Delocutive verbs can be defined as verbs derived from a base X which mean ‘by saying or uttering “X” (to someone) to perform an act which is culturally associated with the meaning or force of X’, where X is a variable ranging over types of things that can be said or uttered – 2nd person pronouns and other terms of address, words for asking and answering questions, formulaic expressions for social acts like greetings, various kinds of expressives, characterizations of speech peculiarities. Although originally identified as such in, and illustrated exclusively from, Indo-European languages by Debrunner (1956) and Benveniste (1958), delocutives are not confined to this family, but show a wide genetic and areal spread. The aim of this paper is to delineate the systematic possibilities for crosslinguistic diversity and for historical change in delocutive formations, and in particular to relate derivational delocutives to equivalent syntactic constructions. In such a wider typological and diachronic view, delocutives are seen not to be cases of ordinary quotation, nor a rare peculiarity at the margins of ordinary word formation, but to be one variation on the theme of complex predicates, instructively bearing on the general question of where verbs can come from. Their closest affinities, synchronic and diachronic, are to predications of existential causation (doing/making, often found to subsume saying).
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