Putting and Taking in Tamil and Hindi

Narasimhan, B. (2012). Putting and Taking in Tamil and Hindi. In A. Kopecka, & B. Narasimhan (Eds.), Events of putting and taking: A crosslinguistic perspective (pp. 201-230). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Many languages have general or “light” verbs used by speakers to describe a wide range of situations owing to their relatively schematic meanings, e.g., the English verb do that can be used to describe many different kinds of actions, or the verb put that labels a range of types of placement of objects at locations. Such semantically bleached verbs often become grammaticalized and used to encode an extended (set of) meaning(s), e.g., Tamil veyyii ‘put/place’ is used to encode causative meaning in periphrastic causatives (e.g., okkara veyyii ‘make sit’, nikka veyyii ‘make stand’). But do general verbs in different languages have the same kinds of (schematic) meanings and extensional ranges? Or do they reveal different, perhaps even cross-cutting, ways of structuring the same semantic domain in different languages? These questions require detailed crosslinguistic investigation using comparable methods of eliciting data. The present study is a first step in this direction, and focuses on the use of general verbs to describe events of placement and removal in two South Asian languages, Hindi and Tamil.
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