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Intensification and deintensification in Modern Greek verbs

Angeliki Efthymiou

Abstracts

This paper aims at examining the morphological means of intensification and deintensification in Modern Greek deverbal verbs. First, it will be shown that in Modern Greek deverbal verbs the meaning of intensification (and deintensification) is almost always expressed by prepositional prefixes or prefixoids: e.g. para-cimáme ‘to oversleep’, iper-fortóno ‘to overload, scilo-varjéme ‘to be bored to death’ (scilo- ‘dog’+ varjéme ‘to be bored’), kutso-vlépo ‘to see poorly’ (kutso- ‘lame’+ vlépo ‘see’); see also Efthymiou (2017). Secondly, it will be demonstrated that in Modern Greek deverbal verbs the meaning of intensification is mostly expressed by prepositional prefixes, while the meaning of deintensification (attenuation) is almost always expressed by prefixoids. Thirdly, it will be shown that in Modern Greek, the system of intensifying and deintensifying morphemes has emerged via the processes of grammaticalisation (e.g. the prefixization of full lexical items like scilo- ‘dog’, kutso- ‘lame’, etc.) and refunctionalisation (e.g. the prepositional prefixes iper-, para-, which have developed evaluative meanings) or via borrowing (e.g. the MG colloquial intensive prefix kara- ‘very’, from the Turkish adjective kara ‘black’: kara-tsekáro ‘to check very thoroughly’). Finally, it will be suggested that a) the diversity of evaluative derivational processes (e.g. kutso-vlépo ‘to see poorly’, psilo-vlépo ‘to see a bit’) is largely determined by linguistic factors (e.g. selectional constraints, differences in meaning, etc.) and that b) each evaluative morpheme under investigation is rather potentiating within a certain domain (e.g. the learned prefix iper- expresses quantitative evaluation, the colloquial prefix kara- has an emotive/pragmatic meaning, etc.).

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I would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments and suggestions that greatly contributed to improving the paper.

Introduction

1Evaluative (i.e. intensifying and deintensifying) morphemes attached to verbs are quite frequent in Modern Greek. As is cross-linguistically common, they not only indicate deviation from the default value denoted by the base, but can also express a range of meanings such as the negative or positive attitude of the speaker, mitigation, emotional involvement, pluractionality, etc. (see among others Dressler & Merlini Barbaresi [1994], Grandi [2005] and [2009], Fradin & Montermini [2009], Stekauer, Valera & Körtvelyessy [2012], Katunar [2013], Amiot & Stosic [2014], Weidhass & Schmid [2015]; for discussion of the notion of intensification, see also Bordet & Jamet [2015]). The basic characteristics of these evaluative elements include, among others, the following: Firstly, they change the semantics of the base by expressing some deviation from the norm or standard denoted by the base. Secondly, they can often function as free variants, hence it is possible to find examples where these morphemes seem interchangeable: e.g. kutso-vlépo ‘to see poorly’, psilo-vlépo ‘to see a bit’ miso-vlépo ‘to see but not well’. Thirdly, it is not easy to distinguish their quantitative/measurative dimension from the qualitative/appreciative one or to give explicit descriptive paraphrases of them that fully capture their semantic content.

2In this paper, we aim to provide a detailed, data-based discussion of the morphological means of evaluation (intensification and deintensification) in Modern Greek deverbal verbs and show that Modern Greek is fairly rich in this domain. This paper is divided into three sections. The first section offers a detailed description of evaluative (intensifying and deintensifying) morphemes attached to verbs in Modern Greek. In the first section we discuss the characteristics of these morphological means and show that Modern Greek evaluative morphemes attached to verbs form a well-structured degree system whose distribution is largely determined by linguistic factors. Finally, the second section summarizes the findings of the study.

1. Modern Greek intensifying and deintensifying morphemes attached to verbs

  • 1 Given that electronic corpora of Modern Greek are still relatively small, contain a low percentage (...)
  • 2 The list of evaluative morphological items presented here can be considered quasi-exhaustive (see a (...)

