In many languages of the world, emotions and medical conditions are not attributed to an individual, but to a certain body part. For example, instead of saying “I am sad”, you may have to say something along the lines of “my heart is heavy” in many languages. In these cases, the meaning of “being sad” does not reside in a single word. “Heart” alone does not express sadness, and neither does “heavy”. Only the combination of the two can express this concept. The question is then how such languages form expressions that refer to an abstract emotion such as “sadness” . And the answer is that there are different strategies. One strategy is to say something like “the heaviness of the heart”. The Oceanic language Daakaka, however, uses a different strategy. Here, an emotion concept is expressed by a structure such as “the heavy heart”. This paper investigates these differences and their implications. Get it here or ask me for the preprint.
I’m still feeling warm and fuzzy from the wonderful workshop we had last week at the DGfS conference about modal flavours. The idea for this workshop had formed last year during the SIAS summer institute on the investigation of linguistic meaning, together with Ryan Bochnak and Anne Mucha. We were very happy to win Aynat Rubinstein as our invited speaker and get some excellent submissions from various subfields of linguistics. We gave an overview of background motivations and common themes of the talks in our introduction.
There are two indefinite articles in the Oceanic language Daakaka, TUSWA and SWA. Like weak NPIs or unspecific indefinites in many other languages, TUSWA is excluded from positive assertions about the episodic past or present. In this paper, I try to locate them within the cross-linguistic space of indefinites and NPIs and sketch out an approach to account for their differences.
Read the full paper here.
I’m excited to visit Cologne again, this time for a talk on an Oceanic perspective on tense and modality. If you’re in the area, you’ll find the details here.
I was fortunate to be invited as a contributor to a special edition of Lingua (in pre-Glossa times) on possession. My article on “Alienability as control” is now out in print at long last and, alas, behind a paywall. You can contact me to get the manuscript.
I’m excited about the upcoming Sinn und Bedeutung conference in Edinburgh. The program looks very promising and I’ll have an opportunity to discuss some of my latest thoughts on the Daakaka distal and modal semantics more generally. If you can’t come but would like to see my poster, here it is.
It was created with XeLaTeX, graphics with Inkscape, maps with GMT.