[Lingtyp] languages lacking a verb for 'give'

Hilary Chappell hmchappell at gmail.com
Fri Jan 28 18:28:40 UTC 2022

Hi, Matthew!

Waxiang (unclassified Sinitic, Hunan) is another case of a language without
a verb ‘to give’, using a construction with get to formulate this. e.g.

zɤ33     *kai55    *u25       tɤ33      tɕhia25  i55.

3sg      dat     1sg      get       clf      clothes

‘He gave me a shirt.’ □他跟我得件衣。

(lit. He to-me get a shirt.)

I wouldn't consider this construction as containing two clauses though. It
looks more like the Oceanic examples in some of the other responses to your
question.  Note that the dative/benefactive use of *kai*55 has evolved from
a comitative preposition which itself derives from a verb meaning 'to
follow'. Tom Güldeman (2013) has also written about the get/give
alternation in Tuu languages.

A detailed study by Zhang Min (2011) shows that there is in fact a whole
swathe of Sinitic languages in central and southern China that do not
possess a verb of giving. Typically, they use either get/take, like
Waxiang, or directional verbs including pass/cross over, as in many Yue
dialects, including 19th century Cantonese, the latter described in Chin

Chin, Andy C. 2010. Two types of indirect object markers in Chinese: Their
typological significance and development. *Journal of Chinese Linguistics*

Güldemann, Tom. 2013. Using minority languages to inform the historical
analysis of major written languages. A Tuu perspective on the ‘give’⁓
object marker polysemy in Sinitic. *Journal of Asian and African Studies*

Zhang Min张敏. 2011. Hànyǔ fāngyán shuāng jí wù jiégòu nánběi chāyì de
chéngyīn: Lèixíng xué yánjiū yǐnfā de xīn wèntí 汉语方言双及物结构南北差异的成因:
类型学研究引发的新问题(Revisiting the alignment typology of ditransitive constructions
in Chinese dialects.) *Bulletin of Chinese linguistics*  4.2 : 87-270.

Hilary Chappell
Chair Professor in the Typology of East Asian languages / Directrice
d'études en typologie linguistique de l'Asie orientale
Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)
Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'Asie orientale (CRLAO)

On Thu, 27 Jan 2022 at 04:43, Matthew Dryer <dryer at buffalo.edu> wrote:

> 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
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
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