Forthcoming: Particle verbs in Italian
This monograph investigates structural aspects of Italian particle verbs, a
grammatical phenomenon that has attracted interest from a variety of research threads in the last decade. By means of a scrutiny of lexical, syntactic, semantic, argument-structural and prosodic properties of both the verb-particle unit and the particle in a wide range of constructions, new light is shed on crucial issues like the categorial status of the particle, the interaction of verb and particle at argument structure and the structural cohesion displayed by verb and particle in constituency. The proposed analysis is couched in the architecture of Lexical-Functional Grammar, and is motivated by a systematic comparison between Italian on the one hand and Germanic languages like English, German and Swedish on the other. The results of the investigation bear relevance to a classic problem of verb-particle constructions, namely whether they are a product of syntactic or morphological structure building. It is argued that Italian particle verbs are not represented as single words at any level of grammatical representation where the concept of “word” is relevant. In particular, they qualify as syntactic, and not as morphological structures. This, in turn, suggests that the properties of Italian particle verbs do not provide a strong argument in favor of approaches advocating the existence of a continuum between morphology and syntax instead of their representation as separate components.