[Lingtyp] Items that make frequency/rate/tempo modifiers from nouns

Wiemer, Bjoern wiemerb at uni-mainz.de
Thu May 26 12:16:10 UTC 2022

Dear All,
I want to second Johanna’s and David’s point as for the semantics of these constructions (as far as I have understood the point): it’s not about an increment, but just distributive.
               I also want to add some data. In Polish we have a very salient pattern
                              co (‘what’) + noun denoting a time interval (in the nominative),
e.g. co chwila, co minuta, co godzin, co dzień / tydzień / miesiąc / rok
        ‚every moment, every minute, every hour, every day / week / month / year‘
also with numerals, e.g.  co dwie minuty, co trzy sekundy, co pięć tygodni ...
      ‚every two minutes, every three seconds, every five weeks …‘
less usually with indefinite numerals, e.g. co kilka chwil / dni … ‘every couple of moments / days’,
but we can find it also with nouns denoting a member from a cycle, at least if these are days of the week, e.g. co niedziela. I’m not a native speaker, but for months this seems to work worse (e.g., ?co lipiec ‘every (year in) July’).
We can also find this pattern with expressions lik krok ‘step’ or rusz (< ruszać się ‘move’ or ruch ‘movement’), which yields co krok, co rusz ‘at every moment’ (i.e. very quickly one after the other);  rusz is not used anywhere else (although it looks like a noun after back formation).
               Only with some of the aforementioned nouns do we find compounds yielding adverbs, e.g. codziennie ‘daily’, corocznie ‚yearly‘. This is much less productive (if at all). It can be compared to the German (more productive) pattern in stündlich (< Stunde), täglich (< Tag), monatlich (< Monat), etc. (seems to work only “above” the interval of minutes, since minütlich or sekündlich sounds weird).
               The Polish pattern is remarkable since the nouns are used in the nominative case (distinguished from the accusative in feminine nouns, as in niedziel-a ‘Sunday’), while normally one would expect to appear nouns in time adverbials to be expressed in the accusative (or a case required by a numeral); this is what we see, e.g., in Russian. The Polish pattern (with the noun in the nominative) is encountered also in Lithuanian, but I suspect that it is less widespread (i.e. lexically more restricted). Compare kas savaitė ‘every week‘, but ?kas diena, ?kas mėnuo, ?kas metai ‘every day, month, year‘. However kas ‘what/who‘ occurs as first member of adverbial compounds (as in Polish above), but, again, only with some nouns (deprived of their case-number endings) e.g. kasdien ‘daily‘, kasmet ‘yearly‘. Looks like a micro-areal phenomenon, actually.
               Please not that these remarks are casual, and I am unaware of how particular grammars or other linguistic descriptions call these phenomena (if they give it a particular name at all).

Apart from these cases, formations with reduplication, like Germ. Schritt für Schritt, Russ. šag za šagom, Pol. krok za krokiem ‘step by step‘, seem to be widespread (e.g., Germ. Tropfen für Tropfen, Russ. kaplja za kaplej lit. ‘drop by drop‘). However, as noted, these usually are not related to incrementality (although they can, e.g. Germ. Schritt für Schritt kam er seinem Ziel näher (bis er es schließlich erreichte) ‘Step by step he was approaching his goal (until he finally reached it)‘).
What about idioms like Germ. auf Schritt und Tritt lit. ‘on step and kick‘, i.e. ‘permanently, all the time‘, often with a negative touch of obsessive behavior, or just to mark attentiveness or stubbornness)? Do these belong to the class of expressions you are looking for?


From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> On Behalf Of David Gil
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2022 10:44 PM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Items that make frequency/rate/tempo modifiers from nouns

Dear all,

I would tend to agree with Johanna that most or all of the cases of reduplicated nouns cited by Liz involve distributivity.  Cross-linguistically, reduplication is the most widespread strategy for marking the distributive-share in a relationship of distributivity.  The most common case is that in which reduplication marking the distributive-share occurs on numerals (see https://wals.info/chapter/54); however, in some languages, the construction generalizes from numerals to other word classes, including verbs, adjectives, and — as in the examples cited by Liz — also nouns.

For example, in the Hebrew

(1)       hem arzu mizvada-mizvada
            3PLM pack.PST.3PL DISTR~suitcase
            'They packed one suitcase at a time'

the activity of packing is conceived as mereologically plural, denoting a set of packing sub-activities, each of which is associated with a single suitcase.  Thus, the packing is the distributive key, and the suitcase its distributive share.

For distributivity to obtain, there must be a plural distributive key; otherwise it is blocked.  (This is why you can't say *Mary ate three apples each.)  In many cases, as in (1) above, the plural distributive key is verbal, giving rise to pluractionality.  But the semantics of distributivity is more complex, involving a binary relationship between two items, the distributive key, which may or may not be a pluractional verb, and the distributive share — which is often marked by reduplication.


On 23/05/2022 21:48, Johanna Laakso wrote:
Dear Liz, dear all,

the Hungarian suffix -nként is known by the name "distributive", and so is the Estonian derivational suffix -ti (and its Finnish cognate -ttain/-ttäin). These adverb suffixes in Uralic are sometimes borderline cases between case inflection and derivation, and Jussi Ylikoski has discussed this Estonian "dwarf case" in a few articles, see e.g. http://jultika.oulu.fi/files/nbnfi-fe202002125279.pdf .

Perhaps it's just because I have been socialized with a different terminology, but I don't see these suffixes as primarily expressing "pluractionality" or "increment" or "increase". In my view, the point is "division" rather than "addition". The typical context for these adverbs is not "something increases for every X" but rather "there is one Y for each X", "Y is divided between all the X's".

Univ.Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (EVSL)
Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalgasse 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at<mailto:johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at> • http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Johanna.Laakso/
Project ELDIA: http://www.eldia-project.org/

Elizabeth Coppock <eecoppock at gmail.com<mailto:eecoppock at gmail.com>> kirjoitti 23.05.2022 kello 19.58:

Dear all,

I am working on compiling a list of lexical items (words, affixes, or constructions) that take a noun and produce an adverb that expresses a frequency, rate, or tempo. Examples include:

- English -ly as in "daily", "monthly" (which seems to be limited to a small set of time expressions in the relevant usage; *He gave a playly breakdown of the game.)
- The English "X-by-X" construction, as in "day by day", "brick by brick" (instances of which have been described as "pluractional adverbials")
- Hungarian -nként as in "naponként" 'daily', "hektaronként" 'by hectare"
- Reduplicated nouns in Hebrew as in "yom yom" 'day [by] day', or "mizvada mizvada 'suitcase [by] suitcase' (Gil 1995)

What I'm looking for could be described as "items that create pluractional adverbials when combined with a noun", where the noun specifies some increment at which the event type in question takes place. Googling "pluractional adverbials" does not produce a lot of results outside of English, so I wonder if there is a better term to search by.

(Pluractionality markers that go on verbs and reduplicated numerals would not fit the description, but a lot of reduplicated nouns probably would.)

Any and all leads would be most appreciated. Thank you very much in advance.


Liz Coppock
Department of Linguistics
Boston University
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David Gil

Senior Scientist (Associate)

Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

Email: gil at shh.mpg.de<mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>

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