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Thread: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

  1. #21
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    Let's try to break up my question into parts:

    (1) Can you make a verb negative using morphemes? (Like cover/ uncover (discover too, I think, but it is not always neg.), tie/untie, ...)
    (2) If not: how do you go about it? Only using words with different roots (lexical way), or ... ?
    (3) Is there some way of linking the opposites (verbs) non-morphologically, i.e., show the (inherent...) link?
    (4) Or do you think there is a good reason why opposites (verbs) often don't show that link? Or maybe: why do you have lexical opposites (good/ bad, ...), and only sometimes a morphological negative form, like kind/unkind, economic/ uneconomic (?)
    I'll try to answer these for English:

    1. No.
    2. For most verbs this is syntactic: the verb do is added (properly conjugated) and followed by not (generally contracted) followed by the verb. A select number of verbs allow not alone to form their negations (be, have, will, etc.) and these are also generally contracted.
    3. It depends on what you include in your pairing of opposites; but that is a philosophical question, not a linguistic one.
    4. English doesn't mark verbal negation morphologically; the prefixing you are describing is derivational affixing, while the formation of negatives would be inflectional (and something English doesn't have for verbs).


    JE

  2. #22
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    But as for 1: you can sometimes un-, can't you? Or maybe dis-, though not simply negative (well, there is as- vs. dis-, but that might be considered different)?
    As for 3 : OK, but taking one simple definition of opposites (the tradtional one): ... ?
    As for 4: I had been wondering whether these prefixes were not an aspect of morphology. The endings are, aren't they? Sorry, if I was wrong.

  3. #23
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Isn't undo different than not to do, though? (real negation) The meaning obviously is different: what I meant was as a type of verb, in relation to its formation and function.
    Last edited by LilianaB; 2nd January 2013 at 8:16 PM.

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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    Many verbs don't seem to have an obvious negative meaning, i.e. what is the opposite of "run"?
    I think it is instead obvious. The opposite of "running" is "not running". If English had a verb that would exactly express that somebody doesn't run and wouldn't express anything in addition, then it would be the perfect opposite of the verb "to run" (the innate property of opposites seems to be that they exclude each other), but English doesn't have such a verb. Consider, for example the verb "to lack", that seems to be a very good opposite for the verb "to have".
    Last edited by e2-e4 X; 2nd January 2013 at 9:16 PM.

  5. #25
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by e2-e4 X View Post
    Consider, for example the verb "to lack", that seems to be a very good opposite for the verb "to have".
    Or want or miss. Which on is the true opposite? What criteria are you using to decide?

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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Is the oppositie of 'to run' that obvious? 'Not to run' leaves a lot of room for interpretation, I think: walking slowly, standing still, etc. So indeed, the true opposite here is not clear. To close/ to disclose seems different already, I mean, those seem 'truer' opposites to me. Having and missing seem like opposites, but those are not the only ones, I suppose: having and getting might be considered opposites too, then, I suppose. I suppose a lot has to do with the 'preciseness' (precision) of a word/concept's meaning.

    BTW: cheap in French is bon-marché in Fr., goedkoop in Dutch (it seems like a calque).
    Last edited by ThomasK; 2nd January 2013 at 9:34 PM.

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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Escritor View Post
    Or want or miss. Which on is the true opposite? What criteria are you using to decide?
    Well, I think one word can have many opposites in a language. I can't understand why 'want' might be an opposite for 'have', because wanting doesn't even contradict having. I use two criteria:
    1) two opposites contradict each other: the more they do so, the better; *
    2) an opposite adds as little as possible to the contradition of the other word's meaning.
    According to these criteria, the perfect opposites are "good/not good" and "bad/not bad", and a less exact pair of opposites is "bad/good".

    * For example, getting seems to be a partial opposite of having, because getting could imply you didn't have the thing in the beginning but means you have it in the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK
    'Not to run' leaves a lot of room for interpretation, I think: walking slowly, standing still, etc.
    Indeed. Just like "to run" or any other expression. One could run in so many ways, for example, the purposes can be different: the runner wants to be in time, or the runner wants to escape a danger, etc.
    Last edited by e2-e4 X; 2nd January 2013 at 10:08 PM.

