Verb-particle constructions in Romance: A lexical-syntactic account

Jaume Mateu 1  and Gemma Rigau 2
  • 1 Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Centre de Lingüística Teòrica).
  • 2 Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Centre de Lingüística Teòrica).


In this paper, we deal with some important differences between Romance verb particle constructions and Germanic ones. Despite claims to the contrary (Iacobini & Masini, Morphology 16: 155–188, 2007), we argue that Romance languages (Italian included) consistently obey the Talmian generalization that non-directional manner verbs do not coappear with non-adjunct paths in Romance. We relate this generalization to the important restriction that those verbs that enter into verb-particle constructions in Romance encode or involve Path (e.g., It. Gianni è entrato dentro lit. ‘Gianni entered inside’; Gianni è corso via ‘Gianni ran away’; Gianni ha lavato via la macchia ‘Gianni washed the stain away’); crucially, unlike Germanic, Romance does not allow verb-particle constructions where the verb encodes or involves pure manner (John danced away; John worked his debts off). We use Haugen's (Lingua 119: 242–262, 2009) syntactic distinction between Incorporation and Conflation to draw some relevant syntactic differences between Romance and Germanic verb-particle constructions: those ones formed via Incorporation are possible in Romance, while those ones formed via Conflation/Compounding are only possible in Germanic.

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Probus is a platform for the discussion of historical and synchronic research in the field of Latin and Romance linguistics, with special emphasis on phonology, morphology, syntax, language acquisition and sociolinguistics. The journal encourages problem-oriented contributions that combine the solid empirical foundations of philological and linguistic work with the insights provided by modern theoretical approaches.