Across the world, increased intercultural contact via business dealings has led to the spread not only of English and other linguæ francæ of business, but also of business cultures. In many industries and geopolitical zones, the two main competitors in the marketplace of ideas are Japanese-
The surprise comes in how far into a culture this mode of thinking can seep. In numerous instances, speakers of languages without a fully-
A unique and unusual term for an oddly common type of such constructions has been coined in one or more languages, though the etymology is dreadfully unclear, and has spread to all of the languages I’ve been studying: Palinilap Cimordromic, which means something like “blame-
The phenomenon is eerily similar in several seemingly unrelated languages, so all data will be given in English glosses. Also, following Slater 2006, all data actually was gathered in English, using instant messaging and skype.
The simplest example of this phenomenon is when the direct object of a verb is repeated as the subject of the verb, in order to elide the true actor:
In some of the languages under consideration here, this parallels the agentification of the object when there is no obvious actor:
Except that in the passive instance, there usually is an obvious actor, who wishes to become unobvious.
Since this is a very new syntactic phenomena in these languages, the paradigm has been expanded upon in rather idiosyncratic ways. Often, more complex objects can be fronted:
In some instantiations of this schema, the fronted constituent is inexplicably reversed:
With unaccountably increasing frequency, an entire verbal complement, not just the direct object, may be summarily fronted to obfuscate the underlying actor:
In what I have reluctantly come to analyze as an unusual, nay, unfathomable, form of center-
In certain extreme, even baffling, cases, the reversal extends all the way down to the lowest level of syntactic constituents:
When this perplexing and bewildering center-
Naturally, not all speakers (nor even most) can produce these kinds of impenetrable and incomprehensible utterances, and so vague subjects can be used instead:
Observation of several high-
I have been unable to find any commonality in the languages that have begun to exhibit this mystifying phenomenon, so I list them here, with genetic and geographic information, in hopes that another will be able to find the common link:
E (Tai-Kadai; China; 30,000 speakers)
Ere (Austronesian; Papua New Guinea; 1,030 speakers)
Erre (Australian; Australia; 1 speaker)
Malayalam (Dravidian; India; 35,000,000 speakers)
Mam (Mayan; Guatemala; 500,000 speakers)
Manam (Austronesian; Papua New Guinea; 7,000 speakers)
Mum (Trans-New Guinea; Papua New Guinea; 3,286 speakers)
Mutum (Trans-New Guinea; Papua New Guinea; 400 speakers)
Bailey, Edward P. 1997. The Plain English Approach to Business Writing.
De Roeck, Anne, Roderick Johnson, Margaret King, Michael Rosner, Geoffrey Sampson, and Nino Varile. 1982. “A Myth about Centre-
Farrell, H, BJ Farrell. 1998. “The Language of Business Codes of Ethics: Implications of Knowledge and Power.” Journal of Business Ethics.
Good, C. Edward. 2002. A Grammar Book for You and I—OOPS, Me!
Haspelmath, Martin. 2001. Language Typology and Language Universals: An International Handbook.
Kies, D. 1985. “Some stylistic features of business and technical writing: the functions of passive voice, nominalization, and agency.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication.
Lesikar, Raymond Vincent. 1989. Business Communication: Theory and Application.
Slater, Keith. 2007. “Evidential Complexity and Language Loss in Pinnacle Sherpa,” Speculative Grammarian Vol. CLI.