Volume 32, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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The paper reports on a cross-linguistic survey of translational equivalents of the Standard Average European concept of wanting. It is conducted on a variety sample of 73 languages, each of which was checked for morphosyntactic and semantic properties of its regular means for expressing wanting, i.e. desideratives. Desideratives are shown to typically have other meanings in addition to ‘want’, an array of modal and mental-emotive senses. I suggest that the combination of these meanings with ‘want’ can insightfully be analyzed as a macrofunction, each language making its own decision about the set of situations in which its desideratives can be used. The often-claimed status of WANT as an alleged universal semantic prime is thus seriously called into question by the evidence from languages which always express wanting together with some other situations.


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