ACROSS THE PENINSULA of mainland Southeast Asia, languages again and again display a complex grammatical pattern involving a word which we may label 'ACQUIRE'. Here are the features of the pattern, in schematic terms: a verb meaning 'come to have' (as in (1» is used as a postverbal modal element (as in (2», a marker introducing a postverbal adverbial phrase (as in (3», and a preverbal aspectual marker of 'attainment' (4):
(1) He ACQUIRE fish. 'He got fish.' (2) He fry fish ACQUIRE. 'He can fry the fish.'; 'He managed to fry the fish.' (3) He fry fish ACQuIREfast. 'He fried the fish fast.' (4) He ACQUIRE-fry fish. 'He did fry the fish.'; 'He got to fry the fish.'