Chapter published in:Give Constructions across Languages
Edited by Myriam Bouveret
[Constructional Approaches to Language 29] 2021
► pp. 121–144
Transfer and applicative constructions in Gunwinyguan languages
This article describes the syntax and semantics of benefactive and comitative constructions in Dalabon, a Gunwinyguan language of Australia (non-Pama-Nyungan). After having described the respective subcategorisation operations and meanings of each of these constructions, I show that the criterion for using benefactive constructions is the animacy of the benefactive participant, whereas the criterion for using comitative constructions is the semantic role of the argument: the Dalabon comitative marker selects arguments with typical “comitative” meaning (accompaniment and instrument). In addition, I show that the comitative construction has developed a cross-linguistically unusual semantic extension towards the notion of transfer. When combined with verbs of attainment (‘get’, ‘pull’, etc.), Dalabon comitative constructions express malefactive transfer (or removal, i.e. the opposite of giving). Comparing Dalabon with neighbouring languages of the same family reveals that this extension is not limited to the Dalabon language, but also occurs in Bininj Gun-wok and Rembarrnga, including with comitative markers that are not cognate with the Dalabon marker. In addition, the Dalabon comitative constructions can also express the transfer of contents of communication with verbs meaning ‘tell’ or ‘ask’, an extension that is not attested in Bininj Gun-wok or Rembarrnga.
Keywords: valence, diathesis, benefactive applicative, comitative applicative, animacy, polysynthesis, transfer semantics, Dalabon, Gunwinyguan, Australian Aboriginal languages
- 2.The languages in this study
- 3.The dalabon verb complex
- 4.Benefactive applicative constructions
Comitative applicative constructions
- 5.1Syntax and semantics
- 5.2Distribution of labor between the comitative and benefactive applicative markers
- 5.3Malefactive transfer constructions
- 5.4Communication transfer constructions: Transfer of content of speech
Gloss abbreviations not listed in the Leipzig Glossing Rules
Data type abbreviations
Published online: 10 March 2021
Evans, N., Brown, D., & Corbett, G.
Evans, N., Fletcher, J., & Ross, B.
Evans, N., & Merlan, F.
Evans, N., Merlan, F., & Tukumba, M.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
Lehmann, C., & Shin, Y.-M.
Luk, E., & Ponsonnet, M.
Ross, B. B.
Schlesinger, I. M.