permit transitivization to be distributed over adjacent clauses. "This test will move national standards down into the classroom" can be serialized as "This test will take national standards and move them down into the classroom" (example from the Corpus of Spoken Professional American English). In this construction 'take' could be considered a transitivizer that works to spread a complex transitive idea over more two clauses. Causative and instrumental ideas ("he smashed a priceless vase with the hammer" > "he took the hammer and smashed a priceless vase [with it]") might emerge as special cases of this. I've discussed constructions using 'take' in:
"Emergent Serialization in English: Pragmatics and Typology" in Language Universals and Language Change, edited by Jeff Good, and in:
"Serialization in English with 'to take', with a note on French and German" (Hommage à Claude Hagège, edited by Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest)
both available on Academia.com.

Paul Hopper
From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Daniel Ross <djross3 at gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2020 11:37:07 AM
To: Claudia Wegener
Cc: Linguistic Typology
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] 'Take' as diachronic source for causative? 'Stand' for ingressive?

Hi Claudia,

Yes, I agree with your impressions that these functions are rare. I imagine they're connected to a broad network of related grammaticalization pathways, but those particular developments don't seem very common.

Regarding posture STAND (vs. change-of-position STAND), the much more typical development is as a marker of continuous activity (if fully semantically bleached, progressive/imperfective/durative aspect). (Does Savosavo have distinct verbs for posture vs. change-of-position?) The only related observation that comes to mind is that perhaps it has something to do with taking a behavioral position and holding it. That is, "steadfast" perhaps in a somewhat defiant way. That seems to be the explanation (if I'm interpreting it correctly) for a number of South Asian languages (at least Indo-Aryan and Dravidian, I believe) where SIT has become a marker of defiant or unexpected/undesirable action (in the misleadingly so-called "compound verb" constructions), and I think that may be more of a continuous posture verb than change-of-posture verb, but I'm not certain.

Causative SVCs with TAKE are briefly mentioned in Lovestrand (2018:45), with reference to Yoruba, so that might be helpful.

Since I haven't been looking for the functions you describe specifically, there are of course likely to be more examples out there, but I think it's safe to say they're not common or typical for these sorts of developments for SVCs. Thanks for sharing the interesting data.

By the way, English actually has a sort of causative construction with TAKE: "I took him to eat" , or sometimes with a passive (either BE or GET) as in "I took him to get inspected". I imagine this usage develops naturally out of the transfer sense of TAKE (also common in SVCs), so maybe that's related to what you're describing. It's not a typical pattern I've seen described for TAKE SVCs, but I'd be a little cautious interpreting that because my impression is that a lot of research on SVCs (including but to a lesser degree even in descriptive grammars) is biased by semantic expectations (see the previously linked slides). Certain "typical" semantic types of SVCs are very likely to be reported, while other possible variants may not be mentioned, so it's hard to know if there is or is not any more variation among the possible semantic types than what is reported in a typical paper or grammar.


On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 5:21 AM Claudia Wegener <claudia.wegener at uni-koeln.de<mailto:claudia.wegener at uni-koeln.de>> wrote:

Hi Daniel,

thanks, yes, I am aware of those functions of 'take' SVCs (also discussed in Lee (2019), which I'm sure you will know) and Lefebvre's work. 'Take' to Inceptive was not so much my interest, but thanks for the interesting slides!

The language I'm working on (Savosavo, Non-Austronesian) does use transitive 'take' in SVCs as the general marker for causation. The subject of 'take' is the causer, and object of 'take' is subject of the (necessarily intransitive) verb that follows. It is never used in any intransitive form or in any way altered in morphology or phonetic form. I agree that the development has to have followed a path from what you said below ("The more common pattern seems to me to be 'Take NP (and) V (it)', so not causative in terms of alignment but similar in function. I'm not sure about whether or how often that pattern might shift alignment to 'Make NP V'."), i.e. in symmetrical, sequential serial verb constructions first, and then extended to asymmetrical SVCs, with the shifted alignment pattern. I do find it a bit puzzling that it seems to have happened so rarely in other languages, even though it seems a perfectly intuitive development to me :)

Also in light of the other answers I received so far, I guess it is quite safe to say then that this development is rather rare...

