[Lingtyp] “at last” and “only now”

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Wed Feb 24 11:02:46 UTC 2021

Dear all,

Sergey's query, and especially Alex's recent response on Vanuatu 
languages, have given me new insights into the Indonesian word /dulu/, 
which I now realize also belongs to the same general category of 
"phrasal/focal particles".  While the "literal meaning of /dulu/ is 
something like "first", it is used in a  wider range of contexts than, 
say, English /first. / The first example shows /dulu/ in a narrative 
past context:

(1) Dia makan dulu baru pulang
     3 eat DULU new go.home
     'He/she/they ate and then went home'

The next example shows /dulu/ in its very common use as a polite 
imperative or hortative:

(2) Makan dulu
     eat DULU
     'Please eat' / 'Let's eat'

In both cases, /dulu/ combines a temporal/aspectual with a focus 
meaning. However, whereas Alex's Vanuatu examples involved restrictive 
focus (X but not Y), Indonesian /dulu/ involves additive focus (X and 
also/then Y).  Thus, in both examples, /dulu/ bears the implication that 
after eating, some other, unspecified activity will occur.  While in (1) 
the further activity is overtly expressed, in (2) it is merely implied, 
which has the effect of softening the imperative/hortative meaning and 
thereby rendering it more polite.


On 23/02/2021 20:20, Sergey Loesov wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> Are you aware of cross-language or /einzelsprachlich/studies of the 
> semantics/pragmatics of particles like “*at last*” “*only now*”, and 
> similar. I.e., ‘particles’ that combine phasal and focus semantics.
> Best wishes,
> Sergey
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

David Gil
Senior Scientist (Associate)
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
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091

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