LINGUIST List 9.1757

Thu Dec 10 1998

Sum: Cognate Objects

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Piroska Csuri, Re: Cognate Object summary

Message 1: Re: Cognate Object summary

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 11:46:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Piroska Csuri <>
Subject: Re: Cognate Object summary

The original query from 
	LINGUIST 9.1611: Sat Nov 14 1998. 

I am posting this query on behalf of Christiane Fellbaum, Dave
Lebeaux, and myself.

Dear Everyone,

We would like to find out what work has been done on the so-called
cognate object construction, such as:

	She slept a restful sleep.
	He laughed a hysterical laugh.
	They danced a slow, romantic dance.
Our understanding is that this construction is widespread among
langauges, as they have been observed in Chichewa, Hebrew, Arabic,
Russian, English, Icelandic, German, etc, with somewhat different
morphological/grammatical properties and varying productivity.

We are wondering what papers and/or unpublished manuscripts are
available on this topic regarding

	-straight description;
	-morphological, syntactic and semantic properties of the
	 construction; or
	-the relation of the cognate object construction to the
	 availability/analysis of other constructions/morphological

We would like to cast this net wide, so we would be interested in
information about any language, and any relevant information.

Please respond to Piroska Csuri at:

If there is interest, I will post a summary with the information

Thanks for any help,

Piroska Csuri
4 Independence Way
NEC Research Institute
Princeton, NJ 08540
Fax: (609)951-2482
Thanks to the following people for responding to the query with relevant information: 

Denis Akhapkine
Elena Bashir
Deborah Milam Berkley <>
Edit Doron
Tom Ernst
Fritz Heberlein
Mike Jones <>
Meri E Larjavaara
Peter Lasersohn
Talke Macfarland
Jouni Maho
Sam Martin
Anita Mittwoch
David Nash
Mari Broman Olsen <>
Asya Pereltsvaig <>
Ana Teresa Perez-Leroux 
Hoa Pham
Marc Picard
Jo Tyler
Ton van der Wouden <>

References provided: 

Alsina, A., J. Bresnan & P. Sells (1997), eds. COMPLEX PREDICATES, Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications. Several articles, among others Hale & Keyser, Kiparsky, and Williams.

Austin, Peter. 1982. Transitivity and Cognate Objects in Australian
languages, pp.37-47 in _Studies in Transitivity_, ed. by Paul J. Hopper
and Sandra A. Thompson. (Syntax and Semantics. Volume 15). New York:
Academic Press.

Evgen'jeva A.P. Ocherki po yaziky russkoj ustnoj poezii v zapis'akh XVII-XX
veka. - Moscow; Leningrad, 1963. (see p.101-247) /Russian folk and poetry/

Farghal,-Mohammed (1993) The Translation of Arabic Cognate Accusatives into English by MA Student Translators
Interface:-Journal-of-Applied-Linguistics-Tijdschrift-voor-Toegepaste-Linguistiek, Brussels, Belgium (Interface). 1993, 8:1, 25-41
DE: Arabic-language-Modern; translation-; cognate-object-construction; in English-language-translation

Fassi Fehri, Abdelkader (19??) Cognate Objects as Arguments. ms? Institut d'Etudes et de Recherche pour l'Arabisation (see Mike Jones's message).

Grimshaw, Jane (1990) Argument Structure, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Hale, Kenneth & Samuel Jay Keyser: 1993, On Argument Structure and the
Lexical Expression of Syntactic Relations, in Hale, Kenneth & Samuel Jay
Keyser (eds.) The View from Building 20, pp. 53-109.

Hansson,-Inga-Lill (1996) Object-Verb in Akha: The ABB Structure
Linguistics-of-the-Tibeto-Burman-Area, Berkeley, CA (LTBA). 1996, 19:1, 77-95
DE: Akha-language; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction; relationship to semantics-

Horita,-Yuko (1996) English Cognate Object Constructions and Their Transitivity
English-Linguistics:-Journal-of-the-English-Linguistic-Society-of-Japan, Tokyo, Japan (EngLing). 1996 Nov, 13, 221-47
DE: English-language-Modern; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction; relationship to transitivity-; application of cognitive-grammar

Jones, Micheal A. (1988) Cognate objects and the case filter. Journal of
Linguistics 24, 89-110.

Khalaily, Samir (1997) "One syntax for all categories: Merging nominal atoms in
multiple adjunction structures". Doctoral thesis, Leiden University. (avaliable from
Holland Academic Graphics [])

Landgraf, G. (1878) De figura etymologica, Acta seminarii Erlangensis I / II, 1878

Larjavaara, Meri: " quoi sert l'objet interne?", _Travaux_de_linguistique_
35, 1997. Pp. 79-88.

