Morphosyntactic Change. A Comparative Study of Particles and Prefixes

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Morphosyntactic Change
A Comparative Study of Particles and Prefixes

Part of Cambridge Studies in Linguistics (Cambridge University Press)


• Bettelou Los, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
• Corrien Blom, Bureau Taal
• Geert Booij, University of Leiden
• Marion Elenbaas, University of Leiden
• Ans van Kemenade, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen


Particle verbs (combinations of two words but lexical units) are a notorious problem in linguistics. Is a particle verb like look up one word or two? It has its own entry in dictionaries, as if it is one word, but look and up can be split up in a sentence: we can say He looked the information up and He looked up the information. But why can’t we say He looked up it? In English look and up can only be separated by a direct object, but in Dutch the two parts can be separated over a much longer distance. How did such hybrid verbs arise and how do they function? How can we make sense of them in modern theories of language structure? This book sets out to answer these and other questions, explaining how these verbs fit into the grammatical systems of English and Dutch.


1. Separable complex verbs
2. The paradox of particle verbs
3. The synchronic analysis of Dutch SCVs
4. The diachronic analysis of Dutch SCVs
5. The lexical decomposition of present-day English verb-particle combinations
6. The diachrony of the English verb-particle combination
7. The diachrony of prefixes in West Germanic
8. Conclusions

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