3Modern Greek has quite a large number of intensifying and deintensifying (attenuating) morphemes (affixes and affixoids) at its disposal1. These are listed, along with examples in tables 1 and 2 (see also Efthymiou [2017], forthcoming)2:

Table 1: The morphological means of attenuation (deintensification) in Modern Greek deverbal verbs

affix/affixoid

derivative

base

ipo-

‘under’

ipo-xrimatoδoto

‘to fund inadequately’

xrimatoδoto

‘to fund, finance’

miso-

‘half’

miso-θimáme

‘to remember but not very well’

θimáme

‘to remember’

psilo-

‘slim’

psilo-θimóno

‘to get a bit angry’

θimóno

‘to get angry’

kutso-

‘lame, gimpy’

kutso-vlépo

‘to see poorly’

vlépo

‘to see’

psefto-

‘false’

psefto-δjavázo

to study half-heartedly’

δjavázo

‘to study/read’

xazo-

‘stupid’

xazo-δulévo

to work half-heartedly’

δulévo

‘to work’

poli-

‘much’ (with negation)

δen poli-katalavéno

‘lit. not+ much +understand, I do not understand well’

katalavéno

‘to understand’

kalo-

‘well’ (with negation)

δen kalo-kséro

‘lit. not+ well +know, I do not know that much’

kséro

‘to know’

Table 2: The morphological means of intensification in Modern Greek deverbal verbs

affix/affixoid

derivative

base

iper-

‘over’

iper-fortóno

‘to overload’

fortóno

‘to load

para-

‘close to, excessive’

para-cimáme

‘to oversleep’

cimáme

‘to sleep’

kata-

‘down(wards), towards’

kata-spataló

‘to waste completely’

spataló

‘to waste’

kara-

(<Turkish kara ‘black’)

kara-zilévo

‘to be extremely jealous’

zilévo

‘to be jealous’

apo-

‘away from, reversative’

apo-kseréno

‘to make completely dry’

kseréno

‘to dry’

kse-

‘out of, reversative’

kse-treléno

‘to make someone very mad’

treléno

‘to make someone mad’

scilo-

‘dog’

scilo-varjéme

‘lit. dog+ be bored, to be bored to death’

varjéme

‘to be bored’

xilio-

‘thousand’

xilio-exfaristó

‘lit. thousand+ thank, to be deeply grateful’

exfaristó

‘to thank’

mirjo-

‘ten thousand’

mirjo-efxaristó

‘lit. ten thousand+ thank, to be deeply grateful’

exfaristó

‘to thank’

-voló

(<AG βάλλω ‘throw’)

kserno-voló

‘to throw up repeatedly’

ksernáo

‘to throw up’

-kopó

(<AG κόπτω ‘cut’)

vromο-kopó

‘to stink intensively’

vromáo

‘to stink’

-manó

(<AG μαίνομαι ‘be mad’)

fiso-manó

‘to blow intensively’

fisáo

‘to blow’

4As illustrated in tables 1 and 2, what all these morphemes have in common is that they express a deviation from an assumed norm. In the following sections I focus on these two different facets of evaluation: deintensification (attenuation) and intensification. As will be shown, some of the evaluative (intensifying or deintensifying) elements under investigation can combine with bases belonging to a wide variety of grammatical categories (e.g. psilo-, miso-, iper-, ipo-) or registers (e.g. miso-, para-), while others select (or require) bases which belong to a specific grammatical category (e.g. scilo-, para-) or register (e.g. scilo-, iper-, ipo-) or require bases with specific semantic properties (e.g. kata-, scilo-, poli-). Furthermore, it will be shown that some of the elements under investigation also have a range of meanings beyond intensification or deintensification, covering mitigation, emotional involvement or other non-evaluative meanings (see e.g. the prepositional prefixes iper-, ipo-, para- and kata- or the affixoids scilo-, psilo- and -volo).

1.1. Deintensifying prefixes and prefixoids

  • 3 Ipo- is not exclusively deintensifying, but expresses both locational and quantitative meanings (e. (...)
  • 4 Following Anastassiadis-Symeonidis & Fliatouras [2003], the feature [+learned] is attributed to wor (...)

