A morphosemantic investigation of diminutive verbs in French and Modern Greek

Angeliki Efthymiou

Abstract


Driven by a shortage of studies of evaluative verbs from a contrastive perspective, this paper examines French and Modern Greek diminutive verbs with the aim of shedding light on their morphosemantic characteristics. After an overview of the recent literature on evaluative morphology, I present an analysis of the similarities and contrasts between deverbal diminutive verbs in French and Modern Greek. It is shown that there are a lot of similarities between French and Modern Greek evaluative verbs (e.g. both French and Modern Greek verbs express various values, such as attenuation, depreciation, etc.), but at the same time, both French and Modern Greek have their own specific sub-patterns: e.g. the meaning of diminution in Modern Greek is (almost) always expressed by prefixoids and prefixes (e.g. kutso-vlépo ‘see poorly’, psefto-δjavázo ‘to study half-heartedly’), while French evaluative verbs are mainly formed by means of suffixes (e.g. boit-iller ‘to limp slightly’, march-otter ‘to walk with difficulty, unsteadily’). It is argued that the asymmetry between the two languages might be linked to the degree of inflectionality of each language (French considered weakly inflecting vs. Modern Greek considered strongly inflecting language). Furthermore, it is argued that the difference between French and Modern Greek might be related the diversity of evaluative morphological means in Modern Greek, compared to the comparatively fewer ones in French. Finally, it is suggested that the asymmetry between the two languages might be linked to the fact that the derived verbal lexicon in French is rather poor in terms of (non-evaluative) derivational suffixes (e.g. -iser, -ifier, being the only verbalizing suffixes), while in Modern Greek the derived verbal lexicon is richer (see e.g. áro, -éno, -évo, -ízo, -(i)ázo, -óno: Ralli 2005, Efthymiou 2014)

Keywords


diminutives; verbs; French; Modern Greek

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