[Lingtyp] Grammatical marking of insults (?)

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at
Tue Dec 14 19:33:30 UTC 2021

Dear Riccardo, dear all,

Finnish has a parallel to the Portuguese example:

pää 		kiinni, 	se-n-kin 		pässi!
head	closed	it-GEN-FOC.P	oaf
‘Shut up, you idiot!’

Senkin, genitive form of the demonstrative/anaphoric pronoun se plus the focus particle -kin, often translatable with ‘also, too, even’, seems to be lexicalized specifically as an insult marker (beside its regular use, as in hän osti senkin auton ‘s/he bought even that car as well’). It has always seemed obvious to me that se here is originally an euphemistic placeholder for a stronger negative affect word (cf. saatana-n pässi lit. “Satan's oaf”), but I don't know if anyone has really researched this. (For the role of -kin here, I would check Lauri Carlson’s 1993 article "Dialogue games with Finnish clitcs", appeared in SKY Yearbook of the Linguistic Association of Finland 6 (1993), or Aarne Ranta's article in https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-30773-7_14 , but neither of them seems to be publicly accessible and I'm not sure whether they have specifically dealt with senkin.)

Johanna Laakso

> Riccardo Giomi <rgiomi at campus.ul.pt> kirjoitti 14.12.2021 kello 19.49:
> Dear all,
> A student of mine would like to investigate the linguistic coding of insults across languages. She is particularly interested in finding out whether languages can have dedicated (uses of) grammatical forms/constructions for this specific purpose. The best example I could come up with so far is the use of the Portuguese third person reflexive possessive adjective (determiner in Brazilian Portuguese) seu/sua with epithets which are meant as insults. An example would be
> Cala=te, seu burro!
> shut.up.IMP.2.SG <http://shut.up.imp.2.sg/>=2.SG.OBJ 3.SG.REFL.POSS donkey.M.SG <http://donkey.m.sg/>
> 'Shut up, you idiot!'
> (Where, funnily enough, the third person of the adjective/determiner is presumably the polite form!) This is an interesting case, I think, because as far as I can see you never use seu/sua in 'plain' vocatives, nor with terms of endearment, nor, for that matter, with NPs which are not used as invocations. 
> I am wondering whether anyone is aware of a language which has some grammaticalized form or construction that can be used in this specific way. Note that I am not interested in, say, abusive pronouns or honorifics or general expressions of the speaker's disappointment ('frustrative' markers) but only in grammaticalized means of marking the speech act as an insult.
> Many thanks in advance and best wishes to all,
> Riccardo
> -- 
> Riccardo Giomi, Ph.D.
> University of Liège
> Département de langues modernes : linguistique, littérature et traduction
> Research group Linguistique contrastive et typologie des langues
> F.R.S.-FNRS Postdoctoral fellow (CR - FC 43095)
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Univ.Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (EVSL)
Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalgasse 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at univie.ac.athttp://homepage.univie.ac.at/Johanna.Laakso/
Project ELDIA: http://www.eldia-project.org/ 

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