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Morphosyntax / Re: A question about Performativity
« Last post by vox on September 19, 2018, 07:24:52 AM »
Quote from: Old Nick
In the different pieces I read about the topic I was surprised that religions and magics are usually not mentioned as examples whereas they do a massive use of performative utterances: prayers, rituals, sacrifices, etc., all aim at getting a gain, at having something done, at changing the course of events, etc.
An important philosophical debate took place in the Middle-Age in Europe from 1280 to 1348 about the power of incantations. The question was : can we act on the matter remotely, just by the power of words ? The participants were debating about something that had clearly something to do with performativity but their approaches were too metaphysics-oriented to say they had found out performativity before the philosophers of the 20th century. Anyway, it’s a fascinating debate, very interesting to read if you want to : Beatrice Delaurenti, La puissance des mots « virtus verborum ». Débats doctrinaux sur le pouvoir des incantations au Moyen-Age, Cerf (it’s written by a historian).
You can also read this article : Tzvetan Todorov, Le discours de la magie, L’Homme (13/4). He analyses the structure of incantations declaimed to trigger a healing (but Todorov is not a linguist either).
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Morphosyntax / Re: A question about Performativity
« Last post by Old Nick on September 19, 2018, 02:06:30 AM »
I am on the leave for a couple of days. I'll be back to you by the week-end.
Nick
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Morphosyntax / Re: A question about Performativity
« Last post by Daniel on September 19, 2018, 01:24:01 AM »
Quote
Then it’s the same economy of means1 as in evolution. The context is supposed to tell the mode, right?
Yes, it's making use of an existing structure while adapting it to a new purpose. This is how almost everything works in language change, and therefore the source for most constructions. You could look to imperatives for some relatively parallel developments, such as some languages using infinitives or infinitive-like forms, others using subjunctives, and so forth. (Notice how for example, Romance languages vary in whether negative imperatives look like imperatives, or some other inflected form like subjunctives, or also often infinitives.)

I suppose the term you're looking for might be 'multi-functionality', although specifically the phrasing 'economy of means' makes sense too.

Quote
I think it’s much more common than we usually realize. Infants start using performative mode very early: they try to do things and make things happen by speech act. It’s very common in politics and activism too. I was a student at the Sorbonne University in the 60’s. De Gaulle was reigning by his speech. In 68 we beat him by the same weapon.
It is probably more common than we would typically assume. But that doesn't make it more frequent than other functions. That is, imperatives also aren't as common as declaratives (or probably interrogatives either), but they're common enough to have grammaticalized with specialized forms in many languages. As a simple comparison, you could look to see whether performatives are as frequent as imperatives in typical speech. My assumption is that they are not. They're certainly widespread, and in some sense "frequent", but they don't seem to have crossed whatever threshold there is for the grammaticalization of specialized verb forms. You might look at languages where religion or other performative-related acts are more culturally central. For example, the 'jussive' in Arabic could arguably be something along these lines, and Islam is an important factor in the development of Arabic. Similarly, you could look at some languages with highly developed ritual systems/registers to see if they had any special means of expressing these things. That's outside my expertise but an interesting possibility.

--

By the way, actually doing a corpus based study of speech acts might be an interesting project. I'm not sure to what extent that has already been explored (if so, and in detail, you might be able to just refer to those numbers, and if not, it might be worth pursuing and even publishing in itself).
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Morphosyntax / Re: A question about Performativity
« Last post by Old Nick on September 19, 2018, 12:58:44 AM »
Thanks for your quick response Daniel, :)

This is a good and reasonable question.
Thanks for the compliment! ;)

However, my best guess is that it just isn't a frequent enough speech act to typically lead to grammaticalization of a special form of verbs (for example). Indeed, you could argue that English "let" or French "que+subjunctive" or various other expressions are a sort of grammatical mode, with grammaticalized expression, but they're sort of piggy-backing on existing structures.
Then it’s the same economy of means1 as in evolution. The context is supposed to tell the mode, right?

Quote
Performative mode is extremely common in everyday talk yet is there a corresponding grammatical mode?
Widespread, but I wouldn't say especially common.
I think it’s much more common than we usually realize. Infants start using performative mode very early: they try to do things and make things happen by speech act. It’s very common in politics and activism too. I was a student at the Sorbonne University in the 60’s. De Gaulle was reigning by his speech. In 68 we beat him by the same weapon.

Nick

1) I am not sure of the expression in English.
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Morphosyntax / Re: A question about Performativity
« Last post by Daniel on September 18, 2018, 07:54:25 AM »
This is a good and reasonable question. However, my best guess is that it just isn't a frequent enough speech act to typically lead to grammaticalization of a special form of verbs (for example). Indeed, you could argue that English "let" or French "que+subjunctive" or various other expressions are a sort of grammatical mode, with grammaticalized expression, but they're sort of piggy-backing on existing structures.
Quote
Performative mode is extremely common in everyday talk yet is there a corresponding grammatical mode?
Widespread, but I wouldn't say especially common. You could do a study of this to see how often it is used compared to other functions. There are a lot of things in language that don't grammaticalize (or especially don't become new verb forms, etc.), and I just don't think this one is common enough (or difficult enough to express using existing means?) to need something entirely new to develop.

