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Grammatical fear morphemes in Ese Ejja

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Abstract

Grammatical morphemes dedicated to emotions have been little described so far, except for surprise, which may be instantiated in a mirative category. It has even been suggested that an equivalent grammatical encoding for other basic emotions does not seem to occur crosslinguistically. This paper examines three grammatical morphemes in the Amazonian language Ese Ejja (Takanan), namely the apprehensive, the avertive and the timitive, and argues that all three morphemes express fear or its milder version apprehension, i.e. an emotion triggered by an undesirable, (highly) possible event. The morphemes essentially diverge in their syntactic scope (main verb, subordinated verb, or NP), their perspective (that of the speaker or the subject), and the possible absence vs. obligatory presence of a precautionary situation, i.e. the precautions taken to avoid the (consequences of the) feared event. After describing these features in Ese Ejja, the article outlines a crosslinguistic framework for the study of these categories.
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Keywords: apprehensive; emotion; fear; grammar; typology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 19, 2018

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