delocutives [was Graha epithets (tArA,tArakA and tAraka)]

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Wed Dec 10 17:15:25 UTC 1997

In response to Jonathan Silk's post:

>I am entirely unable to contribute to this (interesting!) discussion of
>tAra- etc. However, one small point made by our friend Dominique requires
>correction.  He wrote, concerning delocution:
>>        And the English and the American know verbs as 'to hail', 'to
>>encore', 'to yes'.
>As a native speaker (whether educated or not is another question) of
>American English, I am entirely unaware of any verbs such as 'to encore',
>or 'to yes'.  As to "to hail", of course it is a well-known verb, but
>whether it comes from "hail!" I wonder about. One could answer the question
>with a look at the OED, but my copy is at home.  Anyway, the concept is
>interesting, even if the English examples are not entirely correct.
>Cheers, jonathan
>Like Jonathan, I greatly sympathize with Dominique's valiant efforts to
>use English in his posts [remember that he is undergoing this ordeal for
>the sake of those members of the list who can't read French]. I haven't
>checked my OED, which happens to be just a few feet away, but I'm sure
>that "to hail" is a delocutive verb [derived, that is, from the utterance
>"hail!"].  This interesting morophological feature isn't very productive
>in English, but I can think of other examples. The verb 'to yes' cited by
>Dominique [by the way, he is merely following Benveniste here] isn't
>idiomatic, as Jonathan notes, but it *is* presupposed by the familiar term
>'yes-man' [i.e., 'one who goes about saying "yes"']. In the sentence "He
>helloed me over and over again, until I hung up the phone", the verb 'to
>hello' seems to me to be more or less acceptable.

Consider other examples: in French one can 'tutoyer' and 'vouvoyer' ['to
address as *tu* or *vous*'], and in German one can 'duzen' ['address as
*du*']. Etc.[lots more examples can be found in Benveniste].

Clearly, delocutive verbs are formed from discourse conventions, not from
the language's regular morphological system.

This is a fairly productive feature of Sanskrit, as it turns out, though I
don't recall that Benveniste cites any Skt examples. I have argued in JAOS
117.1 that the term ahaMkAra is a delocutive term meaning 'the utterance,
or cry, *aham*' [van Buitenen had essentially made the same observation a
long time ago]. Vedic ritual utterances like 'oMkAra, vaSaTkAra,
svAhAkAra', etc., are not derived in the same way as 'kumbhakAra'
['potter'] is. They are derived from discourse conventions: they are
therefore delocutives.

Consider also non-Vedic terms like 'asmitA' and 'asmimAna', both of which
mean something like 'egotism, self-conceit', but which seem clearly to
refer to the activity of saying "I am" a bit too much....

Renou was aware of the term 'de'locutif' and cited a few more examples
soemwhere, I think, in EVP. Debrunner also. Likewise Szemere'nyi. I don't
have access to the too-expensive volumes of Wackernagel-Debrunner, but I'd
be surprised if there is no discussion there.

Thank you, Dominique, for raising interesting issues,

George Thompson

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