Particles and particle-verb constructions in English and other Germanic languages

Larsen, Darrell
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University of Delaware
This dissertation examines the lexical semantics of particles and the syntax of particles and particle-verb constructions. I argue against the notion that there are distinct types of particles (e.g. resultative versus idiomatic versus aspectual), claiming instead that they are semantic predicates consisting of an often metaphorical spatial meaning and, with a few exceptions, an unpronounced Ground argument. As a result, particle verbs are argued to be semantically compositional. The syntactic behavior of particle verbs is primarily explained through the adoption of the following major claims: (i) particles are optionally projecting syntactic heads whose topmost projection merges with a verbal head to form either a complex head or a resultative-like structure; (ii) nonprojecting particles (which combine with verbs to form complex heads) remain in situ, the verb raising out of the complex via phonological head movement; and (iii) objects raise to receive Case by LF, but they may do so overtly or covertly. These claims are shown to account for the behavior of the particle-verb construction when interacting with a wide range of other phenomena. The adoption of a further claim--(iv) ECM subjects of small-clauses preferably or obligatorily (depending on the speaker) raise out of the small clause overtly, whereas ECM subjects of IPs need not--is then shown to be able to explain the pattern of grammaticality and acceptability judgments encountered in the so-called 'complex' particle-verb constructions. Finally, the ability of particle verbs to undergo various word-formation processes is considered within the context of these theoretical assumptions.