Université Paris Diderot, Paris
ʔaɔj as causative verb in Khmer
The link between some of the uses of ʔaɔj (‘give’) and the expression of causation are well established in the literature (Gorgoniev1966, Bisang 1992):
(1) peːl β̞iɜ mɔːk piː saːlaː β̞eɲ ʔaɔj β̞iɜ ɲam baːj mʊn tɘɨ!
time he come from school part. ʔaɔj he eat rice before go
“When he comes back from the school, feed him first thing!”
ʔaɔj can also serve to express a complex causative structure involving two events, as in:
(2) kɔm bɑŋkʰɑm ʔaɔj kʰɲɔm deːɲ β̞iɜ ceːɲ !
neg.mod. make ʔaɔj I lay off him go out
“Don’t make me lay him off!”
However, there are many cases where ʔaɔj is less obviously causative, as illustrated by the following examples taken from a long list:
(3) kʰɲɔm baɘk laːn ʔaɔj niɜjuɜ? juːneskoː
I drive vehicle ʔaɔj director Unesco
“I am a chauffeur for the Director-General of UNESCO!”
(4) baɜ β̞iɜ mɔːk jɨːt kɔm tʰaː ʔaɔj β̞iɜ
if he come late neg.mod. say ʔaɔj he
“If he comes in late, don’t reprimand him!”
It is far from easy to derive the different uses and semantic values of ʔaɔj from its lexical meaning of “give”. We propose to describe ʔaɔj as a «meta-predicate» whose function is to connect two events whereby the first subevent e1 (X V1 ) is interpreted as triggering the second subevent e2 (Y V2 Z), which we note as: X V1 => Y V2 Z.
Seen from this angle, the different uses of ʔaɔj are described as implementing different but constrained modes of realization of the arguments X, Y and Z as well as of V1 and V2. In most cases, only some of those elements are present in the clause.
Bisang Walter (1992). Das Verb im Chinesischem, Hmong, Vietnamesischen, Thai und Khmer. Tübingen : Gunter Narr Verlag.
Gorgonief Iouri (1966) Grammatika khmerskogo jazyka, Moskva.