Student or Learner
can anyone tell me more about the semantic continuum of English phrasal verbs (their meaning)
To me the semantic continuum of phrasal verbs means the progression from what we might call non-phrasal verb constructions to full-blown phrasal verbs:
1. As I came in to the room, Mary looked up.
2. As a child, I always looked up to my older sister.
3a. I’ll look you up when I am next in town.
3b. I had to look up ‘continuum’ in my dictionary.
In #1, the words ‘look’ and ‘up’ retain their literal meanings. I doubt if anybody would consider the underlined words to be an example of a phrasal verb.
In #2, the words have taken on a metaphorical meaning. The ‘Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000) considers ‘look up to’ (= admire/respect) to be a phrasal verb.
In #3a and b, we have moved some way from the literal meanings of ‘look’ and ‘up’. These are what I have called ‘full-blown’ phrasal verbs.
This continuum is similar to that of Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999): Literal, Aspectual and Idiomatic Phrasal Verbs
Some writers class such constructions as ‘look at’ (= turn your eyes towards) and go in(to) (= enter) as phrasal verbs. If you agree with such a classification, then you would presumably have a new category 2; and 3a and b would become 4a and b.
Some writers, e.g. Carter and McCarthy (2006), class as prepositional verbs those which “consist of a verb and a preposition which are closely linked with each other’. Their examples include such verbs as ‘deal’ with, which Sinclair (1990) considers to be a phrasal verb. These would presumably come immediately after my #1.
Another personal view is that of Phil White: "The whole issue of multi-word verbs is, however, fraught, and there seems to me to be a continuum between phrasals, prepositional verbs and verb + preposition combinations, with the borderlines subject to blurring."
Carter, Ronald & McCarty, Michael (2006) Cambridge Grammar of English, Cambridge: CUP
Celce-Murcia, Marianne and Larsen- Freeman, Diane (1999) The Grammar Book, Second Edition, Boston, Mass: Heinle & Heinle.
Sinclair, John [Editor-in-Chief] (1990) Collins Cobuild English Grammar, London: HarperCollins
Wehmeier, Sally [Editor] (2000); Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary: Oxford: OUP
White, Phil: Posting on: wordwizard.com - View topic - Separating prepositions from verbs
References to a continuum of opaqueness in: http://acl.ldc.upenn.edu/W/W03/W03-1810.pdf
The gradability of idiomaticity in: Verbal idioms in focus - towards the continuum of idiomatic expressions. (Linguistics). - Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies | HighBeam Research - FREE trial