Page images
PDF
EPUB

about 'to happen,' crack up 'to extol,' dig out 'to depart,' do up ‘to exhaust,' dry up 'to be silent,' fall out 'to disagree,' fix over 'to repair,' fuss up 'to adorn oneself,' get over 'to recover,' give out 'to become exhausted,' go off 'to explode,' hold on 'to stop,' keep on 'to continue,' let on 'to pretend,' make out 'to understand,' pass up 'to ignore,' play out ‘to become exhausted,' put up with ‘to tolerate,' take off to imitate,' etc.

4. The objection of the purist that in many instances the particle is unnecessary or, as it has been characterized, parasitical, does seem to be more or less justifiable in some cases. And yet I should hesitate to name a single combination as an example of redundancy since I believe that the speaker almost always feels a nice distinction even tho his sense of the logical tells him that the particle should be quite unnecessary. The particle has been added in the first place to give emphasis, or perhaps to round out the speech rhythm by the interpolation of a syllable; but once having done this, we proceed to acquire a feeling that the simple verb can not express quite what the compound does. So we say, for example, add up, air out, belch up, bow down, bulge out, bunk up, cloud up, deal out, fall down, fill up, flatten out, fold up, hatch out, hurry up, kneel down, leak out, meet up, pile up, rise up, swell up, taper off, wake up, etc., despite the fact that one can not very well bow except down, nor pile wood except up, nor can a chicken hatch otherwise than out. Yet we feel a difference between bowing and bowing down, kneeling and kneeling down, leaking and leaking out.

5. Finally, a few verb-adverb combinations have assumed special meanings which are due, not to any potential values of verb or adverb, but to the fact that they have been used in special contexts so long and so exclusively that they have become unusually suggestive to those who are wont to use them. So bid in, according to Webster, implies that the present owner buys back his own property at auction; bind out usually applies to apprenticing; to brick up is to line something, usually a well, with brick; we call up usually by telephone; one crams up for an examination; die off or out is rarely applied to an individual but to a collection or community; kick off is a football term; the farmer lays by his corn when he plows it for the last time; we still feel that offer up is suggestive of sacrifice; one plucks up courage, principally.

a

SECTION V. PECULIARITIES OF COMBINATION

[ocr errors]

-n

[ocr errors]

-ure

1. It is very noticeable that the verbs that enter into these combinations are largely monosyllables. Out of 826 combinations specially examined only ninety-seven have dissyllabic verbs. And of these only three bear the accent on the last syllable, namely, collect (up), connect (up), divide (up). The others end in very weak syllables, chiefly the vocalic consonants l, m, n, r, less often in -ish or -y. Verbs in -r e. g. barter, feather

27
-le
settle, cripple

24
broaden, button

19
-Y
carry, hurry

6
-sh
finish, polish

3
measure, treasure

3 Miscellaneous ante, blossom, harness... 15

97 I have noted only one trisyllabic verb in combination, namely, partition (off).

2. Of the monosyllabic verbs which have been tabulated for the foregoing paragraph about 18 per cent are of non-Teutonic origin, such as, for example, calm (down), palm (off), air (out), map (out), add (up), check (up), etc.; of the dissyllabic verbs in combination about 55 per cent are non-Teutonic, as, for example, quiet (down), finish (off), figure (out). balance (up), level (up), offer (up), etc.

The reasons for the predominance of native, monosyllabic verbs in combination are clear, I am sure. In the first place, they are not only less cumbersome in the combining, but for the sake of a certain speech rhythm they seem to call for weaker syllables to accompany them. Then again the native Teutonic verbs (and I include those of Scandinavian origin) are used more commonly, as a rule, and are more likely to be familiar to the speaker possessed of a limited vocabulary.

3. Some three or four dozen of the verbs entering into these combinations are, curiously enough, seldom or never used without the particle. Such, for example, are auction off, cave in, chirk up, clutter up, coop up, dole out, drum up, even up, feather out, ginger up, hedge in, jot down, keel over, limber up, parcel out, peter out, plank down 'to pay,' etc. Almost as many others, moreover, such as brace up, brush up, calm down, cloud up, keep in or out, light up, are used intransitively only in combination. All

? When keep and light are applied to fruit and fuel, for example, they are not intra

nuch as passive in signification.

itive so

of which goes to show that while from some verb-adverb combinations the particle might be spared, from numerous others it can by no means be dropped.

4. To revert to the question of the influence which sentence-stress has upon the use of the verb-adverb combination, it is interesting to note that in this connection, just as in some others, certain definite rules have been adopted for the arrangement of the word-group. A pronominal object almost always intervenes between the verb and the particle in modern English. I find, for example, the following:

immediately upon finding this out.-Wallingford, 331.
tell him to git himself up regardless.-H. Finn, 223.
when I hunted him out.Iron Heel, 43.

