[Lingtyp] languages lacking a verb for 'give'

Alex Francois alex.francois.cnrs at gmail.com
Thu Jan 27 12:35:13 UTC 2022

dear all,

Mwotlap (Oceanic, Vanuatu) does not have a verb 'give'.

That meaning is instead construed by using a transitive verb *lep* 'take,
get' [see entry *lep*
<https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/l.htm#%E2%93%94lep> in the online
dictionary of Mwotlap]
combined with a deictic space directional – either *me* 'hither' or *van
(+ a dative):

1)  Nēk  so  *lep  *nē-sēm  *me  * hiy  kemem.
      2sg     IRR    take    Art-money    hither   DAT   1ex:pl
     'You should give the money to us.'

2)  Nēk  so  *lep  *nē-sēm  *van *  hiy  kōyō.
      2sg     IRR    take    Art-money    thither   DAT   3:dual
     'You should give the money to them.'

The directional alone (without the dative phrase) is sometimes enough to
evoke the recipient:
3)  Lep  *me *!
       take    hither
     'Give it this way (to me/to us)!'

4)  Lep   van!
       take    thither
     'Give it that way! (to him/her/them).'

In the absence of a deictic directional, *lep* means 'take s.th.' or

5)  Nēk  so   *lep  *nē-sēm  tō   van  wēl  nē-mrēit   aē.
      2sg      IRR    take    Art-money    then   go      buy
Art-bread        with.it
     'You should *take* the money and go buy some bread.'

6)  Wō   nēk  may  *lep  *nē-sēm  a   no mē-vētleg  tō    van ?
      Interr  2sg     CPLT     take    Art-money    REL  1sg  Pret1-send
    Pret2   thither
     'Did you *receive* the money I sent you?'

This polysemy of *lep* is somewhat reminiscent of Eng. *get*, whose vast
polysemy includes "receive"  (*did you get my letter?*)  but also "take" (*I'll
get a knife to open the box*) and even "give" when used with a recipient (*what
shall I get you for Christmas?*).


Alex François
LaTTiCe <http://www.lattice.cnrs.fr/en/alexandre-francois/> — CNRS–
–Sorbonne nouvelle
Australian National University
Personal homepage <http://alex.francois.online.fr/>

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Matthew Dryer <dryer at buffalo.edu>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2022 at 04:43
Subject: [Lingtyp] languages lacking a verb for 'give'
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>

I am sending this query on behalf of a colleague.

He wants to know whether anyone knows of a language that lacks a "give"
type verb and would express something like "I gave him the book" instead as
something like "I presented the book (to him) and he took it". That is, is
there a language that can only express a give-type concept with two more
analytic clauses?

Matthew Dryer
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20220127/4de43b78/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list