Lefebvre, Claire (1994) On Spelling Out E, Travaux de recherche sur le
crole hatien, Dpartement de Linguisitique, Universit du Qubec 

Levin, Beth (1993) English Verb Classes and Alternations, U of Chicago Press, p. 96.

Macfarland,-Talke (1995) Cognate Objects and the Argument/Adjunct Distinction in English
Dissertation-Abstracts-International, Ann Arbor, MI (DAI). 1996 July, 57:1, 194A DAI No.: DA9614788. Degree granting institution: Northwestern U, 1995
DE: English-language-Modern; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction; relationship to argument-structure; dissertation-abstract

Manfredi (1989) Igboid. IN _The Niger-Congo languages_, ed. by John Bendor-Samuel,
UP of America.

Martin, Samuel E. (1992) A reference grammar of Korean, Charles E. Tuttle Co.

Massam,-Diane (1990) Cognate Objects as Thematic Objects. 
Canadian-Journal-of-Linguistics-Revue-Canadienne-de-Linguistique, Downsview, ON, Canada (CJL). 1990 June, 35:2, 161-190
DE: English-language-Modern; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction; relationship to patient-case

Matisoff,-James-A. (1996) The Cognate Noun/Verb Construction in Lahu
Linguistics-of-the-Tibeto-Burman-Area, Berkeley, CA (LTBA). 1996 Spring, 19:1, 97-101
DE: Lahu-language; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction

Matsumoto,-Masumi (1996) The Syntax and Semantics of the Cognate Object Construction
English-Linguistics:-Journal-of-the-English-Linguistic-Society-of-Japan, Tokyo, Japan (EngLing). 1996 Nov, 13, 199-220
DE: English-language-Modern; syntax-; object-; cognate-object-construction; relationship to unergative-verb; semantics-

Mechkova-Atanasova,-Zdravka (1995) Akkusativ des Inhalts, Stabreim i prividno skhodnata bulgarska korennoslovna iteratsiia
Sapostavitelno-Ezikoznanie-Sopostavitel'noe-Jazykoznanie-Contrastive-Linguistics, Sofia, Bulgaria (SEzik). 1995, 20:1, 14-18
LA: Bulgarian
NT: Eng. & Rus. sums.
DE: Bulgarian-language; syntax-; phrase-; cognate-object-construction; compared to German-language

Mittwoch, Anita (1998) Cognate Objects as Reflections of Davidsonian
Arguments. IN Events and Grammar, Susan Rothstein, ed., Kluwer Academic
Publishers, 309-332..

Moltmann, Fredericke (1989) Nominal and clausal event predicates, Papers
from the 25th Annual Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, pp.

Nwachukwu, P.A. (1985) Inherent complement verbs in Igbo. Journal of the
Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 3, pp 61-73.

Nwachukwu, P.A. (1987) The argument structure of Igbo verbs. Lexicon project
working paper, no 18. MIT Center for Cognitive Science.

Olsen, Mari B. and Talke Macfarland (1996) Where is transitivity? Paper presented at the Seventh Annual Formal Linguistics Society of Mid-America conference, May 17-19, 1996, The Ohio State University. Paper dowloadable from Mari B. Olsen's webpage [].

Pereltsvaig, Asya (1998) A Cross-Linguistic Study of Cognate Objects and
Predication of Events, ms.

Pereltsvaig, Asya (1998) Two Classes of Cognate Objects, The Proceedings of
the WCCFL XVII, Vancouver, BC.

Pham, Hoa (to appear) Indirect cognate objects: Vietnamese case. To appear in Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics, next issue.

Ros'en, H. (1997) Figura etymologica. A.M. Bolkestein - R. Risselada e.a. (eds.):	Festschrift for Harm Pinkster. Amsterdam.

Sanchez, Francesco de las Brozas, aka Sanctius aka El Brocense (1562) Minerva, seu, De causis linguae latinae commentarius. In Spanish: Minerva o la propriedad de la lengua latina. (PC: I hope this is the work mentioned by Ana Teresa Perez-Leroux)

Stewart,-Devin-J. (1996) Root-Echo Responses in Egyptian Arabic Politeness Formulae
IN Elgibali-Alaa (ed.). Understanding Arabic: Essays in Contemporary Arabic Linguistics in Honor of El-Said Badawi. Cairo : American U in Cairo P, 1996. vi, 274 pp. 
DE: Arabic-language-Modern; Egyptian-Arabic-dialect; lexicology-; phraseology-; cognate-object-construction; in blessing-; relationship to politeness-; treatment in Ferguson,-Charles-Albert; folk-literature; folk-speech-play; Egypt-; in control-

Stewart, O. T.: 1998, The Serial Verb Construction Parameter, Ph.D.
dissertation, McGill University.

