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Fixer-uppers. Reduplication in the derivation of phrasal verbs

From the book Exact Repetition in Grammar and Discourse

  • Anke Lensch


Generally, it has been assumed that repetition and reduplication are largely absent from the morphological systems of British and American English. However, as the results of a large-scale corpus analysis presented in this paper show, -er nominalizations of phrasal verbs, which involve the two-fold attachment of the derivational suffix, are more pervasive than previously expected (Chapman 2008: 265). Indeed, the verb-er+particle-er pattern, as exemplified in cheerer-upper (The Guardian 1999) or filler-inner (Detroit Free Press 1993), is accounted for in a wide array of phrasal verb nominalizations. Thus, this study shows that English does allow for an “affix reduplication phenomenon” (McIntyre 2013: 44). Furthermore, the data points to a noteworthy difference between British and American English in that the former displays a larger number of hapax legomena but has a lower token frequency of the pattern. In the American English data, by contrast, the token frequency of the pattern is higher, which suggests that it is more established in this variety.

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