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Language in Performance

LiP

Silke Hche

Cognate Object Constructions in English


A Cognitive-Linguistic Account

Gunter Narr Verlag Tbingen

Cognate Object Constructions in English

41
Edited by Werner Hllen and Rainer Schulze
Advisory Board: Thomas Herbst (Erlangen), Andreas Jucker (Zrich), Manfred Krug (Bamberg), Christian Mair (Freiburg i. Br.), Ute Rmer (Hannover), Andrea Sand (Trier), Hans-Jrg Schmid (Mnchen), Josef Schmied (Chemnitz) and Edgar W. Schneider (Regensburg)

Silke Hche

Cognate Object Constructions in English


A Cognitive-Linguistic Account

Gunter Narr Verlag Tbingen

Bibliografische Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet ber <http://dnb.d-nb.de> abrufbar.

Dissertation an der Ruhr-Universitt Bochum (D 294)

2009 Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH + Co. KG Dischingerweg 5 D-72070 Tbingen Das Werk einschlielich aller seiner Teile ist urheberrechtlich geschtzt. Jede Verwertung auerhalb der engen Grenzen des Urheberrechtsgesetzes ist ohne Zustimmung des Verlages unzulssig und strafbar. Das gilt insbesondere fr Vervielfltigungen, bersetzungen, Mikroverfilmungen und die Einspeicherung und Verarbeitung in elektronischen Systemen. Gedruckt auf surefreiem und alterungsbestndigem Werkdruckpapier. Internet: www.narr.de E-Mail: info@narr.de Druck und Bindung: Ilmprint, Langewiesen Printed in Germany ISSN 0939-9399 ISBN 978-3-8233-6489-4

Acknowledgements
When I seemed to die a thousand small deaths during my final examinations as a student of English Literature and Linguistics, I wasn't aware that dying deaths, dreaming dreams and telling tales would one day be the subject of my doctoral thesis on grammatical constructions, let alone a complete book. Now, that the book is finished, it is time to thank a thousand thanks to all those people who have never stopped supporting me and believing that this enterprise would come to a successful end. My greatest thanks are owed to my mom, my sister, Fritz and my grandma for their love and constant moral, emotional and financial support. Thank you for always being there for me and providing me with a safe and warm haven during this adventurous journey! I would also like to acknowledge friends and colleagues who reduced the stress of writing a doctoral thesis, especially Darja, Ingo, Martina and Andrea, who lent me their ears, opinions and (technical) support. Special thanks are due to Prof. Dr. Rainer Schulze, the editor of this book series, and Stefan Thomas Gries for sharing with me his expertise and knowledge on statistics and the interpretation of data. Last but most importantly I would like to express my deep gratitude to my research supervisor Prof. Dr. Doris Schnefeld for her sustained encouragement, guidance, patience and advice. Several of the ideas and models presented and discussed in this book owe their final shape to stimulating suggestions by and insightful discussions with her. Her enthusiasm for linguistic research has always been an inspiration for me and kept me going in phases of doubt and uncertainty.

Table of Contents
1 Introduction .............................................................................................. 1.1 1.2 1.3 2.1 Aims of the book ............................................................................. Methodological issues .................................................................... Overview of the book ..................................................................... Introduction ..................................................................................... 1 1 3 5 8 8 9 9 10 12 15 16 17 17 20 23 28 29 30 32 34 37 38 38 41 42 45 46 49 49 50 52

2 Cognate Object Constructions: Past and Present .............................. 2.2 COCs in Descriptive / Reference Grammars .............................. 2.2.1 Henry Sweet (1891) ............................................................... 2.2.2 Otto Jespersen (1927) ............................................................ 2.2.3 Quirk et al. (1985) .................................................................. 2.2.4 Huddleston & Pullum (2002) .............................................. 2.2.5 Summary: Descriptive Grammar accounts of COCs ....... 2.3 Generative Grammar approaches to COCs ................................. 2.3.1 Generative Grammar / Government and Binding: Chomsky (1965, 1981) ........................................................... 2.3.2 Cognate Objects as adjuncts: Jones (1988) ......................... 2.3.3 Cognate Objects as arguments: Massam (1990) ................ 2.3.4 Summary and discussion: COCs in Generative Grammar 2.4 Functional Grammar accounts of COCs ...................................... 2.4.1 COCs as instances of valency extension: Dik (1997) ........ 2.4.2 Cognate Objects as Participants: Halliday (1985, 2004) ... 2.4.3 A Functional Constraint on the COC: Kuno & Takami (2004) ....................................................................................... 2.4.4 Summary and discussion: COCs in Functional Grammar Macfarland (1995): Cognate Objects and the adjunct / argument distinction ........................................................................................ 2.5.1 Constraints on the form of COCs ....................................... 2.5.2 COCs compared to Light Verb Constructions .................. 2.5.3 Evidence for COs as arguments .......................................... 2.5.4 Summary and discussion ..................................................... 2.6 3.1 3.2 3.3 Conclusion ....................................................................................... Introduction: Cognitive Linguistics and Cognitive Grammar The non-autonomy of language ................................................... The symbolic nature of grammar ................................................. 3 Basic Tenets of Cognitive Linguistics .................................................