I couldn't make it out.-H. Finn, 22. Otherwise the particle usually follows the verb immediately and is followed by the object, whether it be a noun or a substantive phrase or . clause:

He's figuring up his bank account today.—Wallingford, 273.

It was hard to find out who was responsible for any given bad conditions.-Four Years, 131.

We fixed up a short forked stick.-H. Finn, 90.
Drop in and let on to be a stranger.-H. Finn, 319.

Even as early as the Tudor period of English history these rules of order were generally adhered to altho the exceptions were somewhat more frequent than at the present time. For Wyclif's "thei schuln take you" (Matt. 10:17) Tyndale has "deliver you up" and the King James version follows Tyndale's phrasing. Bale writes “Evyn to dewore her and eat her upp attonnys" (Kynge Johan 427), and “To gyve up his crowne” (Do. 1006), but Dekker has “Rats and foul maladies eat up thee and thine" (Witch of Edmonton, IV, i), “Why should I not walk hand in hand with Death, To find my love out(Do., IV, ii), and “Have I given up myself to thy black lust" (Do., V, i). Even earlier yet Mandeville's Travels reads: "they do off both hosen and shoon” (p. 40) and "every good Christian man ... should pain him ... to chase out all the misbelieving men” (p. 4).

Occasionally, when the noun object is short, or when the speaker wishes to emphasize the particle slightly, the object intervenes. So Mark Twain writes, “s’pose you'd 'a' done right and give Jim up(H. Finn, 127), and "I had hunted the place over" (H. Finn, 34).

Sometimes, moreover, the particle is further emphasized by the interpolation of an adverb along with the pronominal object as when, for example, one of Chester's characters says, “We can fix you all up(Walling

[ocr errors]

come in...

ford, 135). Other examples are keep right on, lay not up for yourselves treasures (King James Bible, Matt. 6:19).

In a few instances the impersonal pronoun it intervenes, but is itself so colorless that the unity of the verb-adverb combination is hardly affected at all. This is true of such expressions as to come it over (someone), to hit it up 'to hasten,' to hit it off 'to agree,' to stick it out 'to persevere,' to whoop it up, etc.

5. As has already been noted, the English verb-adverb combination is frequently synonymous with, or nearly synonymous with, a Romanic verb. 1 A careful examination of a fairly generous number of these equivalents

brings into prominence the fact that the English combination is sometimes a mere translation of the idea of the Latin verb, but at other times it attempts to reproduce by its two elements the stem and prefix of a Latin compound verb, and at other times it is even a figurative reproduction of some Latin verb.

In the first group might be placed such combinations as :
ask for.... request

enter
bear out.. corroborate

come around.

acquiesce blow out. extinguish crumble up.......... disintegrate break down.. collapse

dig up...

exhume bring around...... resuscitate

fed up

satiated come by............... acquire

descend

acquiesce
let in....... admit
miake out. distinguish
own up.

confess In a second group are those which show a fairly good translation of the Latin basic verb but not always so good a reproduction of the prefix, as, for example:

inflate

get round....... circumvent bring in.. introduce light up....

illuminate bring up suggest

put off..

postpone
call off..

revoke
put on.

assume
call out... evoke

put out.

extinguish
catch on..
apprehend take in..

deceive
deal out..
distribute

assume
gather up. .... collect

And, finally, some verb-adverb combinations express in a figurative and often more picturesque way the idea expressed rather more tamely by the Latin derivative. Examples are:

get down.. give in.

a

blow up

take up...

[ocr errors]

stand by stir up

go thru...

wind up..

[ocr errors]

cut down............. diminish pick up... acquire
cut out.

eliminate
pull thru..

recover
fall off.
diminish

support
fork over. deliver

excite fall thru .......... fail

tear down...... demolish
hold 011..

delay
wear out.

exhaust
search

conclude pan Out

result

wipe out.... obliterate It is to the somewhat showy, because figurative, combinations of this third group that the strongest objection is made by the purist.

6. Occasionally the verb-combination comprises two adverbial particles instead of just one. So one finds :

catch up with 'to overtake' keep on with 'to continue
fall in with 'to accept' put up with 'to tolerate'
get on with 'to harmonize' sneak up on 'to approach stealthily'
get thru with 'to finish' stand up for 'to defend'
go in for 'to study, cultivate' stick up for 'to defend'

go over to 'to join'
Of course, it may be argued that the second particle is a preposition

a governing the following substantive. But because the entire phrase can be translated by a single, simple verb, and because the entire phrase functions as a single verb, there is a certain amount of justification for treating the above-named combinations as double combinations.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »