[Lingtyp] Affectionate or sympathy marking

Christian Döhler christian.doehler at posteo.de
Thu Jan 12 10:10:22 UTC 2023

Dear colleagues,

I am looking for publications that address the difference between (1) 
and (2). In (2), the English adjective /poor/ is used to signal the 
speaker's sympathy or affection towards the dog.

 1. /The dog is waiting for its owner./
 2. /The poor dog is waiting for its owner./

While English (and my native German) does this by extending the meaning 
of the adjective /poor /(and /arm/ in German), other languages have 
special words with only that meaning. For example, Komnzo /bana /is a 
postposed adjective that only conveys sympathy.

/    ni bananzo namnzr karen./
//ni           bana=nzo        na\m/nzr    kar=en
     1NSG    SYMP=only     1PL:NPST:IPFV/stay    village=LOC
     'Only we poor guys stay behind in the village' (subtext: 'while the 
others are going to the celebration in the neighbouring village')
     (NSG = non-singular, SYMP = sympathy marker, NPST = nonpast)

Yet other languages seem to have special verb morphology for this. Van 
Tongeren describes this for Suki (her PhD grammar will probably be 
available later this year).

Pointers to more examples and publications of this are most welcome. I 
was googling this with keywords like "sympathy", "empathy", "affection", 
but with not much luck. So there might be a whole literature on this 
phenomenon under different terminology. If that's the case, then please 
excuse my ignorance./
Very Best,

Dr. Christian Döhler
Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)
Schützenstraße 18
10117 Berlin
Raum: 445
Tel.: +49 30 20192 412
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