The Meaning of Particle / Prefix Constructions in German

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This is really two books in one: a valuable reference resource, and a groundbreaking case study that represents a new approach to constructional semantics. It presents a detailed descriptive survey, using extensive examples collected from the Internet, of German verb constructions in which the expressions <i>durch</i> (‘through’), <i>über</i> (‘over’), <i>unter </i>(‘under’), and <i>um</i> (‘around’) occur either as inseparable verb prefixes or as separable verb particles. Based on that evidence, the author argues that the prefixed verb constructions and particle verb constructions themselves have meaning, and that this meaning involves subjective construal processes rather than objective information. The constructions prompt us to distribute focal attention according to patterns that can be articulated in terms of Talmy’s notion of “perspectival modes”. Among the other topics that play an important role in the analysis are incremental themes, reflexive trajectors, fictive motion, “multi-directional paths”, and “accusative landmarks”.

Subjects: Semantics; Cognition and language; Theoretical linguistics; Syntax

  • Affiliations: 1: Loyola University New Orleans

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