5As can be seen in table 1, the only deintensifying prefix is ipo- ‘under’, i.e. a prepositional prefix, which has developed evaluative meanings through grammaticalisation and refunctionalisation3. This prefix is usually used in neological loan translations, especially in scientific and technical domains, and creates words belonging to a large variety of grammatical categories (see examples 1a-d). It typically combines with [+learned] or [+/- learned] bases4. Its semantic contribution is to express the meaning of insufficiency (i.e. ‘under the standard or the threshold denoted by the base’) without any emotional overtones.

(1) a. ipo-ektimó ‘to underestimate’

b. ipo-vitamínosi ‘hypovitaminosis’

c. ipo-apasxólisi ‘underemployment’

d. ipo-sitizménos ‘undernourished’

  • 5 The status of these morphemes as affixoids (i.e. elements that are in process of being grammaticali (...)
  • 6 Examples of words constructed with the above mentioned prefixoids without attenuating meaning are n (...)

6Psilo- ‘slim’, miso- ‘half’, kutso- ‘lame, gimpy’, psefto- ‘false’, xazo- ‘stupid’, poli- ‘many, much’ kalo- ‘good, well’ are prefixoids (or prefix like elements), i.e. elements, which have developed a new more general and abstract meaning through grammaticalization5. As illustrated in table 1, all these elements, in their bound use, do not behave like parts of compounds (with full lexical meaning), but function as prefixes expressing a more subjective (or evaluative) meaning6. It is also interesting to note that some of the prefixoids under investigation come from lexical items with a qualifying (and usually negative) meaning (e.g. kutsós ‘lame, gimpy’, xazós ‘stupid’).

7We will begin with psilo-, which is highly productive in Modern Greek. This element creates words belonging to a large variety of grammatical categories (see examples 2a-d), but cannot combine with [+learned] bases. It is also worthy to note that psilo- typically occurs in informal or spoken speech (cf. Savvidou’s 2012 corpus study). As far as morphosemantics is concerned, psilo- indicates the lower, reduced intensity of the process/activity in question (example 3a), approximation (example 3b) or has a pragmatic meaning of mitigation (example 3c) (see Giannoulopoulou [2003], Xydopoulos [2009], Savvidou [2012]). According to Savvidou [2012], the most frequent semantic pattern of psilo- is the meaning of mitigation of the force of the utterance.

(2) a. psilo-katalavéno ‘to understand something a bit’

b. psilo-xáos ‘a bit of chaos’

c. psilo-ilíθios ‘a bit idiot’

d. psilo-makriá ‘a bit far away’

(3) a. psilo-δagóno ‘to bite slightly’

b. psilo-kócinos ‘reddish’

c. psilo-píno ‘I don’t want to tell you that I drink (a lot) but I do so’

8Like ipo- and psilo-, miso- is also used with adjectival, verbal and participial bases, but it is not found on nominal bases (see example 4a-c). It seems safe to say that miso- is not stylistically restricted. As concerns its semantic contribution in the verbal domain, miso- occurs productively on a wide array of base types and indicates the lower/reduced intensity of the event or the property denoted by the base:

(4) a. miso-pálavos ‘half-mad’

b. miso-katalavéno ‘to understand something in general terms, but not in detail’

c. miso-cimizménos ‘half-asleep’

9Kutso- is typically used in informal or spoken (colloquial) speech. It is more commonly attached to verbal bases, even if it is also found with nominal bases (see examples 5a-d; cf. also Dimela & Melissaropoulou [2009]. Its semantic contribution is to express a qualitative evaluation (i.e. reduced quality) of the event or the entity denoted by the base (see also Babiniotis [1969]). In particular, in the verbal domain, kutso- occurs frequently on verbs denoting activity and emphasizes the lower quality of the action (along dimensions such as amount of result or frequency).

