Salmoneus wrote: ↑14 Jul 2020 16:10
This isn't really true, and I'm not sure Thim actually claims it is. Thim's differences from... well, everybody else on the planet, it seems... actually appear to be more about rhetoric and strawmen than about what actually happened - Thim is anxious to defend phrasal verbs as pure and Germanic, against those who argue that they are imported, and while he's right that they're not just imported, his "continuation" is pretty much the same as everyone else's "replacement".
Salmoneus wrote: ↑14 Jul 2020 16:10
Thim's continuity hypothesis appears to consist of two claims, neither of which anybody I think denies: later phrasal verbs continue the same structure as the old strong particle verbs; and the difference between strong and weak particle verbs can largely be explained by assuming that weak particles were unstressed (hence tended to cliticise) while strong particles were stressed (hence tended not to) [when OE was SOV, all particles preceded the verb; when the verb increasingly came to be fronted, unstressed particles came with it, while stressed particles were left in situ]. Thus, the two systems can be conceptually regarded as one system with different values for a variable. [Indeed, there are a few examples in the literature of particles that could be treated as variably strong OR weak, so it wasn't two completely distinct systems at any time]. Thus, phrasal verbs are a continuation of the OE system. And indeed, OE-style weak particle verbs are still (sort of) productive. So nothing has changed.
However, while it may be true that in some strictly philosophical
sense, nothing has changed, this should not distract from the fact that, in practical terms, everything has changed.
I think you're right and I'm wrong here. When I wrote "Basically, the particles were syntactically separable in Old English in a similar way to modern German's "separable prefixes" (anfangen ~ ich fange ... an)", I both confusingly said what I actually meant while also misportraying what OE was like and what Thim claims (due to not reading Thim correctly).
What I meant to say is that OE was like
(not the same as) German in having both unstressed "inseparable" prefixes that attach at the beginning of the verb wherever it is, and stressed "separable" particles that can appear before or after the verb with some sensitivity to syntactic context, but which do not exhibit the strict regularity and German, or the degree of separation between verb and adverbial particle that that language often shows. (More on this below, after I quote you again.)
Meanwhile, Thim's argumentation of modern English phrasal verbs as descending from Old English and in fact, further so, Pre-English, is a criticism of those who argue they were imported from Scandinavian, and also, more importantly, those who have apparently argued it is a new phenomenon peculiar to English, whether those people say they were imported from Scandinavian or are an internal innovation. (I don't think he's particularly anxious to show that they're "pure" and Germanic, as at some point he mentions their use in e.g. late Middle English to calque some Latin verbs.) A lot of the later part of the book also attacks 18th-century prescriptivists' attitude against phrasal verbs, who tended to prefer Latinisms and to portray phrasal verbs as "colloquial" when they actually hadn't been, an attitude apparently still reflected in some recent works...
I don't really know whether Thim's criticisms are fair or strawmen because I don't know the literature, but I just checked Burnley's chapter in The Cambridge History of the English Language, vol. 2 1066-1476
, which Thim criticizes in §4.2.2, and in his
case it seems surprisingly fair:
Burnley 1992: pp. 422-3 wrote:188.8.131.52 Further effects of incomplete bilingualism were felt in terms of semantic shift and in word formation, and will be discussed below; and it is probably to the influence of Scandinavian that we owe two important characteristics of Modern English phrase structure: the common recourse to particled verbs (Denison 1985c), and the extensive use of the verbal operator get. The earliest record of the extensive use of verb+preposition/adverb colligations as phrasal verbs on the model of Old Norse is in the Peterborough Chronicle: gyfen up (probably with Scandinavian initial /g/), faren mid, leten up, and tacen to.
Thim complains that here and later in his chapter, Burnley doesn't mention the connection to the existing verb + particle construction in Old English (i.e. your "strong particle verbs"), as if the ultimate origin of phrasal verbs was calques of Scandinavian... Note that the Peterborough Chronicle is from the 12th century, so arguably a work in early Middle English even. He mentions it also contradicts the forward-looking comments of the equivalent Old English chapter in volume 1 of the series (written by another author who had a better understanding of the history of phrasal verbs).
