ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies
ISSN: 2306-5737E-ISSN: 2658-4069
Acta Linguistica Petropolitana
Transactions of the Institute for Linguistic Studies 

Causal marker mɔːk piː in modern Khmer

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Dmitrenko S. Yu. Pokazatel prichiny mɔːk piː v sovremennom kkhmerskom yazyke. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 2023. 19(1): 11–35.

Khmer disposes of a wide array of devices to express causal relations, ranging from simple juxtaposition of clauses to specialized grammatical causal markers like daoj saː, prʊəh, haet tae. This paper addresses only one causal marker, mɔːk piː, which seems to have emerged fairly recently based on the spatial ablative construction mɔːk piː ‘come from’. Its main functional and semantic properties put this marker closer to the canonical causal markers daoj saː or prʊəh. Just like these, mɔːk piː can occur either as a subordinating causal conjunction or as a preposition to introduce, respectively, clauses or noun phrases describing the cause for a given situation. Mɔːk piː also reveals specific traits: it is impossible in illocutionary contexts (of the type Be silent, because they can hear us) and, probably, in logical-semantic contexts (of the type He is my granddad, because he is my mother’s father).

In modern written speech, mɔːk piː often occurs with the verb bɒndaːl ‘cause smth.’, ‘provoke smth.’, ‘lead to smth.’ and thus actually functions as part of another composite causal marker, bɒndaːl mɔːk piː denoting inanimate cause viewed as a negative factor. Interestingly, the verb bɒndaːl also makes a part of the causative operator bɒndaːl Ɂaoj, which is fairly frequent in written speech.

Notably, a grammaticalization process along the same lines as in Khmer developed in the XX century in the geographically and typologically related Thai, where a ‘verb + preposition’ construction emerged on the basis of an ablative serial construction to later form a composite causal marker. This shows that the evolution of a special ablative construction into a causal marker is not unique even for the continental Southeast Asian languages. Formation of causal markers from locatives and special constructions reflects a trajectory of development that is fairly frequent across languages and is well attested in the typological literature.

Khmer language, causal construction, grammaticalization, conjunction, preposition, Thai language
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Khmer language, causal construction, grammaticalization, conjunction, preposition, Thai language
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