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Immobile Complex Verbs in Germanic

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  • Department of English

Certain complex verbs in Dutch, German, and Swiss German do not undergo verb movement. The suggestion to be made in this article is that these ‘‘immobile'' verbs have to fulfill both the requirements imposed on complex verbs of the V° type (=verbs with non-separable prefixes) and the requirements imposed on complex verbs of the V* type (=verbs with separable prefixes). This results in such verbs being morphologically unexceptional, i.e., having a full set of forms but syntactically peculiar (‘‘immobile''), i.e., they can only occur in their base position. Any movement is incompatible with either the V° requirements or the V* requirements.

Haider (1993, p. 62) and Koopman (1995), who also discuss such immobile verbs, only account for verbs with two prefix-like parts (e.g., German uraufführen ‘to perform (a play) for the first time' or Dutch herinvoeren ‘to reintroduce'), not for the more frequent type with only one prefix-like part (e.g., German bauchreden/Dutch buikspreken ‘to ventriloquize').

This analysis will try to account not only for the data discussed in Haider (1993) and Koopman (1995) but also for the following:

- why immobile verbs include verbs with only one prefix-like part (and why this single prefix-like part may NOT be a particle),

- why immobile verbs even include verbs with two prefix-like parts, where each of these are separable particles (as in, e.g., German voranmelden ‘preregister'),

- why there is such a great amount of speaker variation as to which verbs are immobile,

- why such verbs are not found in Germanic VO-languages such as English and Scandinavian.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics
Volume8
Issue1-2
Pages (from-to)83-115
Number of pages33
ISSN1383-4924
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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