On the other hand, I checked if Momma and Matto's one-volume A Companion to the History of the English Language
(2008), published four years before Thim's book, would say something about phrasal verbs, and while I found they do not discuss them in prose, there's a table of important syntactic changes in page 62 that very clearly links the modern phrasal verbs to OE syntax, which I here reproduce in list form:
Momma and Matto 2008: 62 wrote:Phrasal Verbs:
Old English - position of particle: both pre- and postverbal
Middle English - great increase; position particle: postverbal
Modern English - idem
...which shows some linguists at least clearly present the history of phrasal verbs in a way Thim would like.
Salmoneus wrote: ↑14 Jul 2020 16:10
So far as I'm aware, Old English did not actually have separable prefixes. What it did have was two different, parallel compounding systems, which we might (plucking terms out of the air for convenience) weak and strong particle verbs.
Weak particle verbs saw an particle affixed onto the verb, and follow the verb wherever it went.
Strong particle verbs saw a particle linked to but separate from the verb, but still usually adjacent to it.
Funnily, Thim complains at various points about the use of the term "compounding" to characterize the strong particle verbs, but that's more of a philosophical concern.
I'm not familiar at all with Old English to qualify his data in any way, but he provides some interesting examples where the strong particle/adverb is not so adjacent:
& efsones let
þurhc wærse red (quoted in p. 108, source: "ChronE 276.12 ")
and soon.after let him out through worse advice
'and soon after, on worse advice, he let him out'
(likely not worth mentioning because that's just a clitic pronoun, but anyway...)
ær he ut
to gefeohte (quoted in p. 106, source: "Or 232.4")
before he out wanted to.go to fight
'before he wanted to go out to the fight'
(idem, because it's just an auxiliary verb)
his heafod (quoted in p. 107, source: "BlHom 187.35")
there raised Paul up his head
'Paulus raised his head'
(this V2 example is much better)
his hand upp
on gebedum (quoted in p. 178, source: "ÆLS (Pr Moses)")
'Aaron raised his hand up in prayers'
þæt he wearp
þæt sweord onweg
þæt he on handa hæfde (quoted in p. 108, source: "Bede 38.20")
that he threw that sword away, that he on hand had
'...that he threw the sword away, the one he had in his hand'
se broðor þæt glæsene fæt ut
(quoted in p. 181, source: "ÆCHom II, 11 104.25")
then cast the brother that glass-y barrel out
'then the brother cast out the glass barrel'
(could this use of "throw sth out" meaning "cast sth" be considered idiomatic, i.e. non-transparent? Thim mentions it as an example of non-transparent usage)
Thim provides an interesting description of the sensitivity of strong particle verbs to their context to determine verb-particle order. In general, the particle tends to be on the side of a direct object, so when there is or would be VO there's also verb+particle order, and where there's OV there's also particle+verb object. Then when the VO verb+particle order is used, the particle doesn't need to be adjacent anymore either (examples above: in a main clause, "Aaron ahæfde
his hand upp
on gebedum", in a subclause "...þæt he wearp
þæt sweord onweg
The pattern is particularly strong in OV subordinate clauses. Thim comments: "In subordinate [verb-final] clauses [...] Hiltunen (1983a: 116) finds only four instances with a postposed particle in his sizeable corpus. But of these one is not V-F [i.e. verb-final] (his example 15), one involves the adverb togædere (his example 17), which had perhaps better be not classified as a part of a verb-particle construction, and in the remaining two the particle is followed by a prepositional phrase, which might be a special case anyway."
That said, he also notes the particle+verb order is also found in spite of the use of VO with some frequency ("...þæt heo onweg adyde
þa gemynd" '...that he [away] removed
the memory', Bede 154.10, quoted in p. 109), which is then the main exception to the above pattern. And he further mentions that nevertheless all sorts of other minor, much more uncommon word orders are also attested in texts.
Regarding intransitives and particle adjacency, in p. 5 he gives an example of an idiomatic (non-transparent) strong particle verb, forþ fēran 'to go forth; pass by; die, pass away', in both the V2+particle order (coordinated, with subject understood) and the V2+subject+particle order:
& ferde forþ on his weig 'and went forth on his way'
& fere se ceorl forð 'and if the man dies'
Salmoneus wrote: ↑14 Jul 2020 16:10Strong particle verbs
Strong particle verbs existed in OE, but only barely. They were vastly less common than weak particle verbs. Unlike weak particle verbs, they were almost entirely transparent in meaning, and seem still to have been created productively, almost ad hoc (many of the combinations are low-frequency, suggesting the writer just came up with them to suit, rather than them forming a fixed stock of vocabulary). Only a few particles were found in these constructions, and they were almost always directional particles used in a plainly directional sense.
