[Lingtyp] Affectionate or sympathy marking

Françoise Rose francoise.rose at univ-lyon2.fr
Thu Jan 12 13:57:09 UTC 2023

Dear Christian, dear all,
Cross-linguistically, diminutives often take on those meanings (see Ponsonnet 2018).
In the history of Mojeño, a former diminutive is now specialized in the expression of compassion (Rose 2018). Another diminutive has emerged, that is already seen to be used also with emotional functions.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2018. A preliminary typology of emotional connotations in morphological diminutives and augmentatives. Studies in Language 42(1). 17–50.

Rose, Françoise. 2018. The rise and fall of Mojeño diminutives through the centuries. Studies in Language 42(1). 146–181.

De : Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> De la part de Christian Döhler
Envoyé : jeudi 12 janvier 2023 11:10
À : lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Objet : [Lingtyp] Affectionate or sympathy marking

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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