(5) a. kutso-vlépo ‘to see poorly’

b. kutso-zó ‘to live, but not quite well’

c. kutso-tróo ‘to eat slowly, from time to time’

d. kutso-ksenoδoxío ‘not quite a good hotel’

10Psefto- and xazo- also occur productively in informal speech. Psefto- attaches to verbal and nominal bases and creates derivatives which express depreciation (see example 6a-c). In particular, in the verbal domain, psefto- occurs frequently on verbs denoting activity. As concerns its semantic contribution, psefto- indicates that the process in question is performed with less effort than expected. In addition to expressing the speaker’s attitude to the event in question, verbal formations with psefto- can also express event internal pluractionality (for discussion on the relationship between pluractionality and diminutive verbal morphology, see among others Tovena [2011], Amiot and Stosic [2014]; see also example 5c). Xazo- as well expresses qualitative evaluation and pluractionality (see example 7a-b). Like verbs with psefto- and kutso-, deverbal verbs with xazo- emphasize the lower quality of the action in question (along dimensions such as amount of result or frequency or effort) and indicate a downgraded formality of the interaction. Interestingly enough, xazo- is not documented in standard dictionaries (cf. also footnote 1).

(6) a. psefto-δjavázo ‘to study half-heartedly, from time to time’

b. psefto-kaθarízo ‘to clean something, but not very thoroughly’

c. psefto-δimokratía ‘pseudo-democracy’

(7) a. xazo-δulévoto work half-heartedly, from time to time’

b. xazo-δjavázo ‘to study half-heartedly’

11Moving now to poli-, we see that this element expresses the meaning of attenuation only with negation (Delveroudi & Vassilaki [1999]; see examples 8a-b):

(8) a. δen poli-rotáo ‘I hardly ask’

b. δen poli-katalavéno ‘I barely understand’

12Verbs created with poli- are frequently used in informal speech and express lower frequency or intensity of the event in question or minimize the impact of a statement. As Delveroudi & Vassilaki [1994: 150] aptly put it, a construction involving the combination of negation and prefixation with poli- expresses the meaning ‘not much, not exactly, not particularly, hardly’. Thus, by a statement like δen poli-δjavaz-i ‘NEG much-study-3SG’, the speaker means ‘I cannot say that s/he really studies’. The same behavior is attested with the moderately productive element kalo- (see Babiniotis [1969]). Like poli-, kalo- appears only in negative statements (see examples 9a-b):

(9) a. δen kalo-kséro ‘I hardly know’

b. δen kalo-θimáme ‘I hardly remember’.

13Its semantic contribution is to indicate the lower/reduced intensity of the event in question.

1.2. Intensifying prefixes and affixoids

  • 7 Examples of words constructed with the prefixes iper-, para-, kata-, kara-, apo- and kse-without in (...)

14As can be seen in Table 2, half of the intensifying elements used to form verbs in Modern Greek are prefixes (iper-, para-, kata-, kara-, apo-, kse-). Most of them exhibit extensive polysemy and derive words of more than one grammatical categories (see examples 10a-e) (Efthymiou [2002, 2003], Efthymiou, Fragaki & Markos [2015a, b])7.

(10) a. iper-katiγoría ‘supercategory’

b. para-krátos ‘parastate’

c. katá-mavros ‘coal black’

d. apo-prosanatolízo ‘to disorientate’

e. kse-δéno ‘to untie’

15Intensifying prefixes can be grouped according to their etymology:

those that derive from Ancient Greek prepositions (iper-, para-, kata-, apo-),

those that are of non-native origin (kara-, which originates from the Turkish adjective kara ‘black’), and

  • 8 According to Mendez-Dosuna [1997], the verbal augment e- was often misanalyzed as part of the prefi (...)

those that are formations of Medieval Greek (kse-, which developed from the combination of the Ancient Greek preverb ek- with the verbal syllabic augment e-)8.

16Iper- occurs productively on telic verbs with incremental theme (see examples 10a-b.), even if it is also found with atelic verbs, which express situations with no natural endpoint (examples 11a-d).

(11) a. iper-fortóno ‘to overload’,

b. iper-θerméno ‘to overheat’

c. iper-aγapó ‘to love very much’

d. iper-evδocimó ‘to grow very well, to be very successful’

17Its semantic contribution is to denote the notion of excess (i.e. ‘more than normal or desirable’) or the meaning of high degree (i.e. ‘very, extremely x’), without any emotional overtones (Efthymiou [2003], Gavriilidou [2014], Efthymiou, Fragaki & Markos [2015a]). The prefix occurs on [+learned] or [+/-learned] bases.

18On the other hand, para- attaches to a wide array of verb types (examples 12a-e), but cannot combine with [+ learned] bases (see example 12) (Efthymiou [2003, 2016], Gavriilidou [2014], Efthymiou, Fragaki & Markos [2015b]).