2.5

VII

3.4

Meaning as conceptualization ...................................................... 3.4.1 Subjectivist and encyclopaedic semantics ......................... 3.4.2 Construal ................................................................................ Linguistic categorization ............................................................... 3.5.1 Linguistic categories as prototype categories ................... 3.5.2 Language usage as categorization ...................................... The usage-based account of language ......................................... Constructions and construction grammars ................................ 3.7.1 Construction grammars: Common grounds ..................... 3.7.2 Predictability and compositionality of constructions ...... 3.7.3 Autonomous syntax vs. reductionism? ............................. 3.7.4 Lexical polysemy and constructional meaning ................ Conclusion ......................................................................................... Introduction ..................................................................................... Events, results, landmarks: Different types of Cognate Objects 4.3.1 Eventive Object vs. Object of Result ................................... 4.3.2 Landmarks and products ..................................................... 4.3.3 Derivational directions ......................................................... 4.3.4 Types of COs A summarizing overview ........................ 4.3.5 Cognate Subjects? .................................................................. The composite structure [V + CO], or: How to integrate an object with an intransitive verb ........................................................ 4.4.1 Langacker's approach: Where does the e-site come from? 4.4.2 COCS: Arguments or adverbials? ....................................... 4.4.3 COCs as argument structure constructions Testing Goldberg's model .................................................................. 4.4.4 A 'hybrid model' for COCs ...............................................

54 54 55 60 60 62 63 66 66 69 70 73 74 76 76 79 79 84 86 88 89 92 92 95 100 106 108 108 110 112

3.5

3.6 3.7

3.8 4.1 4.2 4.3

4 A Cognitive Linguistic description of COCs: General issues ........

The meaning of COCs ..................................................................... 77

4.4

4.5

Repeated content: Redundancy vs. Iconicity .............................. 4.5.1 Iconicity in language ............................................................ 4.5.2 The "more of form" ............................................................... 4.5.3 The iconicity of repetition ....................................................

4.6 5.1 5.2 5.3 VIII

Summary and conclusion ................................................................ 117 Introduction ..................................................................................... 118 CL and corpus linguistics: The usage-based approach to language .......................................................................................... 119 General methodological considerations ...................................... 122

5 Consulting the corpus: Towards a usage-based network of COCs 118

5.4

Semantic classes and COC types .................................................. 124 between verb and construction .................................................... 132

5. 5 A collexeme analysis of COCs Measuring the association 5.6 5.7 A usage-based network of argument structure constructions 137

Summary and conclusion .............................................................. 143

6 The Transitivity of COCs ...................................................................... 144 6.1. Introduction ..................................................................................... 144 6.2. Transitivity in Cognitive Grammar ............................................. 144 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Hopper & Thompson (1980): Features of transitivity ............... 148 The transitivity prototype .............................................................. 150 Other event scenarios ..................................................................... 153 COCs Means of elaborating event structure .......................... 6.6.1 Unaccusative verbs ............................................................... 6.6.2 Unergative verbs ................................................................... 6.6.3 Transitive verbs ..................................................................... 159 159 163 165

6.7 6.8 6.9 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 9.1 9.2 9.3

The transitivity continuum ............................................................ 167 To passivize or not to passivize? .................................................. 171 Summary and conclusion .............................................................. 179 Introduction ..................................................................................... 180 Aspect, aktionsart, aspectuality ..................................................... 181 Boundedness: Concepts and implications .................................. 184 Iterative processes ........................................................................... 187 Continuous processes ..................................................................... 189 Peripheral cases ............................................................................... 195 Conclusion ....................................................................................... 198 Introduction ..................................................................................... 200 Determiners in the CO-phrase ...................................................... 200 Modification patterns ..................................................................... 209 Summary and conclusion .............................................................. 213 Preliminary considerations ........................................................... 215 Live happily or live a happy life ? ...................................................... 220 Die naturally or die a natural death? ................................................ 223 IX

