[Lingtyp] Affectionate or sympathy marking

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu Jan 12 16:41:52 UTC 2023

Indonesian has a high-frequency word /kasian/ which expresses sympathy, 
empathy and affection.  However, unlike English /poor/ and some of the 
diminutive forms mentioned earlier on this thread, Indonesian /kasian/ 
cannot occur in clearly attributive constructions; instead, it may occur 
predicatively, or, perhaps most commonly, as a free-standing exclamation.

In this latter usage, it bears a resemblance to the South-African 
English /shame/ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nElGCIMf2c).


On 12/01/2023 19:10, Christian Döhler wrote:
> 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,
> Christian
> -- 
> Dr. Christian Döhler
> Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)
> Schützenstraße 18
> 10117 Berlin
> Raum: 445
> Tel.: +49 30 20192 412
> https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9659-5920
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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
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-082113720302
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