(12) a. para-káno ‘to overdo, to do something too much’

b. para-xrisimopió ‘overuse’

c. para-jemízo ‘to overfill’

d. para-miló ‘to talk too much’

e. para-éxo ‘to have something to excess’

(13) *para-mejeθíno vs. iper- mejeθíno ‘to enlarge to excess’

19As concerns its semantic contribution, para- is extremely productive in the meaning of excess. Many of the deverbal derivatives with para- also express periphrastic reinforcement, upgrading the determinacy of the propositional content of the verb (see example 13) (Efthymiou, Fragaki & Markos [2015b]).

(14) íksere ce para-íksere ‘he/she knew and he/she knew very well’

20Moving now to the moderately productive prefix kata-, we see that it usually combines with negatively connotated verbal bases and/or atelic verbs and derives words with negative connotations (see examples 14a-d):

(15) a. kata-spataló ‘to squander completely’

b. kata-trómaksa ‘I was scared to death’

c. kata-stenaxorjéme ‘get extremely sad’

d. kata-kurázo ‘to tire completely

21As far as morphosemantics is concerned, kata- denotes the meaning of ‘absolute completeness’ (Delveroudi & Vassilaki [1994], Efthymiou [2003, 2017], Gavriilidou [2014], Kallergi [2015]).

22The prefixes apo- and kse- are barely productive in the semantic domain of intensification. According to the data of this study, neologisms with apo- are rarely attested. Furthermore, our data show that there are no attested neologisms with kse-. Apo- usually attaches to telic verbs with incremental theme, and creates verbs that denote completion of the event. Furthermore, the verbs which serve as bases for the intensifying apo- have very often negative connotations (see example 15a-c):

(16) a. apo-kseréno ‘to make completely dry’

b. apo-tiflóno ‘to make someone completely blind’

c. apo-treléno ‘to make someone completely mad’

23On the other hand, the intensifying prefix kse- is typically attached to negatively connotated bases in order to create verbs with the meaning ‘very, extremely x’ (Efthymiou [2002, 2003], Kallergi [2015]):

(17) a. kse-treléno ‘to make someone very mad’

b. kse-puló ‘to sell out, to bargain away’

  • 9 The use of kara- as an intensifying prefix probably started from the borrowing of Turkish words whe (...)

24The moderately productive prefix kara- is used in highly informal register and derives [-learned] words with negative connotations9. As concerns its semantic contribution in the verbal domain, the prefix is exclusively intensifying, expressing both quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Kara- typically combines with verbs denoting emotion, and expresses a very high degree of intensification (i.e. the meaning very, extremely x’) (Minas [1978], Fotiou [1998]). It also indicates at the same time the negative attitude or the emotional involvement of the speaker or expresses overstatement (Efthymiou [2017], forthcoming):

(18) a. kara-drépome ‘to be extremely ashamed’

b. kara-γustáro ‘to fancy extremely, enjoy extremely’

c. kara-simbaθó ‘to get to like someone extremely’

25Moving now to the domain of affixoids (see table 2), we observe that three of them are prefixoids: scilo- ‘dog’, xilio- ‘thousand’ and mirjo- ‘ten thousand’.

26The moderately productive prefixoid scilo- is stylistically restricted and derives negatively connotated or insulting words. It is used in informal register and cannot combine with [learned] bases. It is more commonly attached to negatively connotated verbal bases that denote emotion. Verbs created with scilo- express a very high degree of intensification (Fotiou 1998) and also indicate the negative attitude or the emotional involvement of the speaker or express overstatement (Efthymiou [2017], forthcoming):

(19) a scilo-varjéme ‘to be bored to death’

b. scilo-pináo ‘to be damn hungry’

c. scilo-vrízo ‘to offend deeply’

27Like kara-, deverbal scilo- is exclusively intensifying.

