Paul Hopper hopper at CMU.EDU
Tue Aug 19 22:11:26 UTC 2003

Frans is correct about the title of Haj Ross' paper. I don’t believe Haj
ever published this paper, though he often gave it as a presentation.
Semanticists (Kenny, Mourelatos, etc) love examples like "We rang the
doorbell three times" (gave it three rings/rang it on three occasions).
Since any semelfactive can take adverbs, it still seems that re- is
understood as a  single repetition unless this meaning is overridden by an

Typologically there is something more happening here. It does seem that
Haj’s "worded up" forms like re- (mis-, etc.) prefer transitive verbs,
though we must be careful not to be guided solely by intuitions. Just a
few minutes ago I heard someone say on the phone "No, we’re not
re-subscribing this year." The object of "Robin wants to hire a Belgian"
is ambiguous between referential and nonreferential readings, but the
object of "Robin wants to re-hire a Belgian" is only referential. In
"Leslie wrote a poem" the object is effected (=less transitive), but in
"Leslie re-wrote a poem" it is affected (=more transitive). And perfective
aspect, which tends to go along with transitivity, is often associated
with verbal prefixes (there are Indo-European, and, I think, Hungarian and
Georgian examples).

- Paul Hopper

>> At 14:36 18.08.2003 -0700, Dan I. Slobin wrote:
>>English re- is exceptionally productive, but I don't know if anyone has
>>figured out the constraints.
> Haj Ross has, a while ago.   I can't remember the reference, but I believe
> the title was "Wording Up".
> And there is a vast (formal) semantics literature on 'again', 're-', and
> such, though typically limiting itself to the L1 of formal semanticists
> (German).
> Incidentally, to add to the terminological embarrass de richesse, I'm
> using
> PROLONGATIVE as a cover term for (forms or constructions for) the
> continuation of a process or state beyond their normal temporal extension,
> or also their prolongation through reiteration, with the participants
> remaining the same throughout.  So far as I know, PROLONGATIVE is a term
> coined for an aspectual form of Navajo by Young & Morgan (The Navajo
> Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary. Albuquerque: University of
> New Mexico Press,1980: 325-326).  However, the semantics of that
> particular
> form for unintentional action or suppressed initiator control ('doing
> something excessively or incorrectly and being unable to stop') seems to
> me
> and others to better captured by the term ERRATIVE, commonly used
> elsewhere
> in Athapaskan.
> Obviously, there ought to be an ISA -- if, who knows?, there isn't one
> already.
> Frans Plank


Paul J. Hopper
Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of the Humanities
Department of English
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
Tel. 412-683-1109
Fax 412-268-7989

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