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LINGUIST List 16.3013

Tue Oct 18 2005

Qs: Duzen/Siezen in German; Taboo-expressives

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Julie Belz, Duzen/Siezen in German
        2.    Petar Kehayov, Taboo-expressives as a Source of NP Adverbs

Message 1: Duzen/Siezen in German
Date: 18-Oct-2005
From: Julie Belz <jab63psu.edu>
Subject: Duzen/Siezen in German

dear colleagues -

I would be so grateful if the native speakers of German among you might have a
few minutes to fill out the following questionnaire:


or if you might pass it on to any interested parties. It is related to my
on-going exploration of the development of L2 pragmatic competence in German.

with all best, julie belz
asst. prof of applied linguistics and german
Penn State University

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
Message 2: Taboo-expressives as a Source of NP Adverbs
Date: 17-Oct-2005
From: Petar Kehayov <petar.kehayovua.ac.be>
Subject: Taboo-expressives as a Source of NP Adverbs

Dear Linguists,

I am struck with a path of grammaticalization whereby expressions like
Who/God/Devil/Hell knows WH- (e.g. 'This is God knows how far from here')
have served as a source for negative degree adverbs. The languages under
scrutiny are Estonian and Latvian, which despite their geographical
adjacency are not genetic cognates.

The process of grammaticalization in Estonian is concurrent with the
omission of the (taboo-)agent. The target construction is exemplified in (1):

(1) Leedu ei ole teab-mis kaugel.
Lithuania NEG be know-WH- far
''Lithuania is not very far''

The affirmative counterpart (2) of this sentence is ungrammatical, and the
adverb can be defined as negative polarity item.

(2) *Leedu on teab-mis kaugel
Lithuania is know-WH- far
''Lithuania is very far''

In Latvian, the process is characterized by reduction of morphophonological
substance and univerbation. The source construction is Dievs zina cik (''God
knows how (much)'') and the target word DIEZCIK is a degree adverb which also
seems to be licensed only in negative contexts, e.g.:

(3) Vinu saites nav bijusas diezcik labas
their relationships NEG be.PRTC god-knows-how good
''Their relationship has not been very good''

Are you aware of any similar cases of grammaticalization among the
languages you know? I do not exclude the possibility that this is common
phenomenon among the languages of the world? But then why the literature on
polarity doesn't seems to have paid attention to this type of expressions
as possible candidates for NPI-status.

With my very best regards,

Petar Kehayov

Linguistic Field(s): Typology

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