[Lingtyp] Colexification between 'mother', 'breast', and 'eat/drink'

Ege Baran Dalmaz ebarandalmaz at gmail.com
Tue Oct 26 11:41:33 UTC 2021

Dear Ian,
I just realized that in Turkish, there are some uncommon variations of the
said words that could link a colexification of some kind. It is just an
(un)educated guess that I have, though.
There is an uncommon way to refer to your mother in Turkish, as ['ma.ma],
it is mostly used by "western-oriented" people that do not use [an.'ne],
the most common way to say mother in Turkish.
In child-directed speech, food and/or breast milk can be referred to as
[ma.'ma], meaning food in general.
Also, breast in Turkish is [me.'me].
If these three could be thought to be colexified, I guess it would be
helpful for you. The mother one ['ma.ma] is not really common, but the
other two for food and breast are quite common in standard Turkish.
Ege Baran Dalmaz
Boğaziçi University
Graduate School of Social Sciences
Department of Linguistics
ebarandalmaz at gmail.com

Jess Tauber <tetrahedralpt at gmail.com>, 26 Eki 2021 Sal, 13:16 tarihinde
şunu yazdı:

> In Yahgan (a critically endangered Native American language from Tierra
> del Fuego, which I've studied for nearly a quarter century), the standard
> word for 'mother' is da:bi (colon marks tenseness of the vowel preceding it
> in the keyboard-friendly orthography I developed), while the set of words
> for 'breast' includes chvmmvsh (v represents schwa), chvmmvsha, chvmmvshka,
> tvmmvsha, while da:pvsh is both 'breast' and 'milk'. So traces of dialect
> mixing or augmentative/diminutive shifting of what were originally
> variations on the same theme back in the day.
> And 'eat' is normally atama, where ama represents 'food' in general (but
> fatty sea mammals used for food in particular). vndvpa is generic for
> 'meat'. In the inclement climate of Tierra del Fuego (cold and wet),
> inhabitants went around nearly naked, keeping fires going at all times to
> warm themselves against. When they cooked they only rarely did so
> completely- usually only enough heat to melt the fat within morsels being
> prepared. They often woke at all hours of the night to have a nosh, and
> when they put on weight by overeating, it would just as quickly melt off
> their bodies.
> Another form likely related to the original set I mentioned above (and
> which I'm now only realizing) is muru:, meaning 'suck'. Because of the
> morphophonetic changes in word building, this shows up in combination as
> mush-.
> The word for 'drink' is vla, and there appears to be a very old
> alternation (likely sound-symbolic) between /l/ and /sh/ in the language,
> based on internal reconstruction I did years ago.
> There is also a form ushkuru: meaning 'swallow, gulp down, eat' which
> appears to be part of this same system
> Jess Tauber
> On Tue, Oct 26, 2021 at 4:29 AM ENRIQUE BERNARDEZ SANCHIS <
> ebernard at filol.ucm.es> wrote:
>> Hi, Ian. In Cha'palaa, a language spoken in NW Ecuador, the root  ču-
>> appears in derivatives meaning "mother / breast / milk / drink". It is just
>> a matter of adding nominal or verbal inflection.
>> Enrique
>> El mar, 26 oct 2021 a las 10:00, Daniel Ross (<djross3 at gmail.com>)
>> escribió:
>>> Dear Ian,
>>> The typical cross-linguistic association is with the form "mama" for
>>> mother, based on the phonetic articulation closest to nursing, which
>>> appears in too many languages to be coincidental or due to contact.
>>> (Variants of this follow, such as baba/papa for 'father' and some other
>>> CV-doublets. There's a whole series of them in Swahili, for instance: mama
>>> mother, baba father, dada sister, kaka brother, nyanya grandmother, and
>>> some others that aren't exact copies like babu father or mtoto child.)
>>> My guess would be that this association with "mother" could block other
>>> lexical developments for the word. This might be encouraged by mothers who
>>> want their child's first word to be referring to them, or at least that's
>>> the impression I have from American culture.
>>> On the other hand, there may be further uses or derivations of this form
>>> in some languages, such as Latin *mamma* 'breast' and other derivations
>>> like *mammalia* (class of animals producing milk, i.e. with breasts).
>>> A related proposal of an ancient cognate in the (now disputed) Amerind
>>> family is maliq'a ('swallow, throat'), from Greenberg and Ruhlen's 1992
>>> paper "Linguistic Origins of Native Americans":
>>> https://www.jstor.org/stable/24939295 and Ruhlen then expanded this to
>>> claim a possible Proto-World etymology in his 1994 book *On the Origin
>>> of Languages*. While many of us would be hesitant to accept such an
>>> extreme reconstruction, the data provided there from various languages and
>>> families is directly relevant to your question, and in fact could be a
>>> better explanation for recurrent similar etymologies, rather than ancient
>>> relationship or coincidence, as appears to be the case with *mama*.
>>> (These etymologies seem tied together, with the Indo-European variants of
>>> maliq'a meaning "milk", for example.)
>>> Daniel Ross
>>> ALT Webmaster
>>> Lecturer, UC Riverside
>>> On Tue, Oct 26, 2021 at 12:35 AM JOO, Ian [Student] <
>>> ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk> wrote:
>>>> Dear typologists,
>>>> Are you aware of any language that colexifies (uses the same lexeme
>>>> for) the following four concepts: 'mother', 'breast', and 'eat/drink'?
>>>> The logic is that, the mother's breast is usually the first thing that
>>>> a newborn baby "eats", so it would be natural if a language colexified
>>>> these concepts, especially in baby-talk vocabulary.
>>>> I would much appreciate your help.
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>> --
>> Enrique Bernárdez
>> Profesor Honorífico de Lingüística General
>> Departamento de Lingüística, Estudios Árabes, Hebreos y de Asia Oriental
>> Facultad de Filología
>> Universidad Complutense de Madrid
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