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Against the addressee of speech – Recipient metaphor

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Abstract

In Standard Average European (SAE), addressees of speech verbs are marked with dative or, in languages lacking cases, with dative-like prepositions. This merger is commonly explained through a metaphor: the information transferred in a speech act is said to be construed as the object being transferred, or Theme, and the addressee as its Recipient. This status of the addressee as a derived concept, a metaphor of the Recipient, and its dative marking in many languages rather than in SAE alone, is the reason why the addressee is usually not considered to be a separate semantic role. Based on data from East Caucasian languages that use different marking for Recipients and addressees of speech, I argue that speech addressees constitute a separate semantic role, also an animate Goal, but not a metaphor of the Recipient. Focusing on case marking assigned by the main speech verb, speech acts are shown to be construed in East Caucasian as spatial configurations: the crucial component is their directedness towards the addressee. In the conclusion, I come back to SAE and question the status of the dative addressees. Taking into account that the dative often develops from lative markers, it is suggested that, in the languages with dative addressees, one should also consider an alternative to the conventional explanation: merging the Recipient and the addressee in one marking may result not from a metaphorical extension but from formal under-specification of two different animate Goals. Keywords: semantic roles; speech verbs; case functions; metaphor; dative; allative; Recipient; Goal; East Caucasian languages

References

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