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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

Cognate objects in language variation and change

From the book Exact Repetition in Grammar and Discourse

  • Matthias Eitelmann and Britta Mondorf


This paper investigates cognate object constructions such as sing a song or snore a snore, which constitute a repetition phenomenon involving the occurrence of a verb in combination with an object that is etymologically and semantically related to the verb. As a first step, cognate object constructions are put into the larger context of English pseudo-object constructions and syntax-semantics mismatches (e.g. way-constructions such as to snore one’s way through a lecture, dummy it such as to leg it or light verb constructions such as to take a snore) in order to evaluate the systematicity with which English makes use of transitivization strategies. Drawing on a large database of historical prose fiction corpora, the study then sheds empirical light on the trajectory of change of 46 cognate object constructions with both canonically transitive and intransitive verbs in the diachronic development from the 16th century to the present, with the 19th century emerging as the ‘breeding ground’ for cognate object constructions.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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