THE VERB -JI ~ -JU ~ -J ~ -D(I) 'SAY, DO' IN NYULNYULAN LANGUAGES

WILLIAM McGREGOR, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Like a number of Australian Aboriginal languages, the Nyulnyulan
languages of Dampier Land, north-west Australia, show a single verb -JI
~ -JU ~ -J ~ -D(I) (etc.) that translates sometimes as 'say', sometimes
as 'do', among other things. In this paper I investigate the semantics
and syntax of this verb, with particular  but not exclusive 
reference to two of the languages which I have been investigating
myself over the past decade or so, namely Warrwa and Nyulnyul.

	This verb is particulary interesting because it is so general,
and shows an extremely wide range of uses, both as a simple verb and as
a classifier (auxiliary) in compound verb constructions. Along with
this, it is extremely frequent textually, in all Nyulnyulan languages.
As a simple verb, it generally means (in most of the languages) 'say,
say/speak to', and sometimes 'think', 'want', 'like', and so forth. The
range differs somewhat across the languages, and I will attempt to
characterise the differences. As a classifier in compound verb
constructions, {-JI} appears to indicate no more than that the referent
process is an active one. The verb thus plays an enormously important
role in process (or event) representation in Nyulnyulan languages, even
though the meaning it conveys, particularly in compound verb
constructions, appears to be almost negligible.

	Aside from describing the "facts", I want to make some proposals
concerning the representation and explication of the semantics and
syntactics of the verb (including valence and/or argument structure),
and raise the question of the status of the various meanings
distinguished  are they etically or emically distinguishable  and
whether a monosemic account is justifiable. Finally, want to make a few
observations on similarities to and differences from the corresponding
verb in other languages of Australia and elsewhere, and the processes
of grammaticisation they have undergone.

Date created: 26 March 1998
Last modified: 26 March 1998
 1998 William McGregor
Maintained by: David Nash

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