Snippets of linguistic insight, as found in various textbooks


Sources of conditional connectives (if, when...)
Hopper, Traugott 1993, chapter 7
  1. forms for modality, e.g.: suppose
  2. interrogatives
  3. temporals expressing duration or are ambiguous between duration and punctuality
  4. copula constructions [it being that]
  5. forms signalling something as known or given, [given that]

Pidgins and creoles

Characteristics of minimal pidgins
Hopper, Traugott 1993, chapter 8
  1. a lexicon comprised largely of the two major categories N and V (e.g., Tok Pisin sik used for `be sick, disease')
  2. lack of word formation rules in the lexicon
  3. periphrasis (e.g., Tok Pisin haus sik `hospital', gras bilong pisin `feather', literally `grass of bird')
  4. temporal expressions expressed by adverbs or particles (e.g., Tok Pisin baimbai `later, future,' pinis `finished, completed, past`); no consistent means of expressing tense, aspect, or modality
  5. absence of inflection and allomorphy
  6. absence of clefting, topicalization, etc., largely resulting from absence of fixed word order
  7. absence of embedding
  8. absence of stylistic variants
Characteristics of creoles
Hopper, Traugott 1993, chapter 8
  1. articles: a distinction between
    • definite inferential [I bought the book (that you already know about)],
    • indefinite referential [I bought a (particular) book]
    • indefinite non-referential [I bought a book (or books)] (not even the speaker knows which book(s))
  2. tense-modality-aspect systems, often through periphrasis, typically sequences of
    • ±relative past tense
    • ±irrealis modality
    • ±punctual aspect
  3. a distinction is made between
    • realized (+realis) complementation [decided to do it and did it]
    • unrealized (-realis) complementation [decided to do it but didn't, for some reason]
  4. multiple (aka. "double") negation: in negative sentences typically both the non-definite subjects, non-definite verb phrase constituents and the verb must all be negated: [I didn't see nothin'!]
  5. clause dependency, especially relativization
  6. focusing by leftward movement


Types of complex clauses
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1
  1. coordinate and non-embedded subordinate constructions:
    • One boy sang and another boy danced -> One boy sang. Another boy danced.
    • One boy sang while another boy sang -> One boy sang. (At the same time, ) Another boy danced.
    The verbs in the clauses are independent.
  2. relative clause constructions: a clause modifies an N and is part of an NP
  3. complement clause constructions: a clause is a core argument of another clause (usually object) and the outer, higher clause has a verb from a restricted set, usually the verbs see, hear, know, believe, like and often tell.
Not all languages have complement clause constructions
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1

Instead, or in addition, they might have one or more complementation strategies

Some languages have extended intransitive clauses
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1

Abbreviated E, this is often marked by dative

Only a subset of intransitives can be extended, just about the same subset that can take a complement clause

Secondary verbs, aka, secondary concepts, must have an argument that is a clause
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1
Verbs that may be complemented
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1
  • see, hear, notice, smell, show
  • recognize, discover, find
  • think (of/about/over), consider, imagine, dream (of/about)
  • assume, suppose
  • remember, forget
  • know, understand
  • believe, suspect
  • like, love, prefer, regret
  • fear
  • enjoy
  • say, inform, tell (one sense)
  • report
  • describe, refer to
  • promise, threaten
  • order, command, persuade, tell (one sense)
  • SPEAKING-verbs are only complemented if the language has a way of showing indirect speech. Some languages only employ direct speech

Some English verb/adjective pairs that are complemented
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1
Adjective Verb
unsure (of/about) doubt
sorry (about) regret
afraid (of) fear
fond (of) enjoy
eager (for) want
Types of secondary concepts
Dixon, Aikhenvald 2006, chapter 1
No addition to the semantic roles associated with its related verb
  • Most likely a verbal affix or a modifier
  • If a verb and transitive, the complement clause has the same subject as the outer verb
  • If a verb and intransitive, the complement clause is the subject of the outer verb.
  • Concepts included:
    1. Negators: not, don't
    2. Modals: can, should, must, might
    3. Beginning: begin, start, continue, stop, cease, finish
    4. Trying: try, attempt
want, wish (for), hope (for), pretend
  • Prefers same subject in both clauses but must'nt
  • As transitive verbs with complement as O
  • As extended intransitive verbs with complement as E
make, cause, force, let, help
Realized by either:
  • A verbal affix increasing the valency by one, adding a causer/helper
  • A verb taking a complement as O
Subject of outer and inner verb are assumed to be different.

Dixon, Richard M. W., and Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2006. Complementation.

Hopper, Paul J., and Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 1993. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.