As for my question about 'stand' -> inchoative/inceptive/ingressive, I did mean 'stand' in the sense of 'be standing'; Savosavo does have a separate (though related) word for 'stand/get up', which is not used for this grammatical function.

Thanks again, best wishes,



Lee, Taegyeong. 2019. A cross-linguistic typology of ‘take’ serial verb constructions. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico MA thesis. https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ling_etds/69.

On 20-Aug-20 01:38, Daniel Ross wrote:
Hi Claudia,

TAKE is extremely common in transitive functions in serial verb constructions, with a range of meanings including instrumental, comitative and sometimes just accusative. There's no shortage of literature on the topic (including several more papers by Lefebvre), but for a preliminary large-scale survey, see:

However, TAKE is rarer as an intransitive auxiliary with inceptive (or similar) semantics. One specific regional exception is "TAKE AND V" pseudocoordination as found in dozens of European languages. The meaning is similar to "GO AND V", in the sense of surprise, unexpectedness, defiance, self-initiative, etc. This has been written about by a number of authors, but I am working on a more comprehensive survey in Eurasia, where I've so far identified this usage in about 60 languages:
(Slides in Spanish, but should be easy enough to follow with the maps.)

Aside from pseudocoordination (or rare asyndetic variants) within that geographic area, SVCs (etc.) with "take" are quite rare in that intransitive sense. Something like that is found in Haitian Creole, and there's an auxiliary in Arabic that is similar, but in general this particular semantic configuration seems anomalously common in Europe (suggesting contact effects, but with unclear and possibly many pathways, as discussed in the slides). Another related usage is auto-benefactive "take" (as opposed to "give"), as described by Creissels 2010 for example (cited in the slides).

The meanings I've described above are not causative exactly, but I think somewhat semantically related to that might give you more information to consider. Further grammaticalization into marking a causative seems plausible from TAKE SVCs, for example. The more common pattern seems to me to be "Take NP (and) V (it)", so not causative in terms of alignment but similar in function. I'm not sure about whether or how often that pattern might shift alignment to "Make NP V".

STAND/GET UP is used similarly to the TAKE (AND) construction above, in Arabic and some other languages of the Middle East (presumably also due to contact), sort of blending into the edges of the TAKE AND distribution. For Arabic, search for research on "qam" (and cognates in different varieties), often grammaticalized as an ingressive particle in colloquial varieties.

I'd be happy to discuss this topic more, but that addresses at least the specific questions asked. I'd be interested to hear more about your research on these topics. I can supply additional references if you'd like. (Feel free to write off-list if you prefer.)


On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 4:03 PM Claudia Wegener <claudia.wegener at uni-koeln.de<mailto:claudia.wegener at uni-koeln.de>> wrote:

Dear all,

It was suggested to me that grammaticalization of the verb 'take' to a causative marker is typologically unusual, and indeed, apart from the mention of Twi and Nupe (in Kuteva et al. 2019 and sources cited therein) and Fon (Lefebvre 1991) I have found little to no information on languages where this has happened... Would any of you know any other languages and could point me towards publications I could cite?

And related to this, I have been even less successful at finding languages where the verb for 'to stand' (as posture verb) has been grammaticalized to function as a marker for ingressive - if you know of any, would you be so kind to point me to any publications?

Many thanks in advance,



Lefebvre, Claire. 1991. Take serial verb constructions in Fon. In Claire Lefebvre (ed.), Serial Verbs: Grammatical, Comparative and Cognitive Approaches, 37-78. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Kuteva, Tania, Bernd Heine, Bo Hong, Haiping Long, Heiko Narrog & Seongha Rhee (eds.). 2019. World Lexicon of Grammaticalization, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Claudia Wegener
Abteilung Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Institut für Linguistik
Universität zu Köln
50923 Köln

Lingtyp mailing list
Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>

Claudia Wegener
Abteilung Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Institut für Linguistik
Universität zu Köln
50923 Köln
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20200826/b27e484b/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list