7 Packaged events: Aspectual characteristics of COCs ..................... 180

8 Mid-level schemas: The make-up of the CO-nominal ..................... 200

9 COCs vs. VACs: Putting alternations to the test ............................... 215

9.4 9.5

Smile slowly or smile a slow smile? .................................................. 226 Summary and discussion ............................................................... 228

10 Dont have a run, run a run! LVCs and COCs compared ............ 231 10.1 Introduction ..................................................................................... 231 10.2 A brief portrayal of LVCs .............................................................. 10.2.1 General observations ....................................................... 10.2.2 Formal characteristics of LVCs ...................................... 10.2.3 Syntactic and semantic issues in the study of LVCs ... 10.4 The semantics of selected LVCs in comparison to COCs ......... 10.4.1 Have-LVCs: Have a dance vs. dance a dance .................... 10.4.2 Give-LVCs: Give a smile vs. smile a smile ........................ 10.4.3 Take-LVCs: Take a breath vs. breathe a breath .................. 10.4.4 Do-LVCs: Do a dance vs. dance a dance .......................... 233 233 234 235 240 240 243 246 249

10.3 Parallels between COCs and LVCs ? ........................................... 237

10.5 Summary and conclusion ............................................................. 250 11 Lower-level schemas: Collocations, idioms, register ....................... 254 11.1 Preliminary considerations ........................................................... 254 11.2 Variable low-level schemas ........................................................... 256 11.3 Fixed units ........................................................................................ 259 11.4 Register ............................................................................................. 263 11.5 Summary and conclusion: A usage-based network of constructions ................................................................................... 269 12 I have a tale to tell: Conclusion and outlook ..................................... 272 12.1 Summary of findings ...................................................................... 272 12.2 Future perspectives ........................................................................ 277 13 References ................................................................................................. 282 14 Appendix ................................................................................................... 298

List of abbreviations
1. Theoretical Frameworks CL CG FG GG Cognitive Linguistics Cognitive Grammar Functional Grammar Generative Grammar

2. Construction types and constituents COC EV/R1 R2 A LVC TLV TO VAC VAV Cognate Object Construction COCs of the type 'Event/Result' COCs of the type 'Result' COCs of the type 'Affected' Light Verb Construction True Light Verbs Transitivizing Object Verb Adverb Construction Vague Action Verb

XI

Introduction

1.1

Aims of the book

Sentences like
(1)

a. Tessa stopped crying and sighed a deep, uncontrollable sigh like a yawn. (G12: 1551)1 b. Delighted to get some response at last, Lord Cumbermound grinned his evil grin. (H8B: 1221) c. Her secret love for Robert must stay hidden, and perhaps eventually it would die a slow and painful death. (JYE: 3864)

display a construction which has become known as 'Cognate Object Construction' (COC) in linguistic descriptions. 'Cognate', from Latin cognatus, meaning 'related by blood', however, has turned out to be a problematic notion when applied to the portrayal of such verb-object combinations, especially as regards descriptive and/or definitional criteria for the specification of the types of relations that hold between verb and object, be they of a semantic, morphological or syntactical nature. While the description and analysis of the construction played some role in Generative Grammar research, where it was discussed as a challenge to certain established principles and theoretical constructs (e.g. subcategorization frames or case-assignment), not much attention has been paid to this phenomenon in more recent approaches to and models of language, such as Functional Grammar or Cognitive Linguistics. This apparent 'gap' has been one major motivation for the research project to be presented here: a profound description of COCs2 as meaningful patterns within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics (CL), exploiting its methodological and descriptive inventory and its assumptions about mental representation of language in speakers. The notion of 'construction', in most general and neutral terms defined as a pairing of form and meaning (i.e. a symbolic unit), has in recent times

If not indicated otherwise, all the examples given are quoted from the British National Corpus (BNC). The use of the plural form "constructions" is deliberate and will come to be explained in the course of this investigation. (One general note on footnotes: Numbering of footnotes starts anew from 1 in each chapter for the sake of clarity and readerfriendliness).

