LINGUIST List 21.2907|
Wed Jul 14 2010
Calls: Morphology, Pragmatics, Semantics/United Kingdom
Editor for this issue: Di Wdzenczny
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Morphopragmatics of Diminutives in African Languages
Message 1: Morphopragmatics of Diminutives in African Languages
From: Jef Verschueren <jef.verschuerenua.ac.be>
Subject: Morphopragmatics of Diminutives in African Languages
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Full Title: Morphopragmatics of Diminutives in African Languages
Date: 03-Jul-2011 - 08-Jul-2011
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom
Contact Person: Nana Aba Amfo
Meeting Email: morphopragmaticsgmail.com
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Pragmatics; Semantics
Call Deadline: 04-Sep-2010
Diminutives have been studied quite extensively. They are known to have
varied range of senses, including small size, affection, approximation,
intensification, limitation, female gender, etc. It has even been suggested
that diminutives may communicate contradictory meanings such as
appreciation and depreciation, intensification and attenuation, etc (Jurafsky
1996). While some researchers insist that diminutives primarily denote
smallness and meaning components like affection or evaluation are
secondary, others claim that the meanings communicated by diminutives are
primarily affective and evaluative. An attempt to provide a satisfactory
account of the different and sometimes even contradictory meanings of
diminutive forms have led some researchers to consider pragmatic
alternatives to the analyses of the different meaning components
communicated by a single diminutive form, arguing that the relevant
specific reading of a diminutive form can be appropriately determined only
within a given context. Recent diminutive research has recognized the need
to combine formal and functional approaches in accounting for the functions
of diminutives since an adequate understanding of language use is
achieved when the interaction between different domains of grammar is
studied (Schneider 2003, Dressler and Merlini Barbaresi 1994).
In spite of the rich history of diminutive research, not much has been done
on the form and communicative import of diminutives in African languages.
The minimal diminutive research on African languages has mostly
concentrated on Bantu languages, particularly Swahili (Contini-Morava
1995). The panel will thus seek to increase our knowledge of the nature
and use of diminutives in African languages and, in so doing, help to
provide a fuller picture of the nature of diminutives in the world's languages
as well as test the robustness of existing theoretical accounts of the
meaning of the diminutive and provide alternatives where these are found to
The panel aims to provoke discussion on the forms and communicative
significance of the diminutive in a number of African languages, particularly,
yet not restricted to languages of the Volta basin. Proceeding on the
assumption that the diminutive is a universal category, the panel will on the
one hand, seek to explore the forms and origins of the diminutive in
respective languages and on the other hand, account for the range of
meanings that are often associated with a single diminutive form. Another
point of interest is the productiveness (or otherwise) of the diminutive forms
and how it reflects on the different meanings communicated by the same
Call For Papers
We invite contributions focussed on the form(s), meaning(s) and pragmatic
function(s) of diminutive markers in African languages. Contributions may
aim at addressing the following questions, indicating clearly the relevance of
the work for pragmatics
- What is/are the form(s) of the diminutive in the respective language?
- How are the various forms of the diminutive formally related?
- What is/are the meaning(s) of the diminutive?
- How are the various meanings of the diminutive related?
- What is/are the pragmatic function(s) of the diminutive form(s)?
- Where a language has no diminutive morpheme, how is/are diminution
and/or related meaning components expressed?
Abstracts (not exceeding 500 words) should be sent as an email attachment
Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
Clement Kwamina Insaidoo Appah
Please note that:
- if accepted, abstracts will have to be submitted via IPrA conference site
before 29 October 2010, following the instructions available at
- submitting the abstracts in accordance with the general guidelines is the
individual responsibility of contributor(s)
- IPrA membership is required for the submission of abstract and for
participation in the conference
- it is not acceptable to have more than one contribution with the same
person as first or single author.
Contini-Morava, Ellen 1995. Noun classification in Swahili.
Dressler, W. U and L. Merlini Barbaresi 1994. Morphopragmatics:
diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German and other languages. Berlin:
Mouton de Gruyter.
Jurafsky, Daniel. (1996) Universal Tendencies in the Semantics of the
Diminutive. Language 72: 3, pp. 533-578.
Schneider, K. P. 2003. Diminutives in English. Tubingen: Max Niemeyer
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