28Xiliο- and mirjo- are not productive. According to the data of this study, there are no attested neologisms with xiliο- or mirjo. The semantic contribution of these elements is to express pluractionality (i.e. multiple repetition of an action) or overstatement (for discussion on the relationship between evaluation and pluractionality, see among others Tovena [2011], Napoli [2013], Amiot and Stosic [2014]):

(20) a. xiliο-efxaristó ‘to thank a million, to be deeply grateful’

b. xilio-bálosa ‘I patched something many times’

c. mirjο-parakaló ‘to beg’

29Turning now to the suffixoids -voló, -kopó and -manó, we see that all these intensifying elements are etymologically related to Ancient Greek verbs (i.e. βάλλω ‘throw’, κόπτω ‘cut’, μαίνομαι ‘be mad’ respectively). Like xiliο- and mirjo-, the suffixoids -voló, -kopó and -manó are not productive in contemporary Greek. As concerns their semantic contribution, these suffix-like elements express the meaning of high degree (i.e. ‘very, extremely x’):

(21) a. kserno-voló ‘to throw up repeatedly’

b. vromο-kopó ‘to stink intensively’

c. fiso-manó ‘to blow intensively’

30Moreover, -voló and –kopó denote iterativity (i.e. a continuously repeated action) and also indicate the negative or positive attitude of the speaker or express exaggeration (Efthymiou [2017], forthcoming).

2. The expression of evaluation in Modern Greek deverbal verbs

31The analysis conducted so far has revealed that in Modern Greek evaluative verbs the meaning of deintensification is almost always expressed by prefixoids (e.g. psilo-, kutso-), while the meaning of intensification is mostly expressed by prepositional prefixes (e.g. iper-, para-). Moreover, the discussion of the properties of the morphemes studied here has shown that Modern Greek evaluative morphemes attached to verbs are not identical in productivity (see e.g. the difference in productivity between para- and kse-). The distribution of intensifying and deintensifying prefixes according to their position with regard to the base is presented in table 3. Unproductive morphological means of intensification or deintensification are noted here by one star (see also discussion in previous section).

Table 3: The morphological means of evaluation (intensification and deintensification) in Modern Greek deverbal verbs

Intensification and deintensification in Modern Greek Verbs

intensification

(12 morphemes)

deintensification

(8 morphemes)

Prefixes

Prefixes

iper-

ipo-

para-

-

kata-

-

kara-

-

apo- *

-

kse-*

-

Prefixoids

Prefixoids

scilo-

miso-

xilio-*

psilo-

mirjo-*

kutso-

-

psefto-

-

xazo-

-

poli-(with negation)

-

kalo-(with negation)

Suffixoids

Suffixoids

-voló*

-

-kopó*

-

-manó*

-

32Furthermore, as shown in the detailed discussion of section 1 and illustrated in table 3, there are not more deintensifying than intensifying elements. This finding agrees with Dressler & Merlini Barbaresi’s assumption that intensifiers are more frequent than deintensifiers, but contradicts the well-known generalization that augmentatives represent a marked category opposed to the unmarked category of diminutives (see among others Dressler & Merlini Barbaresi [1994], Grandi [2005], Stekauer, Valera & Körtvelyessy [2012]).

33Moreover, the examination of the origin of the elements under investigation has shown that in Modern Greek, the system of intensifying and deintensifying morphemes has emerged via the following types of processes (for a discussion on morphological change in evaluative morphological processes, see among others Mutz [2015]):

grammaticalisation: e.g. the prefixization of full lexical items like scilo- ‘dog’, kutso- ‘lame’, etc.

grammaticalization and refunctionalisation (i.e. the “recruitment” of affixes from other derivational domains): e.g. the prepositional prefixes iper-, para-, etc. which have developed evaluative meanings

borrowing: e.g. the Modern Greek colloquial intensifying prefix kara- ‘very’, from the Turkish adjective kara ‘black’

obligatory combination of negation and prefixation: e.g. the combination of negation with poli-

change in productivity: e.g. the increasing productivity of psilo-, para-, etc.

34This observation concurs with the well-known assumptions that existing evaluative categories tend to be renewed in the course of time and that the renewal is typically achieved via grammaticalisation and/or refunctionalisation or via borrowing (see e.g. Grandi [2011], Mutz [2015]). The renovation is necessary because of the “bleaching-out” of the evaluative meaning in existing derivations, as a result of extensive use (see among others Mutz [2015: 152], Rainer [2015: 1348]).

