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Cognitive Linguistics

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Cut and break verbs in Sranan

* Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Florida, 458 Grinter Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611-5565, USA.

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 231–239, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/COG.2007.011, September 2007

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Guerssel et al. (1985) propose that crosslinguistically, separation verbs group into cut verbs and break verbs based on their meaning. This meaning supposedly affects the constructions in which the verbs occur, e.g., only break verbs are expected to participate in the causative/inchoative alternation. In Sranan, a verb that superficially looks like ‘cut’ in English is actually a break verb. Also, not only break verbs participate in the causative/inchoative alternation, as expected, but cut verbs do also. I argue that the intransitive use of cut verbs does not yield a passive construction as proposed by some; instead, it is inchoative.

Keywords: cut and break; separation events; verb semantics; causative/inchoative alternation; lexicalization; Sranan

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