become a core concept in linguistic description, being part and parcel of descriptive models of so-called construction grammar approaches to language (see esp. Fillmore, Kay & O'Connor 1988). Proponents of construction grammar, a family of related grammatical theories, view language as consisting of a taxonomic inventory of constructions as elementary units, instead of as atomic syntactic units and rules of their combination into larger structures. Assumptions and principles of construction grammar are inherent to models of linguistic representation developed within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics (see especially Goldberg 1995, 2006; Lakoff 1987; Langacker 1987a, 1991a). Being couched into the CL paradigm, the present investigation has as one of its main objectives to depict COCs as symbolic units, viz. unique pairings of form (syntactic and phonological aspects) and meaning (semantic and pragmatic aspects), and to spell out their lexical, semantic and formal properties. As noted initially, the notion of 'cognate' has been the source of controversies about the types of defining relations that hold between verb and object, and hence the types of object that can be recognized as cognate forms. This shows in the various attempts by scholars to single out syntactic, morphological and semantic criteria for the definition and delimitation of the category of 'cognate objects'. The present approach differs from previous accounts in that it broadens the category and incorporates into the analysis forms which have so far not been considered as cognate objects. Extending the scope of possible candidates of cognate objects, I will abandon the idea of one single COC-type and instead depict a family of different, but related types of COCs. My attempt to demonstrate the relationship between the various constructional patterns and their more or less schematic representations within a constructional network takes up and builds on the notion of a 'taxonomic inventory' of linguistic units, eventually resulting in the integration of COCs into a larger network of constructions. The postulation of constructional schemas will be tenable only if it is accompanied by an assessment of their plausibility with respect to actual usage and exploitation by speakers when processing frequently used phrases such as I just wanna live my life or possibly creating novel or unusual forms, such as I am so damn flam, I slam a slam3. The present project thus constitutes and promotes a usage-based approach to COCs in that it draws on and abstracts away from concrete, naturally occurring language samples as documented in the British National Corpus (BNC), currently being the largest available corpus of present-day English. This approach paves the way for one further objective to be realised in this survey: the development of a network of COCs which comprises schemas which not

Line of the song Soul by the Pound by the band "Common"; found on http://www.lyricsfind.com/c / common / 5915.html (online access: 02/07/07).

only differ with respect to their degree of abstractness, but which, moreover, are weighted on the basis of their frequency of usage.

1.2

Methodological issues

As spelt out in the preceding section, one major goal of my investigation of COCs is a close analysis of their semantics, i.e. their conceptual content. There exists a broad spectrum of methodologies for the exploration of conceptual structure (which surfaces in linguistic structure), such as (the traditional) introspection, cross-linguistic comparison of linguistic phenomena of typologically related and unrelated languages, computer-aided investigation of large language corpora, inferential statistical analyses and comparison of the data obtained from such corpus investigation, psycholinguistic experiments such as eye-movement measures or lexical decision tasks, to name just a few (see Gonzalez-Marques et al. 2007, Janssen & Redeker 1999). Although there is a wide recognition for the striving for converging evidence among the cognitive linguists community, i.e. evidence combining findings from introspection, corpus analyses and psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic experimentation, a large part of the studies done in the field lacks such a comprehensive foundation, presenting results arrived at by 'isolated' methodological procedures (i.e. by introspection only, or by corpus investigation only etc.). My investigation of COCs attempts at the integration of at least two sources of evidence: introspection in conjunction with theoretical analysis and corpus investigation in conjunction with inferential statistical analysis. Although the application of purely introspective methods has been criticized heavily and vehemently by some cognitive linguists (see, among others, Cuyckens et al. 1997; Geeraerts 1999, 2006; Gibbs 2007), one can, however, not neglect or even deny the importance of introspection for the development of Cognitive Linguistics in general, and for the analysis of conceptual/ semantic structure in particular. Talmy (2007: xii) assesses the role of introspective procedures in linguistic research as follows:
The methodology of introspection [] has been central in the development of cognitive linguistics and continues as its main methodology, [] and its particular profile of limitations has in part led to the pattern in the use of other methodologies.

Gibbs (2007: 3), who pleads for a stronger integration of empirical methods into cognitive linguistic research, does, nonetheless, also grant some importance to introspections in that they form a "valuable sources for constructing hypotheses" and in that they have led to findings about structures of the human conceptual system which may "indeed be correct and thus psychologically plausible".

