(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Salmoneus
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

"believe in" is a verb.

It's semantically entirely different from "believe" itself, and the meaning can't be predicted from the sum of its parts. Meanwhile, "believe" can't generally take prepositional phrases as objects other than with "in". [I guess you might be able to say "believe with me", but only marginally]

The combination of the syntax ('believe' doesn't generally take prepositional objects, so 'in God' is less likely to be one here) and the semantics (the meaning of 'believe in' can't be deduced from 'believe' and 'in', hence it is more likely to be worth considering as an independent unit) make this one a relatively clear-cut case, in my opinion.


The one flaw in that that springs to mind is that 'in' can't readily be converted into an adverb as is the case with many phrasal verbs:
"I broke up the Lego house" > "I broke the Lego house up"
"I believe in Longfellow" >/ !"I believe Longfellow in"

So it's certainly fair to say that "believe in" is not quite the same as these phrasal verbs.


But in general it's probably a mistake to think about this in terms of whether X is is a Y or a Z. As is almost always the case, this is a fundamentally meaningless question. X has some properties of Ys, and some of Zs; the question is what you happen to want to call it.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

The word in almost never appears in clause-final position in the first place .... that might be a reason why that construction does not occur. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in#Adverb suggests it occurs in set phrases rather than standing as an all-purpose adverbial use of the preposition.

German has a whole set of verbs with the prefix ein-, and that prefix is separable in at least some (maybe all?) of them. Makes me wonder if English ever had that, or if it was a German innovation. I cant think of any English verbs with in- that arent loans from Latin.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Pabappa wrote:
13 Jul 2020 13:27
The word in almost never appears in clause-final position in the first place .... that might be a reason why that construction does not occur. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/in#Adverb suggests it occurs in set phrases rather than standing as an all-purpose adverbial use of the preposition.

German has a whole set of verbs with the prefix ein-, and that prefix is separable in at least some (maybe all?) of them. Makes me wonder if English ever had that, or if it was a German innovation. I cant think of any English verbs with in- that arent loans from Latin.
Input and infill are the ones that spring to mind.

I don't think the first paragraph is an issue here. Sure, 'in' is less used as an adverb than some other adverbs, but it's still widely used in clause-final position with a transparent meaning, with almost any feasible verb, even ones that are barely verbs themselves. "I hammered it in", "I chucked it in", "He got roped in", "Let's pencil something in", "he dribbled it in", "she crowbarred it in", "our synergies are missing from this blue sky vision statement - so let's imagineer them in!", etc. - even "she threw the towel in", even though "throw in (the towel)" is a more common, lexicalised expression. And yet not "I believe it in". Well, more to the point: "I believe it in" IS just about valid, but STILL doesn't have the meaning we want! (it means 'believe that it is inside').

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

hmmm .... that's interesting. I was the one who wrote the usage notes on that Wiktionary page ... perhaps I need to modify it now. It seems it can be used when it's clear that it's a verb *and* it has a concrete meaning rather than abstract. But "a room with a rabbit in" is still wrong, and "i believe you in" is still wrong.

But theyre wrong for two different reasons .... "believe in" seems to be an indivisible whole, such that one can say "believe strongly in", "believe wholeheartedly in", etc where the intervening word modifies the expression, but it is wrong to say "i believe you in" where the intervening word stands alone.

re input & infill ... youre right about those as well, but i suspect they arose as nouns first since it is more common to jsut say "put in" & "fill in". and nouns with in- is a well established class. its also possible that put is not actually native since I dont believe in the existence of all these supposed PIE roots with /b/ whose only solid reflexes are Germanic words with /p/. but thats just an aside, since few speakers would be aware of that.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

Pabappa wrote:
13 Jul 2020 13:27
German has a whole set of verbs with the prefix ein-, and that prefix is separable in at least some (maybe all?) of them. Makes me wonder if English ever had that, or if it was a German innovation. I cant think of any English verbs with in- that arent loans from Latin.
I think you would enjoy Stefan Thim's Phrasal Verbs: The English Verb-Particle Construction and its History (2012). As an academic reviewer, Bert Cappelle, points out, the book is not so much an innovative investigation as a very critical assessment of the existing literature on the history of phrasal verbs (its "References" section goes on for 38 pages...), in which you will find Thim often getting into rants about how historical linguists and lexicographers in the 20th century have tended to uncritically accept 18th-century misguided prescriptivist commentary and to overlook studying the construction, yet nevertheless providing a good synthesis of the cumulative understanding of the topic.

