Apprehensional morphology

Author : Marine Vuillermet

Publication date : 2017

Bibliographical references :

Vuillermet, Marine. 2017. Questionnaire on apprehensional morphology. Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage, Lyon, ms.


The goal of this questionnaire is to help fieldworkers investigate the semantics of apprehensional morphology in their language of study

The 41 questions are organized into four sections: apprehensive, precautioning, timitive, and fear function. Each section further divides into subsections that question in turn the compatibility of different semantic classes with the apprehensional morphemes – e.g. the positively valenced lexemes that should still trigger a negatively valenced reading – , the influence of distinct grammatical persons, the possibility to negate the morpheme, etc. Given the very different nature of the four functions (e.g. scope over a situation vs. an entity), the subsections across sections diverge greatly.

Protocol summary

The questionnaire consists of sentences in English, to be translated into the language of study by the researcher. The aim of each ‘question’ is briefly discussed and then illustrated with examples. The researcher might first look for similar examples in her/his corpus, and if no example are found, s/he should adapt the questions to the speaker and/or the situation. Ideally, the researcher should suggest the form in the vernacular language, and ask the speaker to:

  • Give a context when the sentence could be uttered – contexts should be suggested if the speaker cannot find any;
  • Translate it back into the working language.

Ideally again, the sentences should be checked with different speakers.

Development context

This questionnaire has been developped during my postdoctoral studies (2016-2018) at the Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage in Lyon and is still work in progress. (You can contact me at marine.vuillermet[AT] if you wish to be informed about updates lest you miss them.)

                The apprehensional domain (Vuillermet 2018) covers the grammatical morphemes expressing fear, i.e. “a judgement of undesirable possibility” (cf. Verstraete’s (2005) definition of the apprehensive mood marker). Apprehensional morphology has been little described so far (see however Green 1989; Lichtenberk 1995; François 2003:300–311; Angelo & Schultze-Berndt 2016; Vuillermet 2018). An introduction briefly describes the four functions examined -- the apprehensive, the precautioning, the timitive, and the fear function.


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