In Middle English, these constructions exploded in popularity. More particles were used, and they tended to develop aspectual meanings, and in general to become less semantically transparent.
Salmoneus wrote: ↑14 Jul 2020 16:10
When I say that OE didn't have separable verbs, I mean in the German sense of a particle that is independent in one word order but prefixed in another. However, strong particle verbs did still have a particle+verb word order when the verb was backed, so they resembled a separable verb - except that the prefix was stressed and independent, and retained a transparent meaning, unlike German separable verbs.
There are two ideas here, that OE strong particle verbs had transparent meaning and that they were uncommon or even non-existent, that Thim posits a caveat against.
Regarding that they were uncommon or non-existent, he deplores what he sees as an excessive influence of Arthur Kennedy's The Modern English verb-adverb combination
(1920), apparently because Kennedy didn't make the distinction you make of weak vs. strong particle verbs, counting all pre-verbal particles as "weak" and not bothering with post-verbal ones:
Thim 2012: 119 wrote:In Old English he [i.e. Arthur Kennedy] counts very few separable combinations as opposed to a high number of inseparable ones, and in Middle English the overall number of separable combinations (i.e. phrasal verbs) seems to remain rather low, but an assessment of the situation is difficult, he states, because of the French lexical influence and because of the differences in text types. [...]
Kennedy’s account of the rise of the phrasal verbs is seriously flawed by the fact that all constructions with a particle or a prefix in preverbal position are counted as ‘compounds’ while only those instances where the particle is in postposition are counted as ‘verb-adverb combinations’; he concludes that in Old English “occurrences of the verb-adverb combination are practically nil” (Kennedy 1920: 12). That is to say, the post-verbal position of the particle is quite ahistorically taken as an unchanging characteristic of the construction. As a result, Kennedy’s discussion creates the impression that the phrasal verb is a new phenomenon in English and something specific to this language alone, i.e. that there is a ‘rise’ of the phrasal verb from the Middle English period onwards. To take just one prominent example (among very many others) of the popular afterlife of such notions: Burchfield (Fowler 1996, s.v. phrasal verb) states that the “earliest example known to me is to give up ‘to surrender’, which is recorded in 1154 ... [t]he type thrived in the centuries that followed”.
I don't know what Thim means by Kennedy taking post-verbal particles as "an unchanging characteristic", but if Kennedy really said the verb-adverb combinations were "practically nil", that seems like a lamentable oversight. Again, I don't know whether that quote from Burchfield is a fair representative of "very many others" or not. Thim also expresses suspicion that Old English strong particle verbs have tended to be understudied by lexicographers in particular, to some extent as an influence of Kennedy's book, and that some grammar-minded linguists have then also overrelied on lexicographers' work.
Regarding their attestation with only or almost only transparent meaning, Thim does grant that "non-spatial, non-compositional" (i.e. non-transparent) meanings are "slower to emerge" (p. 5), that "the vast majority of particle tokens in Old English will have been spatial" (p. 181), and that when a non-transparent candidate is found it's hard to tell whether it was truly non-transparent or not, but also says that there are clearly a few such verbs (forþ (ge)fēran 'to die' as mentioned above, noting that the with the synonym gān 'to go', forþ gān is not used in the sense of 'to die'), and that the "critical context" for the metonimy is also found in OE already (also p. 181):
devil-sickness out to drive
'to drive out the devil-sickness' (source: "Mk 3.15", no hyphen in "deofolseocnessa" in Thim p. 181)
& lett agan ut
hu fela hundred hyda wæron innon þære scire (quoted in p. 181, source: "ChronE 1085.26")
and let own out
how many hundred hides were inside the shire
‘and let [them] find out [i.e. discover, learn] how many hundreds of hides were in the shire’
Please note I'm mostly quoting all this stuff for you guys' amusement more than anything else. Thim also has some section I found fascinating about Gothic (but irrelevant for this post). I'm not a fanboy of Thim's going all out to defend him at all costs, as I'm not him. (stupid pun intended)