crackers I am going

Geoffrey Haig haig at LINGUISTIK.UNI-KIEL.DE
Tue Jun 24 16:38:44 UTC 2008

Dear All

please delete my last mail, which confused a quite different message with
my intended contribution to this discussion - reproduced below; my

The fact we are presumably trying to explain here is why no regular
derivative of the German intransitive verb SPRINGEN 'crack' can readily be
combined with a human agent, while English CRACK (and its derivatives)
can. But in English too there is a restricted class of Change-of-State
verbs that display quite similar characteristics to German SPRINGEN, for
example verbs of natural processes such as DECAY, ERUPT, ROT, WILT,
EVAPORATE. An interesting word in this connection is FISSURE, which can be
used as an intransitive verb (according to Collins ED), but I find it
pretty well impossible  as a transitive verb. Judging by the previous
responses to Franz's query, the cross-language equivalents of CRACK are
generally conceptualized  along  similar lines to English FISSURE. Thus it
is not that German has "a gap"; rather it is English which is unusual in
not treating CRACK like a verb of natural process.The question is whether
this is an isolated fact about one lexical item, or whether it reflects
more fundamental differences in the way grammar and lexicon are  mapped
onto each other in different languages.

On German: it would be worth looking at similar words to SPRUNG in German
such as RISS and KNICK, which seem to me to behave somewhat differently.

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