LINGUIST List 4.864

Wed 20 Oct 1993

Disc: Null object

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Susann Luperfoy, 4.861 Come with
  2. Swann Philip, 4.861 Null object
  3. D Nelson, Re: 4.849 Null-Object
  4. "Henk Wolf", come with

Message 1: 4.861 Come with

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 08:46:26 4.861 Come with
From: Susann Luperfoy <>
Subject: 4.861 Come with

Swedish has the phrase "foelja med" which glosses as
"follow with" and means something like "come along with."

Susann LuperFoy
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Message 2: 4.861 Null object

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 14:01:49 4.861 Null object
From: Swann Philip <>
Subject: 4.861 Null object

Why is this thread called "Null object"? Do people really
analyse the Y in "X came with Y" as a direct object? I would
call "with Y" an adverbial phrase... Also what is so interesting
or special about this incipient phrasal verb "come with": there must be
half a dozen new ones like it coined a month in the English speaking
world, most of which don't survive (fortunately).

Philip Swann
University of Geneva
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Message 3: Re: 4.849 Null-Object

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 14:41:19 BSRe: 4.849 Null-Object
From: D Nelson <>
Subject: Re: 4.849 Null-Object

In my dialect (suburban Boston) I produce both "come with" and "go
with". I'm 25 years old and may well have picked these up fairly
recently. I have been keeping track of these expressions since I came
to Scotland, since both are apparently difficult to parse by speakers of
British English. I've found myself producing sentences like:

a) I think it would be great if you could come with

but also:

b) You need something to go with [e.g. that boiled potato]

Has anybody else noticed "go with" used in this context?

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Message 4: come with

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 03:32:06 CEcome with
From: "Henk Wolf" <>
Subject: come with

Maybe I may add something to the discussion on the 'come with'-construction.
0ystein Vangsnes proposes it is Scandinavian in origin. I think it is even
more widespread. Dutch too has something like this. As it happens not so
long ago I have been following a class on this matter. Many idiomatic verbal
expressions in Dutch, like 'watch for', 'get in', 'come with' are reanalyzed
as P+V compounds. In cases where the inflection is infinite, these
constructions remain like this, see (1).

 (1) Wij kunnen niet mee- komen
 We can not with come
 'We cannot come with'

Finite inflection makes the verb move to C, leaving the Preposition behind
in the Inflection.

 (2) Wij komen niet mee
 We come not with
 'We are not coming with'

Now the odd thing is that these reanalyzed constructions seem to be
well-anchored in the language as compounds. For example imperatives (3b) also
show the reanalyzed form, though now the order is the reverse. This is the
case not only with P+V compounds but also with many others, like A+V and

 (3a) Kom mee !
 Come with!
 (3b) Zij zeiden dat ze wilden zwanger worden.
 They said that they wanted pregnant become
 'They said they wanted to become pregnant'

A very important clue indicating that this reanalysis really happens is
found in Flemish Dutch, where X+V compounds can always be kept together. The
X-element moves with V to the inflection, which can only be if it's become
part of the V. (3b) demonstrates this.
In a few cases something extraordinary occurs. An example is when the
Preposition is 'met'. In these reanalyzed compounds it turns 'mee'. This
compound too splits up easily in finite sentences. It also easily takes a
prepositional object. So the compound has become idiomatized, like other
X+V clusters. I'll demonstrate this in (4).

 (4a) Kom je met me?
 Come you with me
 'Are you coming with me?'
 (4b) Kom je met me mee?
 Come you with me with
 (4c) Kom je mee met me?
 Come you with me with

(4b) and (4c) are contemporary Dutch constructions. (4a) is archaic. So what
I believe to be the case is that reanalysis has occured and lead to full
compounds in which the prepositional character has become unclear. Similar
things may be happening in other cases too. Something like (5) is not
correct Dutch yet, though it can be heard in informal speech.

 (5) Wil jij op hem op- passen?
 Want you for him for watch
 'Would you watch (for) him?'

So what I think is, in this English construction 'come with', a Dutch split
form of a reanalyzed compound, is derived from English data. As someone
wrote to Linguist before, German shows, though less formal, the same and so
does Afrikaans. Flemish Dutch leads in this process. Speakers of these
Germanic languages, including Scandinavian languages, seem to have a
strong feeling and in a way influenced American English using its lexikon.

 | \ / |
 | \____/"> Henk Wolf |
 | ()___/' |
 | || || (0)3417-59457 Nederland |
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