Hideo Sawada


Lhaovo, a Northern Burmish language spoken in Kachin State, shows a variety of desemanticization. It is observed in both nouns and verbs, the two lexical word classes of Lhaovo, as below.

1. Desemanticization of nouns
(1a) Common noun → Temporal noun:
e.g. ʔauL(lamL) ‘head’→ Attributive Clause (AC) + ʔauL ‘the time when …’.
(1b) Noun → Compound nominal head with abstract meaning:
e.g. tsajF ‘thing, property’ → VP-tsajF ‘the thing/matter to VP’;
(1c) Noun → Suffix modifying nouns/numeric quantifiers:
e.g. pamF ‘pile, mountain’ → N-pamF ‘PLURALITY’;
joŋL ‘he, she’ → NHuman-joŋL ‘N oneself’.
(1d) Noun → Case marker:
e.g. kʰjoF ‘road, way’→ NP-kʰjoF ‘ALLATIVE’.
(1e) Noun + Case marker → Case marking expression:
e.g. ɣ’itH ‘front’ + –meŋH ‘ABLATIVE’ → NP ɣ’itH-meŋH ‘BENEFACTIVE’,
AC ɣ’itH-meŋH ‘PURPOSIVE’.

2. Desemanticization of verbs
(2a) Verb → Suffix modifying numeric quantifiers
e.g. ceF ‘to be surplus’ → samF-tsʰeF-ceF ‘more than thirty’
(2b) Verb → Indicator of evidentiality
e.g. kaH ‘say.REALIS’→Sentence-kaH ‘HEARSAY’
(2c) Verb → Subordinate clause marker
e.g. muŋL ‘occur.REALIS’ → VP-muŋL ‘SEQUENTIAL’;
(2d) Verb → Case marker, case marking noun etc.
e.g. kaL ‘to say’ → Expression-kaL ‘QUOTATION’
(2e) Deverbal nominal → Case marker
e.g. H ‘to arrive’ + –ʃoʔH ‘so as to’ → NP-H-ʃoʔH ‘till NP’.
(2f) Case marker + Verb + Clause marker → Subordinate clause with abstract meaning
e.g. NP-H ‘COMITATIVE’ + tinL ‘to touch’ + –jaŋL ‘CONJUNCTIVE’ → NP-H tinL-jaŋL ‘about NP’.
(2g) Verbal element in multiverb constructions → Modifier of the head verb

Heine & Kuteva (2002) state that the process of grammaticalization involves three mechanisms in addition to desemanticization, that is, extension, decategorialization, and erosion. The mechanism of erosion is unavailable as an exponent of grammaticalization in Lhaovo, as mentioned in Sawada (2006). The aim of my presentation is to examine whether the extension and the decategorialization are involved in the instances above or not.