Cappadocia: where Greek prepositions come to die

Karatsareas, P. and Georgakopoulos, T. 2014. Cappadocia: where Greek prepositions come to die. 6th International Conference of Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistics Theory. University of Patras, Greece Sep 2014

TitleCappadocia: where Greek prepositions come to die
AuthorsKaratsareas, P. and Georgakopoulos, T.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The Cappadocian variety of Ulaghátsh is unique among the Greek-speaking world in having lost the inherited preposition ‘se’. The innovation is found with both locative and allative uses and has af-ected both syntactic contexts in which ‘se’ was originally found, that is, as a simple preposition (1) and as the left-occurring member of circumpositions of the type ‘se’ + NP + spatial adverb (2).

(1)
a. tránse ci [to meidán] en ávʝa
see.PST.3SG COMP ART.DEF.SG.ACC yard.SG.ACC COP.3 game.PL.NOM
‘he saw that in the yard is some game’ (Dawkins 1916: 348)

b. ta erʝó da qardáʃa évɣan [to qonáq]
ART.DEF.PL.NOM two ART.DEF.PL.NOM friend.PL.NOM ascend.PST.3PL ART.DEF.SG.ACC house.SG.ACC
‘the two friends went up to the house’ (Dawkins 1916: 354)

(2) émi [ta qonáca mésa], kiríʃde [to ʝasdɯ́q píso]
enter.PST.3SG ART.DEF.PL.NOM house.PL.ACC inside hide.PST.3SG. ART.DEF.SG.ACC cushion.SG.ACC behind
‘he went into the houses and hid behind the cushions’ (Dawkins 1916: 348)

In this paper, we set out to provide (a) a diachronic account of the loss of ‘se’ in Asia Minor Greek, and (b) a synchronic analysis of its ramifications for the encoding of the semantic and grammatical functions it had prior to its loss.

The diachronic development of ‘se’ is traced by comparing the Ulaghátsh data with those obtained from Cappadocian varieties that have neither lost it nor do they show signs of losing it and, crucially, also from varieties in which ‘se’ is in the process of being lost. The comparative analysis shows that the loss first became manifest in circumpositions in which ‘se’ was preposed to the complement to which in turn a wide range of adverbs expressing topological relations were postposed (émi sa qonáca mésa > émi ta qonáca mésa). This finding is accounted for in terms of Sinha and Kuteva’s (1995) distributed spatial semantics framework, which accepts that the elements involved in the constructions under investigation—the verb (émi), ‘se’ and the spatial adverb (mésa)—all contribute to the expression of the spatial relational meaning but with differences in weighting. Of the three, ‘eis’ made the most minimal contribution, the bulk of it being distributed over the verb and the adverb. This allowed for it to be optionally dropped from circumpositions, a stage attested in Phlo-tá Cappadocian and Silliot, and to be later completely abandoned, originally in allative and subsequently in locative contexts (earlier: évɣan so qonáq > évɣan to qonáq; later: so meidán en ávʝa > to meidán en ávʝa). The earlier loss in allative contexts is also dealt with in distributed semantics terms as verbs of motion such as έβγαν are semantically more loaded than vacuous verbs like the copula and therefore the preposition could be left out in the former context more easily than in the latter. The analysis also addresses the possibility that the loss of ‘se’ may ultimately originate in substandard forms of Medieval Greek, which according to Tachibana (1994) displayed SPATIAL ADVERB + NP constructions.

Applying the semantic map model (Croft 2003, Haspelmath 2003), the synchronic analysis of the varieties that retain ‘se’ reveals that—like many other allative markers crosslinguistically—it displays a pattern of multifunctionality in expressing nine different functions (among others allative, locative, recipient, addressee, experiencer), which can be mapped against four domains, viz. the spatiotemporal, the social, the mental and the logicotextual (cf. Rice & Kabata 2007). In Ulaghátsh Cappadocian, none of these functions is overtly marked as such. In cases like (1), the intended spatial relational meaning is arrived at through the combination of the syntax and the inherent semantics of the verb and the zero-marked NP as well as from the context. In environments of the type exemplified by (2), the adverb contributes further to the correct interpretation. The analysis additionally shows that, despite the loss of ‘se’, Ulaghátsh patterns with all other Cappadocian varieties in one important aspect: Goal and Location are expressed similarly (by zero in Ulaghátsh, by ‘se’ in the other varieties) whereas Source is being kept distinct (expressed by ‘apó’ in all varieties). Goal-Location polysemy is very common across the world’s languages and, most crucially, prevails over other possible polysemies in the tripartite distinction Source—Location—Goal (Lestrade 2010, Nikitina 2009). Taking into account this empirical observation, our findings suggest that the reor-anisation of spatial systems can have a local effect—in our case the loss of a member of the prepositional paradigm—but will keep the original global picture intact, thus conforming to crosslinguistically robust tendencies. 

References
Croft, W. 2001. Radical Construction Grammar: Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dawkins, R. M. 1916. Modern Greek in Asia Minor: A Study of the Dialects of Sílli, Cappadocia and Phárasa with Grammar, Texts, Translations and Glossary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Haspelmath, M. 2003. The geometry of grammatical meaning: semantic maps and cross-linguistic comparison. In M. Tomasello (Ed.), The New Psychology of Language, Volume 2. New York: Erlbaum, 211–243.

Lestrade, S. 2010. The Space of Case. Doctoral dissertation. Radboud University Nijmegen.

Nikitina, T. 2009. Subcategorization pattern and lexical meaning of motion verbs: a study of the source/goal ambiguity. Linguistics 47, 1113–1141.

Rice, S. & K. Kabata. 2007. Cross-linguistic grammaticalization patterns of the allative. Linguistic Typology 11, 451–514.

Sinha, C. & T. Kuteva. 1995. Distributed spatial semantics. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 18:2, 167–199.

Tachibana, T. 1994. Syntactic structure of spatial expressions in the “Late Byzantine Prose Alexander Romance”. Propylaia 6, 35–51.

Year2014
Conference6th International Conference of Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistics Theory
Accepted author manuscriptKaratsareas&Georgakopoulos_MGDLT6_slides.pdf
Karatsareas&Georgakopoulos_MGDLT6_handout.pdf

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