35It is also interesting to note that the development of affixes out of free morphemes seems to enrich more easily the set of prefixes than the suffixal system of Modern Greek (for similar remarks for French, see Corbin [1999: 69-70]).

36Furthermore, the investigation of the properties of the studied morphemes has revealed that Modern Greek evaluative morphemes show a wide variety of meanings such as quantitative or qualitative evaluation, pluractionality, mitigation of the force of the utterance, overstatement, emotional involvement, etc. More specifically, with respect to their semantic contribution in derived verbs, Modern Greek evaluative morphemes can be distinguished into three types (see also Efthymiou forthcoming):

those that are typically associated with quantitative evaluation (e.g. ipo-, iper-, miso-, -manó),

those that typically combine both quantitative and qualitative meanings, indicating the negative or positive attitude of the speaker or (e.g. kutso-, psefto-, kata-), and

those that are typically associated with an emotive or pragmatic meaning (e.g. psilo-, kara-, scilo-).

  • 10 For discussion on the semantic prosody of evaluative morphemes in Greek, see also Savvidou [2012]

37It is also notable that several of the evaluative morphemes under investigation (e.g. kata-, scilo-, kutso-, kse-) seem to have a negative semantic prosody (see among others Partington [1988]), being surrounded by negative lexis (i.e. words with negative attitudinal meanings) or attaching to negatively connotated bases (cf. Efthymiou forthcoming): e.g. Tus sciló-vrise ce tus kata-prósvale ‘s/he swore at them very badly and greatly insulted them’ (example taken from Kallergi [2015: 322])10.

  • 11 For similar remarks on the semantic behavior of kutso- and miso- see Dimela and Melissaropoulou [20 (...)

38Moving to the domain of deintensifying morphemes, we observe that it is not difficult to find examples where these morphemes seem interchangeable (see also section1), with very little difference in meaning11:

(22) a. psefto-γráfo ‘to write in a leisurely, way from time to time’

b. kutso-γráfo ‘to write slowly, poorly’

c. psilo-γráfo ‘to write a bit’

d. δen poli- γráfo ‘I hardly write’

39However, a more detailed investigation of the semantic properties of these deintensifying morphemes reveals that these morphemes are not identical in semantic nuance: kutso-and psefto- are typically associated with qualitative interpretations, emphasizing the lower quality of the action, psilo- is typically associated with the pragmatic meaning of mitigation, and poli- (with negation) is typically associated with the expression of a minimal degree (i.e. ‘not exactly, not particularly, hardly’). Moreover, a comparison of psefto- and kutso- reveals that kutso- lacks the semantic feature ‘with less effort than expected’ that psefto- typically caries. Similar remarks can be made for Modern Greek intensifying morphemes. For example, kata- and kara- share the meaning of intensification and derive words with negative connotations:

(23) a. kata-stenaxorjéme ‘get extremely sad’

b. kara-stenaxorjéme ‘get extremely sad’

40However, kata- lacks the [highly informal] feature that kara- generally carries (for detailed discussion on Modern Greek intensifying morphemes, see section 1.2.; see also Efthymiou [2003, 2017], forthcoming and Gavriilidou [2014]).

41Turning now to the register properties of Modern Greek evaluative morphemes, we can identify three main sets:

42morphemes that typically occur in informal or spoken speech: see e.g. the affixoids psilo-, kutso-, scilo-, psefto- and xazo- or the prefix kara-,

43morphemes which typically occur in refined or written speech: see e.g. the prepositional prefixes ipo- and iper-, and

44morphemes which are not stylistically restricted: see e.g. the prefixoid miso- or the prefixes kata-, apo- and kse-.

45This categorization shows that the vast majority of affixoids (e.g. psilo-, kutso-, scilo-, psefto-, xazo-) typically have a colloquial usage, while prepositional prefixes may be either stylistically unrestricted (e.g. kata-, apo-) or they may have a scientific usage (e.g. ipo-, iper-) (for discussion on the register factors or speech situations which favor the use of evaluative morphemes, see among others Dressler and Merlini Barbaresi [1994], Gaeta [2015]).

