Multi-word Verbs in Early Modern English

A Corpus-based Study


The topic of this book fits in with the recently growing interest in phraseology and fixedness in English. It offers a description of multi-word verbs in the language of the 17th and 18th centuries, an important formative period for Modern English. For the first time, multi-word verbs are treated together as a group, as it is argued that phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, phrasal-prepositional verbs, verb-adjective combinations and verbo-nominal combinations share defining characteristics. These characteristics are also reflected in similar possibilities of usage, in particular the subtle modification of verbal meaning and these verbs' potential for topicalization structures, both leading to a greater expressiveness.
Using a new text collection, the Lampeter Corpus of Early Modern English Tracts (1640-1740), the study provides a description of the multi-word verb types found, their syntactic behaviour, and their semantic structure. The composition of the corpus also allowed the examination of the development of these verbs over time and in different registers. The corpus study is supplemented by an investigation of attitudes towards multi-word verbs with the help of contemporary works on language, leading to a more speculative discussion of the factors influencing the choice between multi-word and simplex verbs.

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1. Introduction: Aims and Scope of the Study
2. The Lampeter Corpus of Early Modern English Tracts
3. Multi-word Verbs as a Group
4. Categories of Multi-word Verbs
5. History of Multi-word Verbs
6. Patterns of the Past: Multi-word Verbs in the Lampeter Corpus
7. Frequencies and Tendencies
8. Attitudes and Alternatives
9. Making a Choice
10. Conclusion
Appendices (lists of all multi-word verbs found)