In a nutshell, though, the answer is, yes, English had that, and in fact today's phrasal verbs are a continuation (not a replacement!) of the same old Germanic grammatical phenomenon that created the separable and inseparable prefixes of German. Basically, the particles were syntactically separable in Old English in a similar way to modern German's "separable prefixes" (anfangen ~ ich fange ... an), and aside from highly bleached modern instances like "to enlighten" (< PG *in-liuhtijanan, the kind of example you were looking for), "to understand" and "to forget" (< PWG *fragetan), the particles largely continued to survive in the form of the construction where they were used post-verbally, both in literal and idiomatic uses.

Something I like is that Thim points out some of today's particles (up, down, back, off) actually started being used in phrasal verbs in Early Middle English, at a time where they could still be prefixes, and that French borrowings were able to be used in the construction (use up, move in, branch out, pass away, break apart (taking over OE te- tŏ- along "asunder"), turn around (taking over OE ymb(e)-), sail across (along OE þurh > through), and even pleonasms like push forward, fall down, ME advaunce forward, ME retorne back).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Ser wrote:
14 Jul 2020 07:40
Basically, the particles were syntactically separable in Old English in a similar way to modern German's "separable prefixes" (anfangen ~ ich fange ... an), and aside from highly bleached modern instances like "to enlighten" (< PG *in-liuhtijanan, the kind of example you were looking for), "to understand" and "to forget" (< PWG *fragetan), the particles largely continued to survive in the form of the construction where they were used post-verbally, both in literal and idiomatic uses.
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".

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.

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.

Let's look at how each type has changed...

Weak particle verbs
Weak particle verbs were very common in OE. Some of them - and most of the prefixes - dated to the Proto-Germanic period. The meanings of the prefixes were often highly non-compositional: that is, the prefix altered the meaning of the verb, but not in a fixed and predictable way. Prefixed verbs were lexicalised and had often undergone semantic drift. The prefixes were in some cases no longer equivalent in form to the independent prepositions; some prefixes had no corresponding preposition anymore (such as ga-); and there wasn't necessarily a 1-to-1 correspondance between prepositions and prefixes (the prefixed forms of 'fram' and 'furi' largely merged with the prefix firi-, for which there was already no prepositional counterpart).

In Middle English, the great majority of these verbs disappeared, the prefixes almost all became non-productive, leaving only non-transparent relicts; even the productive prefixes (mis-, and to a lesser extent be-) became far less commonplace, and at first could not be used with loanwords.

Strong 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.


The traditional story is that one system eroded and was replaced by the other. Thim argues that no 'replacement' happened because a) the old system never entirely went away and the new system wasn't 100% new; and b) the two systems are philosophically different manifestations of the same system anyway. Both these arguments are probably true, but they don't really challenge the established facts, only the preferred narrative...


It is true that there was never a 100% distinction between the systems - even in OE, strong particles could sometimes be treated as though weak, and even after OE new phrasal verbs would sometimes be (and occasionally still are!) shifted over into the weak particle verb paradigm. [for instance, in Middle English "throw over" gained a new prefixal form, "overthrow", by analogy with "overwarp", which "overthrow" replaced]. However, this can largely be explained by analogy, and in OE by the general fluidity of word order.


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.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 20-m%20and

EDIT: Fixing URL

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Dormouse559 wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:39
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 2%2F%20and
Thank you!

I didn't think of Albanian. I need to study that language more.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by jimydog000 »

Dormouse559 wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:39
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 2%2F%20and
No one ever mentions Pbase ...?

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 »

jimydog000 wrote:
27 Jul 2020 00:51
No one ever mentions Pbase ...?
You just did, so strictly speaking, that statement is false. [:P]

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Khemehekis »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
29 Jul 2020 04:47
Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.
You're thinking of imasu (animate) and arimasu (inanimate).

Japanese also has a third BE verb, desu. It's like ser/soy (the copula).

Also, in German, the copula is always sein. The locative use of "to be" can be sein, but verbs like liegen (to lie) are more commonly used in such a situatuon.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by brblues »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
29 Jul 2020 04:47
Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.
Korean has 있다 (ittda) as locative copula (which can also be used to indicate possession) vs 이다 (ida) to express "noun=noun" constructions (not sure how to term them). For adjectival meanings, it does not need a copula, as they are expressed by stative verbs.

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Post by Ser »

I imagine most languages around the world, in fact the vast majority of them, have more than one basic verb to translate different key meanings of English 'to be'.


