[Lingtyp] additive markers and indicative markers

Randy J. LaPolla randy.lapolla at gmail.com
Thu Mar 18 03:30:34 UTC 2021

Hi Chenlei,
My own view does not assume any necessary (or unnecessary) marking, and any marking that is used is used to constrain the addressee’s abductive inference of the communicator's intention in doing the particular communicative act (which includes the entire communicative act, including gesture). Languages then differ in terms of what aspects they constrain, whether they do so obligatorily or optionally, the extent to which they constrain it, and the particular forms they use to constrain the interpretation. So in the case of a speaker using the bèi 被 construction (and it should be understood as a construction, as conventionalisation/grammaticalisation is of constructions, not individual morphemes), it is because the speaker puts extra effort into constraining the hearer’s abductive inference to try to get the hearer to create the meaning intended by the speaker (meaning is created, not decoded). This is how conventionalisation/grammaticalization happens: if we constrain the interpretation over and over in a particular way, it can become conventionalised and possibly even obligatory. In the process it can spread to different uses/contexts that are less prototypical. Your example is not a prototypical use of the bèi 被 construction, but could be used if there was a special context. This is why it is important to use natural examples and give the larger context.

Btw, I don’t see a difference between what some people talk about as conceptual vs. procedural meaning or conceptual vs. contextualisation cues (Gumperz); all linguistic forms are there to help in the inferential process, i.e. all are contextualisation cues. But linguistic forms are not the totality of what goes into the inference, i.e. unlike much of linguistic theory, particularly in the 20th century, it isn’t assumed that all the meaning intended is expressed in the linguistic forms. And the idea that things in language should not be redundant I think is also problematic and due to the goal of building a tight model rather than the goal of understanding how languages work.

Here is a short outline of these ideas:
LaPolla, Randy J. 2015. On the logical necessity of a cultural connection for all aspects of linguistic structure. In Rik De Busser & Randy J. LaPolla (eds.), Language Structure and Environment: Social, Cultural, and Natural Factors, 33-44. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

All the best,
Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)
Professor of Linguistics, with courtesy appointment in Chinese, School of Humanities 
Nanyang Technological University
HSS-03-45, 48 Nanyang Avenue | Singapore 639818
http://randylapolla.info/ <http://randylapolla.info/>
(personal.ntu.edu.sg/randylapolla <http://personal.ntu.edu.sg/randylapolla>)
Most recent books:
The Sino-Tibetan Languages, 2nd Edition (2017)
https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324 <https://www.routledge.com/The-Sino-Tibetan-Languages-2nd-Edition/LaPolla-Thurgood/p/book/9781138783324>
Sino-Tibetan Linguistics (2018)
https://www.routledge.com/Sino-Tibetan-Linguistics/LaPolla/p/book/9780415577397 <https://www.routledge.com/Sino-Tibetan-Linguistics/LaPolla/p/book/9780415577397>

> On 17 Mar 2021, at 11:45 PM, 周晨磊 <zhouchenlei at 126.com> wrote:
> Dear all,
> As you know, a grammatical marker is considered to mark some syntactic/ semantic information, e.g., an aspect marker marks the aspectual information and a case marker is used to mark the relation between the marked noun and the verb or another noun. This understanding of marker is well accepted. But thinking further, we see that there may be two different types of markers, which we would like to term the "additive marker" and "indicative marker".
> Additive markers are consistent with our general understanding of "markers". That is, the marker adds some information that is lack in the original context. For example, the -ed in English adds the past tense information to the verb. Indicative markers, to the best of my knowledge, however, are not fully recognized in the literature. An indicative marker is the marker that indicates the information that already exists in the original context.  For example, the Chinese passive marker bei in shui bei wo he le water PASS I drink pfv 'The water was drank by me' could be treated as an indicative marker in this specific context because the passive relation between "water" and "drink" already exists even without the aid of bei.  In this situation, bei is used to indicate the existed passive relation. 
> Our preliminary study shows that there is no clear boundary between additive markers  and indicative markers, and the two can be transformed in certain contexts. For example, English plural marker -s can be either additive or indicative. In "the teachers came in" (vs. "the teacher came in" ), -s is additive; but in "six teachers", since the plural meaning has already existed in the numeral "six", -s is indicative.
> I was wondering if you think it makes sense to distinguish these two types of markers in typological study and if you are aware of any research that has explored this issue. 
> Thank you very much in advance.
> Best wishes,
> --
> Zhou, Chenlei
> Dept. of Syntax & Semantics,
> Institute of Linguistics, 
> Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
> #5 Jianguomennei Street, Beijing, 100732, P.R.China 
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210318/7a1e9e2a/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list