The Thaayorre lexicon of putting and taking

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This paper investigates the lexical semantics and relative distributions of verbs describing putting and taking events in Kuuk Thaayorre, a Pama-Nyungan language of Cape York (Australia). Thaayorre put/take verbs can be subcategorised according to whether they may combine with an NP encoding a goal, an NP encoding a source, or both. Goal NPs are far more frequent in natural discourse: initial analysis shows 85% of goal-oriented verb tokens to be accompanied by a goal NP, while only 31% of source-oriented verb tokens were accompanied by a source. This finding adds weight to Ikegami’s (1987) assertion of the conceptual primacy of goals over sources, reflected in a cross-linguistic dissymmetry whereby goal-marking is less marked and more widely used than source-marking.


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