[Lingtyp] Fwd: Uncertainty over the use of the term "vocative" in this instance

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at stanford.edu
Mon May 10 23:06:25 UTC 2021

meant to go to the list, not just to Thomas Diaz:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu<mailto:zwicky at stanford.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Uncertainty over the use of the term "vocative" in this instance
Date: May 10, 2021 at 1:30:25 PM PDT
To: Thomas Diaz <tsdiaz at buffalo.edu<mailto:tsdiaz at buffalo.edu>>

On May 10, 2021, at 11:11 AM, Thomas Diaz <tsdiaz at buffalo.edu<mailto:tsdiaz at buffalo.edu>> wrote:

Hello all,

I am writing a grammatical description of a language called Heyo, a Torricelli language spoken in northwestern Papua New Guinea, for my dissertation. I have come across a clitic =o that I am not sure what to call. I am currently calling/glossing it as a vocative, as it can serve a vocative function as in the two following examples.

'hey, boy!'

'hey, Tawaks!'

Not just a vocative function, but one of the two types of vocative function: it's a call, rather than an address. These are the terms from my article "Hey, Whatsyourname!" in CLS 10 (1974), available on-line in

(The distinction is made by Schegloff 1968, under the names "summons" vs. "term of address".)

>From my 1974 paper: Calls are designed to catch the addressee's attention, addresses to maintain or emphasze the contact between speaker and addressee.`

But this doesn't speak to your larger problem, namely how to classify, characterize the meaning/function of, and name the clitic =o! You seem to be assuming that it is (basically, in some sense of "basically") an adnominal clitic with call function, but can be used attached to verbs (or, perhaps, attached sentence-finally, or clause-finally) with some related function. But maybe it should be treated as a sentence-final clitic with an attention-getting function ('listen to this!'). Or other imaginable possibilites (even that there are two homophonous clitics here, related only historically). All that's for you to work out.


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