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A phonotactic link between strong verbs and function words in English

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Abstract

In ‘Vowel + consonant and consonant + vowel sequences in the strong verbs of German and English’ (Cahiers Ferdinand de Saussure 1995–1996/49:139–63) I showed that the vowel + consonant sequences (VCs) and the consonant + vowel sequences (CVs) of the English strong verbs tend to occur only on the strong verbs, not on weak verbs, and hence serve as phonotactic markers of strong conjugation. In this paper I adduce data which show that the English strong verb VCs (though not the CVs) have an unexpectedly high rate of occurrence—72%—in monosyllabic function words such as prepositions and pronouns. Thus a formal, phonotactic link has been established between strong verbs and function words in English. The same tendency has been demonstrated for the strong verbs of German and the non-productive verbs of Russian. The pattern revealed points towards the possibility of finding rules for the formation of strong verbs and a separate meaning—perhaps aspectual—for them, different to that of the weak verbs.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-93
Number of pages13
JournalWord
Volume2006/57
Issue number2-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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