  8. #28
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    But as for 1: you can sometimes un-, can't you? Or maybe dis-, though not simply negative (well, there is as- vs. dis-, but that might be considered different)?
    No, you can't. That is not a negative, the prefix un- does not mean 'not': uncover does not mean 'not cover', it means 'to remove the cover from something'.
    As for 3 : OK, but taking one simple definition of opposites (the tradtional one): ... ?
    Still philosophy and not linguistics.
    As for 4: I had been wondering whether these prefixes were not an aspect of morphology. The endings are, aren't they? Sorry, if I was wrong.
    The prefixes are aspects of morphology, sure, but they are not part of inflectional morphology (which is what it would be to morphologically negate a verb); they are part of derivational morphology (they unpredictably change the meaning/part of speech of the verb). Verbal negation should be perfectly productive; but what you've described is not perfectly productive: We can have to ride and the productive negative formation to not ride (do not ride when conjugated) but there is nothing productive about unride or disride, which almost anyone will tell you are meaningless non-words.

    True negation in English is phrasal, not morphological.

    JE

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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    On the other hand, my point was: does not having this V/un-V combination imply that one language (...) does not perceive a [semantic] link that another one does? Does it refer to a different worldview in that respect? (i did not wish to imply that the former was more fundamental, let alone that one language is more precise than another !)

    @JE: I see your point, I think. 'Negation' was a wrong choice, but 'opposite' might be better. As for linquistics and philosophy: doesn't pragmatics introduce some kind of philosophy/ background/ context into the linguistic theory?
    Last edited by ThomasK; 2nd January 2013 at 9:46 PM.

  10. #30
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by e2-e4 X View Post
    I think it is instead obvious. The opposite of "running" is "not running". If English had a verb that would exactly express that somebody doesn't run and wouldn't express anything in addition, then it would be the perfect opposite of the verb "to run" (the innate property of opposites seems to be that they exclude each other), but English doesn't have such a verb. Consider, for example the verb "to lack", that seems to be a very good opposite for the verb "to have".
    Well, I am not sure that can count as an opposite. “Not running” is a basic denial of any activity of running. Every activity that doesn’t involve running would be an opposite of “run” then: sitting, driving, resting, sleeping etc. So I have to agree with ThomasK here.
    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    BTW: cheap in French is bon-marché in Fr., goedkoop in Dutch (it seems like a calque).
    Which again proves my point. French does not have a simplex word for cheap. You have to say it in some other way. Not expensive, good deal etc. Adjectives are not really part of the question though
    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasK View Post
    On the other hand, my point was: does not having this V/un-V combination imply that one language (...) does not perceive a [semantic] link that another one does? Does it refer to a different worldview in that respect? (i did not wish to imply that the former was more fundamental, let alone that one language is more precise than another !)
    Could you please find a language that uses this strategy extensively for reversing the meaning of verbs? A handful of verbs in English where this is possible is hardly enough to establish a different world view.

    And what makes you think that a language lacking the V/un-V combination implies that the speakers of that particular language perceive no [semantic] link between the members of a given verb pair? The Norwegian verb for untie does not contain a negative (or reversing) prefix like English does, but it certainly contains the root tie. Norwegian tie and untie are very related.

    Finally, I seriously doubt the effects this may have on world views. To open and to close can be considered opposite actions. They are very different phonologically but people probably have enough real-world knowledge to see that they are semantically linked in spite of this.

  11. #31
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Yes, I agree with some points in post 28. For me the only real opposite of run is not to run. As to linguistics -- linguistics is really the philosophy of language, among other things, and it started as a branch of philosophy (just a side note). Such prefixes as dis-, un-, mis- in English don't indicate negation.

  12. #32
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    Could you please find a language that uses this strategy extensively for reversing the meaning of verbs? A handful of verbs in English where this is possible is hardly enough to establish a different world view.

    And what makes you think that a language lacking the V/un-V combination implies that the speakers of that particular language perceive no [semantic] link between the members of a given verb pair? The Norwegian verb for untie does not contain a negative (or reversing) prefix like English does, but it certainly contains the root tie. Norwegian tie and untie are very related.

