LINGUIST List 14.697

Tue Mar 11 2003

Qs: German Unaccusative, Baltic Linguistics

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  1. Andrew McIntyre, unaccusative cognate object
  2. Peter �hl, Baltic Linguistics/ Latvian

Message 1: unaccusative cognate object

Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003 19:23:13 +0100
From: Andrew McIntyre <>
Subject: unaccusative cognate object

Dear linguists, The normal assumption (stated in Levin & Rappaport
Hovav 1995, 'Unaccusativity', MIT Press, and predicted by Burzio's
Generalisation) is that cognate objects don't occur with
unaccusatives. Many handmade examples indeed sound woeful:

1. *Egbert arrived a timely arrival.
 *The petrol tank exploded a death-dealing explosion.
 *The ghost appeared an occasional appearance.

But German exhibits at least two clear exceptions (easily attestable
by net search):

2. Er ist einen elenden Tod gestorben
he is a miserable death died
'he died a miserable death'

3. Es ist seinen Gang gegangen
it is its go gone
'it (Dan event) went its course'

Notes on the data: The HAVE-perfect is not good here; this contrasts
with most 'transitivisations' of unaccusative structures in the domain
of preposition incorporation, e.g. 'die Welt umsegeln'
('circumnavigate the world'; transitive, HAVE-perfect) vs. 'um die
Welt segeln' ('sail round the world'; BE-perfect). The cognate
objects receive accusative case. The delicacy of passive equivalents
of the structures does not necessarily speak against the status of the
NP's as genuine direct objects, since one may have doubts about the
information-structural legitimacy of the resulting sentences.

I am wondering if anything has been said on such cases in the
literature. Do such structures exist in other languages, but with
different grammar. (They exist in English, cf. the glosses in (2,3),
but there is no reliable evidence telling us whether the structures
are unaccusative.) I surmise that outside German, one will more often
than not find one of the following two things happening:

a. The cognate object will trigger a shift away from unaccusative

b. The object will receive some oblique case rather than accusative.
(This is arguably attested in German, depending on how you analyse
'sie ist ihres Weges gegangen' ('she went her way (genitive)').)

Finally, does any language allow cognate objects in causativised
counterparts of (2,3), i.e. something like:

4. They killed him an unpleasant death
 They took/brought/carried/moved its course.

Dr. Andrew McIntyre
Universitaet Leipzig

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Message 2: Baltic Linguistics/ Latvian

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 10:19:48 +0100
From: Peter �hl <>
Subject: Baltic Linguistics/ Latvian

Does anybody know whether there are researchers specialised in Baltic 
Languages, especially Latvian, in Germany or other Western European 


Peter Oehl.

Peter Oehl

Institut fuer Linguistik/Germanistik
Universitaet Stuttgart - Keplerstr. 17
D-70174 Stuttgart - Germany
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