Beyond dichotomies : on the nature and classification of compound verbs in English


  • Alexandra Bagasheva Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski



Beyond dichotomies, on the nature and classification of compound verbs in English


The study of compound verbs in English poses numerous problems, among which even their recognition as compounds on grounds of their derivation. Resulting from at least three different word-formation patterns, compound verbs constitute a heterogeneous class of complex lexemes. Their status as actual compound lexemes invites the differentiation between compounding as a word-formation process and compounds as a special class of lexemes. Even within the latter, compound verbs display marked properties at least in relation to the inability of standard classifications of compounds to capture and compromise their lexical uniformity and their heterogeneous origin. The adoption of a position in which it is argued that compound verbs in English constitute a constructional idiom and the application of scalar analytical notions which combine word-formationist and lexical-semantic accounts cast in the general framework of the cognitive linguistic enterprise yield informative generalizations concerning the linguistic and conceptual properties of compound verbs in English. In view of Radden and Dirven's (2007: 41-46) claim that we do not need "more than two basic types of conceptual units things and relations" in order to establish linguistically relevant conceptual distinctions, compound verbs pose a problem for neat dichotomous treatment as they very often both conceptually and in terms of form include a "thing" (e.g. to flat-hunt, to house-sit, to fellow-feel, to case-harden, etc.) and thus come closer to a "situation" than to a "relation". Exactly because of the fact that compound verbs profile/perspectivize "situations" as "relations", they function as special construal mechanisms and as such do not fit the subordinate/coordinate distinction, because they name situations. In view of the above the paper treats compound verbs as a constructional idiom whose analysis necessitates the recognition of the role of conceptual conversion mechanisms, scalar classificatory and interpretative criteria and uniform lexico-semantic treatment.


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31. 12. 2011

How to Cite

Bagasheva, A. (2011). Beyond dichotomies : on the nature and classification of compound verbs in English. Linguistica, 51(1), 39-63.