[Lingtyp] Affectionate or sympathy marking

Maia Ponsonnet maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au
Sun Jan 15 08:08:15 UTC 2023

Hi Christian, and others,

Thank you so much for prompting this thread, and thanks for all the answers  - very relevant to me too!

I ended up archiving the contents (I obviously won't use them without explicit authorization). I've attached what I retrieved in case this is helpful.

Since the thread hinted at the link between interjections and evaluative morphology, and has mentioned Australian languages, I'm attaching two more publications:

Ponsonnet, Maïa. In press. Interjections, in Bowern,C. ed., Oxford Guide to Australian languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(Section 5 on expressive interjections has something on compassion.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2018. Do linguistic properties influence expressive potential? The case of two Australian diminutives (Gunwinyguan family). Anthropological Linguistics 60(2):157-190.

(Which compares the Dalabon diminutive clitic =wurd with the Rembarrnga diminutive suffix / interjection (-)kanja(ng)h. The morphonological status of the items is is focus.)

And you can also look at references to compassionate interjections in Dalabon in Ponsonnet 2014 and and in Kriol in Ponsonnet 2020 here:



Sorry to inundate you with publications, but please do not hesitate to ask specific questions  - this is very close to my own interests.

Cheers and kind regards to you and every one,


Maïa Ponsonnet

Chargée de Recherche HDR @ CNRS Dynamique Du Langage

14, avenue Berthelot, 69007 Lyon, FRANCE  -- +33 4 72 72 65 46

Adjunct @ University of Western Australia

+ + + + +

Co-rédactrice en chef du Journal de la Société des Océanistes


De : Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> de la part de Christian Döhler <christian.doehler at posteo.de>
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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