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Expressive particle verbs and conditions on particle fronting1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2016

Stanford University
University of California, San Diego
Author’s address: Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, 210 Panama Street, Stanford, CA 94305-4115,
Author’s address: Department of Linguistics, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0108,


In this paper, we propose a new distinction between expressive and non-expressive particle verbs in German. The basic observation for our proposal is that these two classes behave differently in the domain of particle fronting. In order to explain this difference, we will show that certain particle verbs are extreme degree expressions and that, therefore, a possible contrast across degrees makes fronting acceptable, even when the particle in isolation is non-contrastable. Our claims are supported by a rating study probing German native speakers’ intuitions about the likelihood of the occurrence of an utterance, without relying on acceptability judgments. We connect these new findings to other forms of non-information-structural fronting patterns that endow utterances with an emphatic flavor.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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[1] This article has benefited from discussion with Farrell Ackerman, Josef Bayer, Silvio Cruschina, Werner Frey, Joachim Jacobs, and Stefano Quaglia. We thank three anonymous JL referees and Ewa Jaworska for their careful comments. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG grants BA 1178/9-1 and TR 1228/2-1) and from the DFG Excellence Initiative (University of Konstanz, project No. 610/14).


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