The present study puts in parallel the use of six auxiliary verbs across languages in Northeast and Southeast Asia with some reference to South Asian and West African languages. The results show that the following groups of lexical verbs are employed as auxiliaries with similar semantics in many languages: (1) be/sit/stand/stay > progressive, (2) give > benefactive, (3) put/keep/leave/throw > completive, (4) see/look > attemptive, (5) get/take > capabilitive and (6) become > possibilitive. Despite the variation between head-initial and head-final word order across languages in Asia, these auxiliaries similarly occur after the content verb of a clause in many languages. Our proposal is that the postverbal position of these auxiliaries has its root in the multiverb construction, in which several sequential actions are in a complementary relation, and the omission of optional adjunct(s) around the non-initial verb(s) in a sequence has evoked its semantic bleaching and auxiliation. Putting aside the explanation by inheritance and contact, an unequal genealogical and areal distribution of these constructions point to a more general cognitive, language-internal tendency, independent of the word order typology of each language, which yields similar construction patterns on the language interface.

A parallelism in the postverbal auxiliary verb constructions in languages of Northeast and Southeast Asia

Pui Yiu Szeto
2020

Abstract

The present study puts in parallel the use of six auxiliary verbs across languages in Northeast and Southeast Asia with some reference to South Asian and West African languages. The results show that the following groups of lexical verbs are employed as auxiliaries with similar semantics in many languages: (1) be/sit/stand/stay > progressive, (2) give > benefactive, (3) put/keep/leave/throw > completive, (4) see/look > attemptive, (5) get/take > capabilitive and (6) become > possibilitive. Despite the variation between head-initial and head-final word order across languages in Asia, these auxiliaries similarly occur after the content verb of a clause in many languages. Our proposal is that the postverbal position of these auxiliaries has its root in the multiverb construction, in which several sequential actions are in a complementary relation, and the omission of optional adjunct(s) around the non-initial verb(s) in a sequence has evoked its semantic bleaching and auxiliation. Putting aside the explanation by inheritance and contact, an unequal genealogical and areal distribution of these constructions point to a more general cognitive, language-internal tendency, independent of the word order typology of each language, which yields similar construction patterns on the language interface.
Языки стран Дальнего Востока, Юго–Восточной Азии и Западной Африки: материалы XIV Международной научной конференции [Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Languages of the Far East, Southeast Asia and West Africa (LESEWA-XIV)]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3751230
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