Portuguese and other Ibero-Romance languages have ser vs. estar too.

Mandarin uses 是 shì for noun = noun, noun = non-gradable stative verb, and noun = headless relative clause. It uses 很 hěn (in accents with many toneless syllables, also toneless hen) with gradable stative verbs, meaning literally 'very' but normally a plain grammatical word unless strongly stressed, and alternatively it can be replaced by a degree adverb. Note Mandarin stative verbs comprise most of the notions covered by adjectives in English. For locatives, 在 zài is used. The copulas are negated with the usual negator for statives, 不 bù.

Cantonese is much the same as Mandarin, 係 hai6 being the equivalent of 是 shì, 好 hou2 that of 很 hěn/hen (with similar semantic bleaching from 'very'), and 喺 hai2 that of 在 zài. The main difference is that the first word, when negated as 唔係 m4 hai6, is often phonologically reduced to 咪 mai6.

In Classical Chinese, to express noun = noun / headless relative clause, you use the construction NP + predicative + 也, where 也 (Mandarin yě, Cantonese yaa5, Middle Chinese jæ) is a sentence-final particle expressing a state with pragmatic focus. The described NP is optionally marked with a TOPIC particle such as 者 (M zhě, C je2, MC tsyæ). However, the copula 惟 (M wéi, C wai4, MC ywij) may optionally be used as well between the described NP and the predicative in positive statements, especially when a pronoun is involved. 非 (M fēi, C fei1, MC pjɨj) is the negative copula, used in the same position as 惟. For locatives, 在 (M zài, C joi6, MC dzoj) is used.

In Standard Arabic, كان kaana is used as the copula in the past and future. In the present tense, no copula is used in positive statements, but the verb ليس laysa supplies the negated present-tense copula. These copulas are used for all four of noun = noun, noun = adjective (and the adjective appears in the accusative case!), noun = headless relative clause, and locatives.



As an aside, you may find it interesting that older forms of English and Latin used a bare copula as an existential. Descartes' modified dictum, cōgitō ergō sum, means 'I ponder, therefore I exist' (where cōgitō is an intransitive verb meaning thinking repeatedly or thinking for a long time, cf. putō 'think (sth)', cēnseō/arbitror 'think sth in a judgemental way', sentiō 'think sth as a feeling rather intuitively'). Shakespeare's "to be or not to be" similarly means 'to exist or not to exist'. Mandarin/Cantonese/Classical Chinese use other verbs as existentials (有, 存, 存在), and Arabic uses its copulas with an adverbial place (هناك hunaaka 'there' by default to say 'there is an X'), or the participle موجود mawdʒuud 'found' as a predicative.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Once again, I suppose, English (or "SAE") is the exception, not the rule.

Yes, I was wondering how common it is for a language to have two or more copulas, two or more words translated as "to be" in English.

Thanks for the answers. [:)]

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Post by Salmoneus »

FWIW, Irish also has two forms - a verb 'to be' and a copula. The copula mostly seems used for noun=noun, but I'm not sure it's as simple as that.

Oh, and Old English has one verb, but with two different forms in the indicative present tense - one for the essential and one for the accidental/temporary/contingent senses.

-----------

Conceptually, there are at least three very distinct uses of "to be", with futher subtypes and borderline cases:

1. Equating one thing to another.

2. Ascribing a property to a thing.

3. Positing the existence of a thing.


Looking at #1, there's a couple of major semantic faultlines that can result in syntactic, morphological or lexical distinctions. Semantically, are the things in question individual items, or abstracts, or substances, or classes? [in real equation, both items will have to be in the same category]. And then grammatically, each item can be either a common noun [the dog], a proper noun [Bob] or a description [the thing eating your hat] - and here it's possible, even common, to identify a thing of one sort with a thing of another ("the thing eating your hat is my dog").

There's quite a big difference between "a columbine is an aquilegia" (identity of classes) and "Bob is the fourteenth president" (identity of proper name individual with modified common noun)! [note, for instance, that identity of classes in English uses the indefinite, whereas all other identities use the definite]

Then there's the big borderline case between #1 and #2: classification. When you say that X is not identical with Y, but is a member of the class of Y, I think European languages tend to see this as a form of equation; but it could also be treated as a form of predication. And even if it's treated as equation, it's still possible, probably even common, to somehow grammatically distinguish this from identification. [English does this simply by using [is the X] for identification and [is an X] for classification, but of course many languages don't have the luxury of articles!; Irish does have articles, but still decides to vary the syntax here just to be complicated...]