Tolstoy, N.I. Iz poetiki russkih i serbohorvatskih narodnykh pesen:
(Priglagol'nyj tvoritel'nyj tavtologicheskij) // Poetika i stilistika russkoi
literatury / Ed. M.P.Alekseev. - Leningrad, 1971. /Russian folk and poetry/

Wierzbicka, Anna (1982) Why Can You have a drink When You Cant have an
eat?, Language, 58, 753-799.

Zubizarreta, Maria-Louisa: 1987, Levels of Representation in the Lexicon and
the Syntax, Dordrecht, Forris.

Zubova, L.V. Poezija Mariny Cvetajevoj: Lingvisticheskij aspekt. - Leningrad,
1989 (see p.13-30) /Russian folk and poetry/


> From Elena Bashir

The cognate object construction exists importantly in Urdu and Hindi. I
don't know of any work specifically on it in these languages, but some
typical examples are:

mai~ khaanaa khaauu~gaa `I will eat (dinner/food)'.
	The verb khaanaa `to eat' needs an object. You can't say, as you
can in English "I am eating.' meaning `I am eating (a meal).' The most
common object encountered is *khaanaa* `food, meal'

us-ne gaanaa gaaya `S/he sang a song.'
	gaanaa, verb `to sing' and gaanaa, noun `song'

mai~ ek baat bataauu~ `Shall I tell you something?'
	baat, noun `speech, word' and bataanaa, verb `to tell'

I'm sure you can find discussion of this in standard grammars of Hindi or

> From Sam Martin 

Korean has a structure V-um (ul) V, in which -um nominalizes a verb stem
and ul is the accusative marker, so the meaning is something like "do the
doing". A common example is chwu-m ul chwu- "dance a dance = dance". In
earlier Korean the structure was quite widespread, as a stylistic or
emphatic alternate to the simple verb. In modern Korean a different
nominalizer is used for that purpose: V-ki lul V, in which lul is an
allomorph of the accusative marker called for by the preceding vowel. The
vowel in the ending -um is inserted after a consonant; the basic form is
just -m, as in chwu-m. The second V in both types can be (and often is)
replaced by the pro-verb ha- "do".

If you want to know more about Korean you might take a look at my 1992
reference grammar (Samuel E. Martin, A reference grammar of Korean,
Charles E. Tuttle Co.) 

Although Japanese has odor-i _o odor- "dance a dance" with a lexical
nominalization and the accusative case marker, the structure has
never been particularly productive.
There is a productive structure V-i _o si- "does V", with the infinitive
from which the lexical nominalization is derived (by dropping the locus of
accent) and the pro-verb si- "does". That structure is quite common when
focus or delimitation is applied directly to the predicate nucleus.
The focal particle (typically wa or mo) usually suppresses the accusative 
marker, which lurks covertly just below the surface. 

> From Asya Pereltsvaig <>

I've been working on cognate object constructions for more than a year
now. There is of course a lot of literature on this subject, most of
them referred to in my paper. ... this paper is still not published
(the last version of it, that is; some preliminary version is published
in the last WCCFL proceedings, but I don't know how easy it is to get
it)... Most of what I have to say about cognate objects is in the
paper so I will not elaborate here.
(see references section for titles of her papers) 

> From Fritz Heberlein

In Latin this is called the "figura etymologica" construction. The 
term, however, is of 19th century origin (G. Landgraf, de figura 
etymologica, Acta seminarii Erlangensis I / II, 1878).

A recent study on syntax and semantics of f.e. in Latin is
H. Ros'en, Figura etymologica. A.M. Bolkestein - R. Risselada e.a. 
(eds.):	Festschrift for Harm Pinkster. Amsterdam 1997
(cited out of memory, no details at hand - sorry).

> From Ana Teresa Perez-Leroux 

The only description I have read of this in regards to Romance comes from
the Rennaissance grammairian Sanctius (aka `El Brocense'), who believed
that optional intransitives had implicit direct objects, and used the
cognate object examples to make his point. I have read him in Spanish but
I believed the original examples were Latin.

(PC: the reference I dug up for El Brocense is included in the references 
section above - I hope this is the relevant work. El Brocense aka Francesco 
Sanchez de las Brozas)

> From Meri E Larjavaara 

I have been myself interested in cognate objects in Modern French and have
written an article on the category. I copy here its summary.

Meri Larjavaara: " quoi sert l'objet interne?", _Travaux_de_linguistique_
35, 1997. Pp. 79-88.



