Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Tue Jun 24 14:11:54 UTC 2008

Dear Everybody,

it seems to be so in my native Finnish as well -- that is, a crack in a
vase is something that can exist (noun, adjective, participle) or come
into being by itself (intransitive verb) but cannot be "caused", i.e.
expressed with a simple causation verb ("hitting something onto a
crack/hitting a crack into something" could be the most simple way of
expressing it in Finnish).

I had always thought that this (the lack of "father cracked the vase") has
something to do with the general antipathy Finnish seems to have towards
ambitransitive verbs -- transitive causation verbs and intransitive
("translative") verbs are very often clearly distinguished by derivation,
and the lack of transitive "cracking" could just be another sporadic
productivity gap in the formation of transitive/causative verbs. But then,
German does have a lot of ambitransitive verbs...

What other states than being cracked are there that behave in the same
way? Could this have something to do with cracks inherently being
something spontaneous rather than results of conscious causation?

Johanna Laakso

On Di, 24.06.2008, 15:52, David Gil wrote:
> Frans and everybody,
> Hebrew has the same gap!  I thought I was imagining it, so I
> doublechecked with another native speaker of Hebrew, who almost cracked
> up in surprise when realizing that you couldn't say "Father cracked the
> vase" in Hebrew.
> David
> --
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
> Email: gil at
> Webpage:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Universität Wien
EVSL Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalg. 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at ||

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list