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

tangzhengda tangzhengda at 126.com
Sat Dec 4 04:01:34 UTC 2021

In contemporary Chinese, such 'stand-alone' adverbs are common, such as '简直(了)——jianzhi-le,  Simply', or the adverb with a suspending copular, without the predicative content, e.g. '真是——zhenshi, truely-be!'. They are used with intense emotional and perspective, often for intensification (of properties with polar and scaling potentials).

Daily conversations are context-depent, which is generally believed to be one of the 'characters' of S-E Asian languages. Seen in another angle, the context dependence also means more or less free from morphosyntactic bounding, or even content/predicate burden. After all, when contexts are ostentious and 'sufficient', content of the predicates (states, events, property, etc. the content bearers) are sometimes superfluous. 

Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
No.5 Jianguomennei Dajie, Beijing, China; 100732

At 2021-12-03 19:01:38, "Bastian Persohn" <persohn.linguistics at gmail.com> wrote:

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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