Date: Mon, 28 Feb 1994 09:33:14 EST


Subject: Re: "Fall" as transitive verb

The "Don't fall me down" occurring in child speech is part of a much broader

pattern in which causative formation is overgeneralized, leading to attested

examples like "Sing him the song" (meaning 'Make him sing the song') and my

personal favorite "I want to eat the baby" (meaning '...feed...', Freudian in-

terpretations to the contrary notwithstanding). I think Melissa Bowerman has a

lot to say about these. To the extent that 'fell' doesn't exist as a lexical

causative in a given adult or child idiolect, zero causative formation might

be expected to proceed, and evidently the form has become lexicalized in some

regions. (Since causative formation is not a productive rule in adult

language, at least with this semantic class, 'fall the tree' would no longer

occur unless there's been some lexicalization.) --Larry Horn