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  • Adverbial Cognate Objects
  • Heizo Nakajima

1 Introduction

Kuno and Takami (2004:116) make the remarkable observation that some unaccusative verbs can occur with cognate objects.

(1)

  1. a. The tree grew a century's growth within only ten years.

  2. b. The stock market dropped its largest drop in three years today.

  3. c. Stanley watched as the ball bounced a funny little bounce right into the shortstop's glove.

  4. d. The apples fell just a short fall to the lower deck, and so were not too badly bruised. [End Page 674]

This observation contradicts the widely held generalization about the occurrence of cognate objects, which Kuno and Takami (2004:107) state as the Unergative Restriction on the Cognate Object Construction.

(2) Unergative Restriction on the Cognate Object Construction

Only unergative verbs can appear in the cognate object construction. No unaccusative verbs can.

See furthermore Keyser and Roeper 1984, Massam 1992, Tenny 1994, Levin and Rappaport Hovav 1995, Macfarland 1995, and Hale and Keyser 2002, among others.

A primary purpose of this squib is to argue that the fact in (1), though opposing (2), does not contradict the assumption from which (2) is drawn, namely, the Unaccusative Hypothesis (Perlmutter 1978; henceforth, the UH). The UH divides intransitive verbs into unergative and unaccusative ones, and differentiates their subject positions in underlying structures.

(3) The Unaccusative Hypothesis

Unergative and unaccusative verbs are syntactically differentiated; while unergative verbs have nonderived subjects (i.e. surface subjects are generated as subjects at D-structure), surface subjects of unaccusative verbs originate as direct objects.

(Kuno and Takami 2004:19)

I will show in the squib that cognate objects like those in (1) are not argumental but adverbial; hence, they occupy adjunct position rather than object position. The assumption that cognate objects may occur in adjunct position as well as in object position will forge a way out of the long-lasting controversy over whether cognate objects are arguments (Massam 1992, Tenny 1994, Macfarland 1995, Matsumoto 1996) or adjuncts (Iwakura 1976, Jones 1988, Moltmann 1989). Furthermore, I will show that not all unaccusative verbs can occur with an adverbial cognate object, and I will suggest some ways to deal with this fact.

2 Adverbial Cognate Objects

The verbs in (1), repeated here, are obviously unaccusative, because they represent nonvolitional events involving nonhuman subjects, and they express the change of state or location of their referents (see Perlmutter 1978, Perlmutter and Postal 1984).

(4)

  1. a. The tree grew a century's growth within only ten years.

  2. b. The stock market dropped its largest drop in three years today.

  3. c. Stanley watched as the ball bounced a funny little bounce right into the shortstop's glove.1 [End Page 675]

  4. d. The apples fell just a short fall to the lower deck, and so were not too badly bruised.

Interestingly, the cognate objects in (3) can be replaced by objectlike DPs that are morphologically unrelated to the verbs and are surely not cognate objects (Christopher Tancredi, pers. comm.).

(5)

  1. a. The tree trunk grew a century's expansion in only ten years.

  2. b. The stock market dropped 250 points today.

  3. c. The ball bounced a funny little curve right into the shortstop's glove.

  4. d. The apples fell the length of my arm.

The italicized DPs in (5) can be approximately paraphrased by using adverbial PPs representing the resultant extent of the events, as in (6).2

(6)

  1. a. The tree trunk grew by a century's expansion in only ten years.

  2. b. The stock market dropped by 250 points today.

  3. c. The ball bounced with a funny little curve right into the shortstop's glove.3

  4. d. The apples fell {by/to} the length of my arm. [End Page 676]

The cognate objects in (4), as well as the extent DPs in (5), cannot be passivized, as shown in (7) and (8).

(7)

  1. a. *A century's growth was grown within only ten years by the tree trunk.

  2. b. *The largest drop in three years was dropped by the stock market today.

  3. c. *A funny little bounce was bounced right into the shortstop's glove by the ball.

  4. d. *Just a short fall was fallen to the lower deck by the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9150
Print ISSN
0024-3892
Pages
pp. 674-684
Launched on MUSE
2006-11-02
Open Access
No
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