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An areal and cross-linguistic study of benefactive and malefactive constructions

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Abstract

In this study, we compare languages of Europe with those in Asia, establishing a two-part typology of strategies that these languages use to express notions of benefactivity and malefactivity. Languages in Europe have a generalized and semantically underspecified <sc>affectedness construction</sc> as the most unmarked construction in their repertoire; this can be used in both benefactive and malefactive situations. On the other hand, in the vast majority of the languages of South Asia, mainland Southeast Asia, and East Asia, <sc>benefactive constructions</sc> are separate from <sc>malefactive constructions</sc>, and each one is semantically robust and restricted in its applicability to either fortunate or unfortunate situations. An important question to raise is the interrelatedness between this areal distribution and each area&#8217;s societal values and cultural practice.

References

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