Whiz & names (UNCLASSIFIED)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 26 15:23:53 UTC 2007

At 7:10 AM -0400 9/26/07, Dennis Preston wrote:
>I have "take" + any defecation/urination word, and I am aware of
>baby-talk (i.e., caregivers to very young children) "make" in the
>same function - "Do you have to make pee-pees?," in which the further
>oddity of 'pee-pee' as a count noun appears. If you "took whizzes,"
>they would be independent occurrences.
>The selection of semantically depleted verbs (ones where you must
>wait for the noun to see what is going on) is a very interesting
>topic. Although learners of 2nd lgs always attend to it (you "have"
>hunger in Spanish and German for example but "are hungry" in English
>and Polish), I don't know of any good crosslinguistic list of these
>items, but they're fascinating. Notice, for example, how the
>historical verb "dream" becomes a noun and then disqualifies itself
>by redundancy in "dream a dream" (although "dream a very pleasant
>dream" or any other interruptive seems to make cognate verb-object
>constructions OK).

I wouldn't be so hasty with this claim.  "I dreamed a dream" alone
has 165,000 ghits; I looked it up because I know at least two songs
containing that line.  While many of these hits reference one or
another such song lines I would imagine the cognate object
construction is not that hard to find in spoken rather than sung
English.  (There are also many hits for "he dreamed a dream (last
night)" and such.

>Once "have" steps into this role, then it can be
>used with "nightmare," which has no status as a verb at all.
>I'd certainly be interested in seeing a crosslinguistic study of
>these cognate verb-noun constructions. Has there been any work on
>PS: I know Wilson, you can "walk the walk" and "talk the talk," so
>don't give (make) that speech.
>PPS: Notice how "sing the song" is OK because of the phonetic dissimilarity.

There's also "danced a dance"--faute de mieux, since we don't have
"do/make/have a dance".  These redundancies are in general much
better than, say,

*She is eyed (vs. {blue/brown/green}-eyed)
*an eyed man (vs. a one-eyed/brown-eyed man)
*He is haired

--where the unmodified form is not only predictable but ungrammatical.


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