[Lingtyp] Affection / compassion markers, especially in Australian languages

Nicholas Evans nicholas.evans at anu.edu.au
Mon Jan 16 10:31:16 UTC 2023

A bit more on this: some Australian languages (e.g. Ngalakgan aka Ngalakan) have a grammaticalised verbal affix expressing sympathy for an argument coded as (indirect) object. There are also various other devices, including special 'sorry-for-the-swearing' interjections, specific to the kinship relationship between speaker and swearing-victim.

I attach three relevant articles – see pp. 77-78 of the 'social cognition in Dalabon', and the 'sorry for the swearing' sections of the 1992 article

As I think Maïa mentioned, Kriol (the English-lexifier creole spoken in much of northern Australia) has come up with its own marker along these lines, bobala (<poor feller), with an interesting semantic range which though it typically shows pity/compassion can also sometimes show empathy in situations where pity is not the dominant emotion

Best Nick

Director, CoEDL (ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language)

Coombs Building, Fellows Road
CHL, CAP, Australian National University

nicholas.evans at anu.edu.au

I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as custodians of the land on which I work, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present. Their custodianship has never been ceded.

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