Nicole Dehé
The optimal placement of 'up' and 'ab': A comparison.
In: Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 8 (2005): 185-224.

The particle verb construction (PVC), also referred to in the literature as phrasal verb or separable complex verb, occurs in most if not all of the Germanic languages. The work presented here deals with a comparison of the transitive PVC in English and German. In English, the construction occurs in two alternating word orders (They called off the concert vs. They called the concert off ). In German, on the other hand, only one order is possible (Sie sagten das Konzert ab vs.
*Sie sagten ab das Konzert; *Sie absagten das Konzert). The central question is why this kind of word order alternation is possible in a language with otherwise relatively strict word order, such as English, but not in a related language such as German, which is otherwise freer in its constituent ordering, allowing, e.g., for scrambling. In this article, the pattern is explained in terms of (the ranking of) violable universal constraints from different modules of the grammar. I introduce a PVC-related syntactic constraint which punishes particle pied-piping. I argue that it is the rank of this constraint with respect to a number of prosodic constraints that is responsible for the variation between English and German.


[back]