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

Aidan Aannestad a.aannestad at gmail.com
Tue May 11 15:29:38 UTC 2021

This looks identical to what in Japanese and a few other places nearby 
are called 'sentence-final particles', though that's far from a 
satisfying name for that typological category. These markers serve 
primarily to inform listeners of the purpose behind speaking the sentence:

/aru/ 'it's there' (no SFP, sort of neutral)
/aru yo/ 'it's there' (which I don't think you knew but I think you 
should know)
/aru ne/ 'it's there, isn't it' (I think I'm right but I'd like to 
confirm / I'm fairly sure you agree with me)
/aru wa!/ 'what the heck, it's there!' / 'of course it's there, are you 
/aru kedo/ 'it's there' (but I'm not sure if that's relevant information 
to you or not)
/aru tteba//!/ 'I'm telling you, it's there' (why won't you listen to me)
/aru yo ne/ 'oh, of course it's there' (I should have realised it earlier)

(note that /yo/ in Japanese also doubles as a high-register vocative - 
/shounen yo/ 'O youth')

This is a category of morphemes that to my knowledge lacks any 
crosslinguistic typological study; though I think it very well needs 
one, as it seems to be primarily thought of as an East Asian feature but 
certainly occurs elsewhere. Yale, a Papuan isolate I've gotten to do 
some work with, has something apparently directly analogous to 
Japanese's sentence-final particles:

/bo  klɛli  mogo   kile    nɛ-l-e *o
*/1sg pig  carcass leave 1sg-AUX-1sg *SFP*
'I left a pig carcass (and you should be aware of this)'

Yale has several of these, including /o/, which seems to mark the 
sentence as informing the listener of information; /ne/, which is how 
Yale handles interrogative marking; /nawa/, which indicates that the 
speaker is wondering whether the contents of the sentence might be true 
(or what the answer to the sentence's content question is); and /fɛ/, 
which directs the listener's attention towards a state described by the 
sentence (/hi wɛsibi wa kibo mɛlɛ fɛ /'look, the food's gone bad').

I wouldn't be surprised if Heyo also has a larger category of these 
things that includes more than just the /o/ you've noticed.

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