more verbing

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Jul 7 12:34:35 UTC 1999


Of course, you are right. All these things are "objects," regardless of the
incredible variety of their semantic connections to their verbs. So we
speak of "cake" in "baked a cake" as an object (although "bake" obviously
"creates" a cake, rather than "acting" on it) just as we speak of "vase" as
the object in "I broke a vase." Of course, it's important ot keep all the
"subcategories" of objects straight since they show up in in different
constructions in different languages (and, in fact, allow different
grammatical operations in even the same language). For example, the objects
in "I baked a cake" and "I broke a vase" can both become subjects with no
semantic distortion ("The vase broke," "The cake baked"), but if you try
that with another "object" ("I swatted a fly") you will get nonsense ("The
fly swatted").


>Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system...
>So, in my world (call it "Andrea's World") verbing is the making of its object
>into a verb.  Otherwise it would be redundant.  As for baking, well, I'm not a
>big fan of cake, but I see your point.  The difference is that whatever it is
>you verb becomes a verb.  This is not true of baking.  However, if you say
>a batter", this is pretty generic; the batter could be cake batter, or cookie
>batter, or bread batter (quickbread, that is).  So I surmise we default to the
>more specific information, which lies in the result of the baking.  For
>the most meaningful interpretation is the original sense of the word - we know
>what the result is.  Truth be told, though, the word that is verbed is the
>object; how you interpret its part of speech is up to you.
>'For me, it is other parts of speech which can be verbed,' she viewpointed,
>(of "Andrea's World")
>Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>> Andrea,
>> A little opaque (even for me). When I say you "verb verbs," I mean you
>> "create [verb] verbs" (out of whatever material), just like you "bake a
>> cake" out of material which is certainly not a cake to start with. Lots of
>> verbs have this "creative" function, in which you do not "do" something to
>> something else (prototypically transitive) but "cause" something to come
>> into being as a result of the activity.
>> If you "transitively" baked a cake, you would take a cake already made and
>> stick it in the oven. Not a good plan.
>> OK?
>> dInIs
>> >Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> PS: One might, by the way, treat "verb" as an "essentially" transitive
>> >> in  that it has a "cognate object" (which, therefore, need not be overtly
>> >> expressed). That is, one "verbs verbs" (causes items to become verbs),
>> >> although this is slightly more complex than typical cognate verbs,
>> >> some objects which appear with semantically "depleted" verbs (e.g., "I
>> >> a fuss" versus "I fussed") are similar.
>> >>
>> >
>> >OK, I'm lost.  Maybe I'm not understanding what you're saying here, but I
>> >thought one verbs nouns and adjectives, not verbs.
>> >
>> >And I'm trying to grok "franticking" - I envision pandemonium.
>> >
>> >Andrea
>> >--

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

More information about the Ads-l mailing list