Two different types of criteria determine a cognate object in modern
French (cf. Gougenheim, 1964). According to the semantic criteria, the
referent of a cognate object is internal to the action - that is, the
object refers to the action itself ("vivre une vie heureuse" `to live a
happy life') or to the result of the action ("pleurer des larmes de joie"
`to cry tears of joy'); according to the syntactic criterion, the verb in
question is "normally" intransitive. Most often the syntactic criterion
seems to be the conclusive one, because the semantic criteria do not allow
to distinguish between the so-called cognate objects and many other cases.
However, that leads to reasoning in a circle: "normally intransitive"
verbs are precisely those that do not have objects, and if they have one
(be it a cognate object), they cannot be considered intransitive. In
modern French the notion of cognate object seems to have no other use than
to justify the presence of an object with some verbs which most often do
not have one.

> From Mari Broman Olsen <>

In re: your LINGUIST query, Talke Macfarland, a student of Beth
Levin's, wrote her dissertationon the COC, especially considering its
argument status and aspectual effect. A brief sketch of her
some of her conclusions is embedded in a paper we wrote together (on
my website: - PC: see references above-)... 
She deals from a large corpus of examples (2000+) on English, as well as 
considering other languages.

> From Jo Tyler, 1 of 2

Regarding your query on the Linguist List Vol. 9-1611 about cognate
objects, you are probably already familiar with articles by Hale & Keyser,
Kiparsky, and Williams (among others) in COMPLEX PREDICATES, ed. by A.
Alsina, J. Bresnan & P. Sells, 1997, Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
These articles address some of the issues you raised in your query.
	In addition to cognate objects occurring with unergatives as
mentioned in your query, they also occur with denominal transitive verbs
in English such as "shelve the books on the top shelf/ on the desk" 
(see Kiparsky, cited above).
	One of the features of these cognate object constructions that I
have noticed in English is that the objects are not bare NPs, but have a
strong tendency to occur with some kind of complement or modifier. I am
curious about why this occurs:
	--Is there some kind of grammatical constraint? (comparable to
adverbs occurring with middle constructions)
	--Is this due to encyclopedic/extralinguistic factors?
	__Or, is it (merely) a stylistic restriction?

> From Jo Tyler, 2 of 2

	Since your original query, I have come across some other
references, which address (if only indirectly) your question about
shelf/shelve type cognates. Beth Levin (English Verb Classes and
Alternations, 1993, U of Chicago Press, p. 96) refers to these as "cognate
prespositional phrase constructions" and there are some additonal
references cited there. 
	An article by Diane Massam (1990, Canadian Journal of Linguistics,
35(2), pp. 161-190) disucsses cognate objects (of the smile and die/death
type) as "thematic objects." Taking a similar approach to the shelf type
(i.e. a thematic role approach), I think one ought to include them as a
type of cognate object.
	I will be happy to discuss this topic with you further as it is
central to a research project I am currently engaged in.

> From Jouni Maho

There are similar constructions in the Nigerian Igboid languages
(Niger-Congo), called Bound Verb Complement (BVC). Says Manfredi (in the
article "Igboid" in _The Niger-Congo languages_, ed by John Bendor-Samuel,
UP of America, 1989):

 "When there is no lexical object, the BVC is obligatory. When both
 occur the predicate is emphatic" (p352)

EXAMPLES (diacritics omitted):
with lexical object: Ada ri-ri ji "Ada ate yam"
without lexical object: Ada ri-ri eri "Ada ate (something)"
lexical object plus BVC: Ada ri-ri ji eri "Ada really ate yam"

There seems to be some kind of constraints on how to use BVC in certain
tenses/aspects, that is, it is only obligatory together with the aspectual
suffix -rV, which Manfredi does not gloss nor explain. It seems to indicate
`perfect' though.

The following references are given in Manfredi's article where this
particular phenomena is treated (besides references to conference talks):

P A Nwachukwu. 1985. Inherent complement verbs in Igbo. Journal of the
Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 3, pp 61-73.

P A Nwachukwu. 1987. The argument structure of Igbo verbs. Lexicon project
working paper, no 18. MIT Center for Cognitive Science.

> From Mike Jones <>

I published a paper on this topic:

M. A. Jones, (1988) 'Cognate Objects and the Case Filter', Journal of 
Linguistics 24, 89-110.

It deals mainly with English, but there is some discussion of German, 
Latin and Arabic (By the way, if you consult it the Arabic example on 
p102 is wrongly transcribed -- I misread the informant's handwriting. I 
don't have the correct version to hand, but I can get it if you need 

Abdelkader Fassi Fehri wrote a paper entitled 'Cognate Objects as 
Arguments' which is partially a critical reply to my paper, though it 
deals mainly with Arabic. The version I have is a typescript and I 
don't know whether it was ever published. For more info (and perhaps a 
copy) you could write to the author... 

> From Ton van der Wouden <>

You may want to take a look at Samir Khalaily's 1997 Leiden Thesis,
entitled "One syntax for all categories : merging nominal atoms in
multiple adjunction structures", and avaliable via Holland Academic
Graphics (, in which whole new ideas about sentence
structure are built up, taking cognate object constructures as one of
the building blocks.

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