Publication details [#5527]

Hampe, Beate. 2002. Superlative Verbs: A Corpus-based Study of Semantic Redundancy in English Verb-Particle Constructions. Tübingen: Gunter Narr. 274 pp.


This book focuses on a special kind of verb-particle constructions (finish up, start off, broaden out, cool down, trigger off, etc.), which have been labelled 'redundant' in traditional analyses because, in many contexts, the particles appear superfluous or void of meaning. Though redundant phrasal verbs are relatively infrequent and highly marked, they are not as marginal as the frequency data suggest since such constructions occur systematically with many English verbs. On the basis of an extensive corpus study, and by reviewing the phenomenon from three different theoretical perspectives (objectivist semantics, functionalism, cognitive semantics), this study uncovers semantic and pragmatic functions of the particles. It is demonstrated that these are neither 'void of meaning' nor 'superfluous' if analyses are widened to include functional and cognitive aspects. Vice versa, the results of the analyses also provide the basis for a comparison of the explanatory power and efficiency of the linguistic models employed. (Beate Hampe)