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Description of reciprocal situations in Lao


Enfield,  N. J.
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Radboud University Nijmegen;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Human Sociality and Systems of Language Use, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language documentation and data mining;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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Enfield, N. J. (2011). Description of reciprocal situations in Lao. In N. Evans, A. Gaby, S. C. Levinson, & A. Majid (Eds.), Reciprocals and semantic typology (pp. 129-149). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

This article describes the grammatical resources available to speakers of Lao for describing situations that can be described broadly as ‘reciprocal’. The analysis is based on complementary methods: elicitation by means of non-linguistic stimuli, exploratory consultation with native speakers, and investigation of corpora of spontaneous language use. Typically, reciprocal situations are described using a semantically general ‘collaborative’ marker on an action verb. The resultant meaning is that some set of people participate in a situation ‘together’, broadly construed. The collaborative marker is found in two distinct syntactic constructions, which differ in terms of their information structural contexts of use. The paper first explores in detail the semantic range of the collaborative marker as it occurs in the more common ‘Type 1’ construction, and then discusses a special pragmatic context for the ‘Type 2’ construction. There is some methodological discussion concerning the results of elicitation via video stimuli. The chapter also discusses two specialised constructions dedicated to the expression of strict reciprocity.