According to Talmy's (2007) account, which evaluates the accessibility of linguistic categories and structures to introspection, it is the aspect of meaning (i.e. conceptual content) which is most easily accessible to introspective analysis, and here in particular the meaning of concrete words, phrases and sentences (cf. ibid.: xiii)4. My objective is to explore and describe the meaning of a more schematic, abstract meaning of a construction, which, due to its less concrete nature, offers only moderate accessibility to introspection. Yet, while constructional meaning itself might not be as readily accessible, generalizations over concrete instances of the construction (i.e. sentences/utterances), whose meaning, following Talmy, can be retrieved through introspection, will support the postulation of a more abstract meaning of constructional templates. The collection of such concrete instances, i.e. naturally occurring tokens of COCs, however, falls to a great extend under the realm of corpus linguistics, where huge language corpora can provide the linguistic researcher with a contemporary and authentic cross-section of conventionalized speech phenomena. Complementing introspective investigation with corpus-linguistic procedures has the advantage of making observations and results measurable5: Not only can the recorded speech samples illustrate the particular linguistic forms under investigation, but also can careful statistical analyses of these data bring to light subtle patterns of usage, e.g. preferences of a specific construction for particular forms of modification, determination, tense etc., or even reveal the existence of ready-made, lexicalized phrases such as idioms. For my investigation of the particular constructional patterns, I compiled a large collection of instances of COCs by means of an extensive (yet, not exhaustive) search of the British National Corpus (BNC), a 100 million word collection of samples of contemporary texts of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources6. The obtained data, more than 3000 examples of COCs, form the complete basis of my description and analysis be it introspective, theoretical or statistical. Making use of introspective and theoretical description and employing the descriptive apparatus of CL, I will explore semantic and syntactic idiosyncrasies of COCs, which have partly been taken up already by researchers, who, however, were working in different theoretical paradigms. As for the statistical approach, phenomena and patterns of concrete usage are to be identified, described and ex4

As Talmy (2007: xiii) explains: "Meaning is a consciousness phenomenon and, if it is to be taken on as a target of research, introspection itself a process occurring in consciousness - is the relevant instrumentality able to reach its venue." The fact that results gained through introspection cannot be operationalized and measured objectively often led and leads to the rejection of this method in scientific research (as was especially the case in Behaviourism). A detailed description of my compilation of the data and all related procedures is provided in Chapter 5.

amined critically, especially against the background of findings of previously conducted studies on COCs.

1.3

Overview of the book

With respect to the purposes pursued and the methods applied, the study presented in this book basically follows a tripartite structure: Chapters 2 and 3 have a summarizing function: Chapter 2 is to provide an overview of the treatment of COCs in different phases in the history of linguistic description, taking into consideration the domineering linguistic models of the respective stages. Traditional-descriptive approaches, analyses couched into the Generative Grammar paradigm and studies with a Functional Grammar background will be summarized, discussed and evaluated. In Chapter 3 I will briefly delineate basic tenets and common goals of Cognitive Linguistics and introduce those concepts, assumptions and descriptive devices of the paradigm which are to be deployed for the depiction of the construction as an idiosyncratic assembly of form, meaning and function in the remaining chapters of the study. Chapter 4 is basically of a descriptive nature, focusing on selected aspects of the construction. It will investigate the semantics of COCs, describing different types of the construction and the respective conceptual content verbalized by these various forms. Moreover, the question in how far principles of iconicity can be drawn upon as a motivation of the particular pairing of form and meaning will be addressed. Chapters 5-11, being empirically driven, will present the results of a corpus analysis of the actual usage of COCs in contemporary English, based on the British National Corpus (BNC). These chapters exemplify the fruitful relationship between CL and corpus-based approaches to language in that data of natural usage are statistically evaluated and integrated into a network model of constructions. Furthermore, the validity of observations and claims made in foregoing chapters is checked against facts and figures elicited from the corpus data, allowing for the depiction of more concrete and fine-grained types of COCs. All of the aspects investigated in those chapters incorporate observations which are related to and build on concrete samples of speech found in the BNC. At times, examples found on the World Wide Web (itself a 'mega-corpus' of language) will be quoted to complement instances taken from the BNC and to illustrate forms which are not attested in the corpus analysed7.

As the Czech linguist Karel Oliva noted only recently on the 2nd international conference on Grammar and Corpora (Liblice, Sept. 25-27, 2007), currently available corpora