[Lingtyp] Clauses without any overt predicative content (and negation)

Bastian Persohn persohn.linguistics at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 11:01:38 UTC 2021

Dear lingtyp members,

Do you know of any good discussion of how clauses without any overt predicative content are interpreted, especially in regards to polarity?

I’m thinking of the following type, where bado 'still' becomes its negative equivalent 'not yet' in the absence of overt predicative content, a pattern
that is attested in many languages around the globe.

(1) Imerudi kutengenezwa {au bado}?
it.has.returned be.fixed or still
ʻHas it (fan) be fixed again or not yet?ʼ
(Ashton 1947: 392)

(2) Kwa sasa maji yametoka mtoni (Malulumo) na kufika Mgera {lakini vijiji vingine bado}.
For now water it.has.come.from at.river M. and arrive M. but villages other still
 ‘As for now, the water has come from the river (Malulumo) and reached Mgera, but not other villages yet.’
(Helsinki Corpus of Swahili 2.0)
Obviously, in (1, 2) the disjunctive context also plays a role, but cf. the Western Dani examples (3, 4).
Again, variations over the same theme appear to be pretty common.

(3) Yi awo
river still
ʻThe river has not yet been swelled.ʼ
(Barclay 2008: 440)

(4) Nin-ogoba awo
our.father still
ʻOur father, no!ʼ (Barclay 2008: 441)

Thanks a lot!


Ashton, Ethel O. 1947. Swahili grammar (including intonation). London: Longmans, Green and Co

Barclay, Peter. 2008. A grammar of Western Dani. Munich: Lincom.
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