But again, depending on what you mean by "grammatical mode" you could probably already say that's the case.
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Morphosyntax / A question about Performativity
« Last post by Old Nick on September 18, 2018, 03:58:53 AM »
Hi all

I am wondering whether there is in some languages a grammatical mode for Performativity.
The very first example was God’s “Let there be light!”
In French it was translated into “Que la lumière soit !” The structure “Que” + subjonctive is considered to be a form of third person imperative. You would say to someone to transmit the injunction: “Qu’elle vienne me voir !”
In the different pieces I read about the topic I was surprised that religions and magics are usually not mentioned as examples whereas they do a massive use of performative utterances: prayers, rituals, sacrifices, etc., all aim at getting a gain, at having something done, at changing the course of events, etc.

Performative mode is extremely common in everyday talk yet is there a corresponding grammatical mode?

Regards

Nick
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Wow!  So interesting, thank you.  Maybe the family story is true then regarding the Greek great grandmother.  I will keep looking as you suggest, but it's really helpful to have an expert eye to set up the critical questions. 

Many thanks again. 
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OK, I can see it now! Deciphering handwriting in an unfamiliar script (even if you know how the printed characters look) can be very challenging. An obvious case is with Cyrillic cursive (https://apics-online.info/surveys/42) which can actually look misleadningly like Latin cursive. However, here, at least we're working with separate characters. I'll attach just the name part of the image here so everything is in one place.

What I see really does look like Greek, at least for some letters. I know only a little bit of Greek, and I'm not especially familiar with handwriting, so I'll have to guess here. Asking a Greek speaker would be a good next step. What I see in the image looks something like this:
/μαριωg στραθη/

The last name is particularly clear. The first is uncertain. All of the letters I wrote above are Greek, except for the first name's final "g" (in bold) which is just what it looks like to me. Maybe that's just a fancy tail on an alpha so it would be another 'a'? Otherwise I'm not sure...

Transliterating we'd get:
"MarioX Strathi"

The first name is then a bit of a mystery. If it's just "Maria" then in Greek it would be "Μαρία", letter-by-letter the same. I don't know what the extra ending is there.

The last name is interesting: it quite clearly isn't "Stanthe" (at least as far as I can read the letters), but looks fairly close. The English translation could actually be a change (some people would do that for various reasons, either that it sounds/looks better in a language, or because they want to sort of hide their ethnic origins, often the case with immigrants at Ellis Island, etc.), but I don't know if that would make sense in parallel usage as in this certificate. The English version, as you say, is not especially clear. So maybe it does just say "Strathe". Does that look possible? I think maybe.

So "Maria Strathe" seems reasonable. But I'm still not sure what the ending on the first name is. Maybe it's not actually the Greek form of the name, so you might look up other forms of "Maria" in Europe (you mentioned Albanian, for example, but look more broadly too) to see if you can locate one that has some kind of ending in the feminine form like "ioX" where X is some yet-unknown letter. Starting with a list like this might help: https://nameberry.com/list/63/Marys-International-Variations -- I don't see this specific form listed there, but maybe if you keep looking. It's possible it's also a historical variant or something.

The next step would be to ask a Greek speaker, and maybe to reach out to some genealogy experts for that part of the world. Asking linguists a question like this can give you some technical information, but for really figuring it out we're limited by how much specific knowledge we have of individual languages-- from this point, this is a 'bottom up' question (from knowing the specific right language) question rather than 'top down' (narrowing possibilities, guessing based on cross-linguistic patterns). Remember also that even though it does appear to be the Greek alphabet, it's possible that the name itself is originally from another language and just then spelled in Greek (perhaps following immigration, or marriage, or just an older traditional name in the family from generations before). I can't personally help more because while I know a lot about linguistics I know relatively little about genealogy or Greek specifically. I hope that helps some though!
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Thank you Daniel, sorry about that.  Also thinking I should have entitled this post: Which Language...

I've tried to attach but it's too large, so hopefully it can be accessed here now. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H3SE6DODxHxw117axxUkA-Chp0gI5K4t/view?usp=sharing

Since I posted earlier I've doubted myself thinking it's not a language at all, or it's phonetic symbols.  However, the bridegroom worked for both the Ottoman and British governments as an interpreter, so I think that the inclusion of the script I am curious about must mean something.   
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Interesting question. The link you posted, however, requires a sign in to ancestry.com, so I can't view it. You could post it here as an attachment or link to it somewhere else.
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