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 

Verbs of falling in Tigrinya

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Bulakh M. S. Verbs of falling in Tigrinya. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana. 2020. XVI(1): 677–722.

The paper gives a survey of verbs of falling in Tigrinya (an Ethio-Semitic language spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia). The employment of each verb related to the situation of falling down is illustrated with phrasal examples. The Tigrinya data is further compared with Geez, a closely related extinct language. A special subsection deals with metaphorical use of the basic verb ‘to fall’ in Tigrinya.

Tigrinya possesses one basic verb of falling, wädäḳä, which is applied to describe the downward movement of a solid object through the air or a loss of vertical position of a vertically oriented object. Falling of a solid, heavy object, either through the air or, less typically, along an oblique surface, can also be referred to by a special verb ṣädäfä. In all situations deviating from this default situation of falling in Tigrinya, special verbs are employed. Thus, the verbs tägälbäṭä ‘to be overturned, to topple’ or tägämṭälä ‘to be turned over’ are used to describe the situation of toppling, overturning which does not involve physical falling from a higher level to a lower one. Detachment of an object which had been firmly fixed to another object, is usually denoted by the verb moläḳä ‘to slip off; to become detached’. Falling to pieces of buildings or other built structures is described by the special verbs färäsä ‘to collapse, crumble, to fall’ or ʕanäwä ‘to collapse’ (but ṣädäfä can also be used in such contexts).

Detachment of parts of body or plants due to natural reasons is denoted by the special verb rägäfä ‘to fall off (leaves), to break off, break loose (fruit, leaf), to shed a coat (livestock)’ (although the physical falling which is caused by such a detachment can well be described by the verb wädäḳä ‘to fall’). Furthermore, with respect to teeth, a special verb goräfä ‘to lose milk teeth, to have one’s tooth pulled out’ is used, with the possessor of the tooth encoded as the subject, and the tooth itself, as the object.

Downward movement of liquids is denoted by a wide range of verbs, such as wäḥazä ‘to flow’, näṭäbä ‘to fall in drops, to drop (water), to drip (water)’, fäsäsä ‘to be spilled, poured (out) (water, grain, etc.), to flow (liquid, stream), to run (water), to fall (water)’, ṣärär bälä ‘to ooze, exude’, läḥakʷä ‘to drip, run (water along a wall after leaking through a roof), lo leak, to seep, filter through (intransitive)’. The verb wärädä ‘to descend’ is also used to describe the movement of liquids from a higher level to the lower.

Spilling of granular material is denoted by fäsäsä ‘to be spilled, poured (out) (water, grain, etc.)’.

Rolling down is denoted by the verb ʔankoraräyä/ʔankoraräwä ‘to roll’.

Downward movement in water is described by the verb ṭäḥalä ‘to sink, to submerge’.

Intentional losing of vertical position is described by the verb bäṭṭ bälä ‘to lie down’, and intentional movement from a higher level to the lower is described by wärädä ‘to descend’.

The metaphors of falling include the employment of the verb wädäḳä to describe an abrupt, unexpected (and often unpleasant) change. This involves decrease in a measure, loss of interest, the destruction of a social power, arriving of a sudden calamity.

A separate group of metaphorical employment is the verb wädäḳä as the standard predicate of such nouns as “lottery” and “lot”, presumably by extension from the situation of dice falling to the ground. Finally, death in battle is also denoted by the verb wädäḳä.

The Geez cognate of wädäḳä likewise functions as the basic verb ‘to fall’, whose employment is very similar to, although not identical with, its Tigrinya equivalent. Similarly, Geez ṣadfa does not display any significant difference from Tigrinya ṣädäfä in its semantics and usage.

verbs of falling, Tigrinya language, Geez language, Semitic languages, Ethio-Semitic languages
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verbs of falling, Tigrinya language, Geez language, Semitic languages, Ethio-Semitic languages
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