Concluding remarks

46To sum up, in the domain of verbs, Modern Greek evaluative morphemes form a structured set of intensifiers and deintensifiers with a primary function of denoting degrees of intensity. Most of these morphemes also have a range of meanings beyond intensification or deintensification, covering the negative or positive attitude of the speaker, mitigation, emotional involvement or other non-evaluative meanings. It is also shown that the variation we find in evaluative derivational processes is largely determined by linguistic factors (e.g. selectional constraints, differences in meaning or register) and that each evaluative morpheme is rather potentiating within a certain domain.

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Notes

1 Given that electronic corpora of Modern Greek are still relatively small, contain a low percentage of spoken data and are not annotated for morphological purposes, I take as a starting point the analysis of 40 para- and 54 iper- verbs in Efthymiou, Fragaki and Markos’s corpus studies [2015a, b] and a list of 160 deverbal evaluative verbs extracted from two Modern Greek dictionaries (Triandafyllidis [1998]; Babiniotis [2002] and electronic sources (Google)). The data of Efthymiou et al [2015 a, b] comes from the Corpus of Greek Texts (CGT), a reference corpus of Modern Greek (for a detailed description of CGT, see Goutsos [2010]). Needless to say, the spontaneous attested verbal formations are certainly much more numerous (and/or varied) than what is found (i.e. documented) in dictionaries and Google (cf. Dressler & Merlini Barbaresi [1994] and Grandi [2009] on the vitality of evaluative morphology).

2 The list of evaluative morphological items presented here can be considered quasi-exhaustive (see also footnote 1).

3 Ipo- is not exclusively deintensifying, but expresses both locational and quantitative meanings (e.g. ipo-γlicemía ‘hypoglycemia’, ipo-θálamos ‘hypothalamus’).

4 Following Anastassiadis-Symeonidis & Fliatouras [2003], the feature [+learned] is attributed to words that either a) come from Ancient Greek, b) constitute artificial formations of ‘katharevousa’ (i.e. the artificial, ancient-looking form of Greek developed by scholars in the 19th century) or c) are only used in refined or written speech (cf. also Ralli [2004]). Words characterized as [-learned] either have a popular origin or are used in informal or spoken (colloquial) speech. Finally, the feature [+/- learned] is ascribed to words that have an unmarked use or origin (i.e. they are neither learned nor non-learned).

5 The status of these morphemes as affixoids (i.e. elements that are in process of being grammaticalized, gradually losing their lexical status and behaving more or less like affixes) is not uniform and entails a thorough investigation of each morpheme (for discussion, see among others, Dimela & Melissaropoulou [2009]). However, discussing the morphological status of these morphemes in detail goes beyond the scope of the present paper.

6 Examples of words constructed with the above mentioned prefixoids without attenuating meaning are not taken into consideration in the present study.

7 Examples of words constructed with the prefixes iper-, para-, kata-, kara-, apo- and kse-without intensifying meaning or belonging to other grammatical categories are not taken into consideration in the present study (see e.g. iper-katáskopos ‘super spy’, iper-oceánios ‘transoceanic’, para-θalásios ‘littoral’, par-erminévo ‘to misinterpret’ kat-eδafízo ‘to demolish’, katá-mavros ‘coal black’).

8 According to Mendez-Dosuna [1997], the verbal augment e- was often misanalyzed as part of the prefix in Medieval Greek.

9 The use of kara- as an intensifying prefix probably started from the borrowing of Turkish words where kara was a component with an intensifying function, e.g., Τurkish sevda ‘love, passion’ → kara-sevda-lı ‘deeply in love (adjective) > Modern Greek karasevda-lis ‘id.’ (Manolessou and Ralli [2015]).

10 For discussion on the semantic prosody of evaluative morphemes in Greek, see also Savvidou [2012]

11 For similar remarks on the semantic behavior of kutso- and miso- see Dimela and Melissaropoulou [2009].

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References

Electronic reference

Angeliki Efthymiou, « Intensification and deintensification in Modern Greek verbs », Lexis [Online], 10 | 2017, Online since 30 September 2017, connection on 16 October 2017. URL : http://lexis.revues.org/1089 ; DOI : 10.4000/lexis.1089

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About the author

Angeliki Efthymiou

Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
aefthym@eled.duth.gr

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