[and then there's the distinction English makes between [X is a Y] and [an X is a sort of Y]/[an X is a form of Y]]

And regarding identifications where one party is a description - what sort of descriptions are allowed?

And that's an even more pressing problem in #2. You can ascribe properties with adjectives, with relative clauses, or with prepositional phrases, and those prepositional phrases can be divided between those describing internal properties ("without his head", "in pain") and those describing extenal properties ("on the island", "under suspicion"), with the latter in turn being either physical or non-physical. [you can also of course ascribe properties using dummy nouns via a classification structure - "this is a big thing", rather than "this is big"].

And in the case of adjectives, you then have to worry about comparatives and superlatives.

Finally, even #3 isn't as simple as it looks. Saying that X exists is all well and good, but what does 'exists' mean? And 'saying'? I think we can easily distinguish a metaphysical claim ("God exists"), from a deictic claim ("There wasn't a cinema last time I went!"), a concessive or hypothetical positing ("What explanations have been offered for this? On the one hand, there's God..."), a defocused claim used to ascribe a property ("there's a wart on your face!"), and a narrative device ("so there was this bloke, right..."), and no doubt also others.


----

"To be" covers a very large functional and semantic space that cuts across a lot of distinctions that individual languages may find important; so it's no great surprise if other languages break that space up differently.


-----


Ser: I wouldn't quite call that "an older form of English", though the use is rare. There's a famous poem, for instance, with the first line "I am, but what I am none cares or knows" (in fact, the poem is called "I am"- and while this isn't exactly an everyday, colloquial thing to say, it also doesn't read to me as actively archaic (the syntax of the second clause is more old-fashioned that the first, I think). It wouldn't be that weird to hear some sort of motivation speaker saying something like "it's important to be willing to affirm your existence to the world, to say to the world "I exist! I am!"", or the like - it's unusual, but not specifically archaic, IMO. Or to hear someone say "The mountain doesn't worry about being this or being that - it simply is!". Part of it is just the rarity of having to make bare existential claims in the first place...

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
30 Jul 2020 07:42
Once again, I suppose, English (or "SAE") is the exception, not the rule.
As Salmoneus just said, it's natural and expected that this would be the case, since the English/French (not SAE) 'to be' includes so many basic key uses that languages may find it important to distinguish. So I would say it's true but a bit uninteresting.

Let's make an analogy with Chinese: "Once again, Chinese is the exception, not the rule, because Chinese varieties commonly have the word 會, Mandarin huì and Cantonese wui5, which is generally translated with more than one word elsewhere in the planet, e.g. English 'will' and 'would' and 'know how to', or in Arabic, ســ sa- and أجاد ʔadʒaada". It is true, but you could probably say this about most basic words with multiple meanings in any given language.
Salmoneus wrote:
30 Jul 2020 13:47
Conceptually, there are at least three very distinct uses of "to be", with futher subtypes and borderline cases:

1. Equating one thing to another.

2. Ascribing a property to a thing.

3. Positing the existence of a thing.
I think your classification is still missing what I termed "(used with) locatives" in my previous post, that is the use with adverbials of place, as in "My father is in the garden".
Ser: I wouldn't quite call that "an older form of English", though the use is rare.
I agree with you and I already thought as you do, but (as it often happens) I'm not exact with my words... I tend to think of such rare uses, which are practically just poetic or allusive of poetry or religious texts, as "old", even though technically they aren't old until they're honestly obsolete (except as surprising archaicisms on very rare occasions*).

* Like your beloved "lief" and "fain". By the way, some time after you told me about those, I found "fain" is attested only four times in the KJV, in Job 27:22, 1 Esdras 4:31 (the apocryphal book, not Ezra), 1 Maccabees 6:54, and Luke 15:16. "Lief", not even once.
Last edited by Ser on 30 Jul 2020 23:41, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Ser »

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:5.1.1.11 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 him ut þurhc wærse red (quoted in p. 108, source: "ChronE 276.12 [1140]")
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 wolde faran 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)

þa ahof Paulus up 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)

Aaron ahæfde 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'

þa wearp 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 16:10
Strong 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):

deofol-seocnessa ut to adrifanne
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)
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.

Evni Öpiu-sä
rupestrian
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Evni Öpiu-sä »

My newest and largest conlang's name is pronounced [ˈlɑnriuŋ] in the language. How is it spelled in English?
:fin: - C2
:eng: - ranges from A2 to B2
:swe: - ranges from A1 to A2

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