    Finally, I seriously doubt the effects this may have on world views. To open and to close can be considered opposite actions. They are very different phonologically but people probably have enough real-world knowledge to see that they are semantically linked in spite of this.
    I did not think so, I just wondered. I always look at roots of words, i.e., etymology, and thus metaphors to some extent - and that gets me going, wondering. Of course I am generally forced to review assumptions, think it through, etc. So that is fruitful, though somehow disappointing in the sense that I am again disillusioned, but I get used to that.

  13. #33
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    And what makes you think that a language lacking the V/un-V combination implies that the speakers of that particular language perceive no [semantic] link between the members of a given verb pair? The Norwegian verb for untie does not contain a negative (or reversing) prefix like English does, but it certainly contains the root tie. Norwegian tie and untie are very related.

    Finally, I seriously doubt the effects this may have on world views. To open and to close can be considered opposite actions. They are very different phonologically but people probably have enough real-world knowledge to see that they are semantically linked in spite of this.

    I did not think so, I just wondered. I always look at roots of words, the etymology, and that often leads me to metaphors – and their impact. That is how I got to think that there might be… But I am generally forced to review assumptions, reformulate my thoughts, etc., so that is fruitful, though somehow disappointing. ;-)

    We do have a lot of phrasal verbs (…) with ont-, weg-, af-, which all have some negative connotation, and other languages don’t. That has got me going… So thanks for all the contributions.
    Last edited by ThomasK; 3rd January 2013 at 8:46 AM.

  14. #34
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Hebrew doesnt have these(negating ones) inherently, and those we have are a translation of english ones, resulting in some difficulty to use, neglected over the years except for a few.
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    Well, I am not sure that can count as an opposite. “Not running” is a basic denial of any activity of running.
    Sorry, I can't see your point. You seem to say that this concept is not a real one and as such can't be counted as an opposite of anything. I can't see why; these two words (not activities, but words) do convey a meaning and therefore express a concept.

    Let's take the word 'trempicate' that doesn't seem to exist in English and attach the meaning of not running to it. I guess it could be used like that: "It's not his fault that he's late!" - "It is. He trempicated". The verb is meaningful and looks like a very vivid opposite of running, although it sure doesn't exist in English.
    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    Every activity that doesn’t involve running would be an opposite of “run” then: sitting, driving, resting, sleeping etc.
    Not quite. Any word that would mean an activity that by definition cannot involve running would be an opposite of 'run', more or less precise (the less it tells in addition to contradicting the meaning of the verb 'to run', and the more natural and necessary those additions are — the more precise the opposite is). Why not?
    Last edited by e2-e4 X; 3rd January 2013 at 11:22 AM.

  16. #36
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    It is not easy at all, it seems to me, but it looks like a useful term if we start from an exact definition of the 'posited', as you suggest...

    BTW: basically that is a metaphor as well ( in front of the 'posited', hindering us), and we have given it some kind of meaning, but it remains quite abstract, I am afraid. I am afraid the same holds of negation...

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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Sorry? What is not easy at all? What looks like a useful term? What you're referring to by the word 'posited'? What thing is a metaphor here? Thanks!

  18. #38
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    'Opposite' looks like a useful term, but it is not easy to define, I think. Opposite is a metaphor, based on ob + ponere, so, to put in front of and thus hinder (someone). That was very concrete, like an obstacle, but when used as an abstract word, or as a metaphor, it becomes more difficult, I think...

  19. #39
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Hi, Thomas. I am not sure if verbs can have opposites, or real antonyms, at all, other than the ones resulting from the morphological negation.To be motionless, does not necessarily mean not to run. To walk may contain the meaning of not to run within its lexical field, but it may mean many other things as well. (at least in Indo-European languages).
    Last edited by LilianaB; 3rd January 2013 at 12:29 PM.

  20. #40
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    Re: Alternatives to morphological negation with verbs?

    Hebrew:
    If you mean to ask if we can say "not verb-ing/ed/etc" yes we can, but we dont have original prefixes, only translated ones.
    We also have opposite verbs, sometimes by root, sometimes by binyan - they are pure opposite is worth mentioning I think.
    חימם קירר khimem kirer are opposites, first is made something hotter, second cooler.
    Last edited by berndf; 3rd January 2013 at 1:10 PM. Reason: Capitals
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