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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This paper examines regional and grammatical effects on the English particle verb alternation. We report on a judgment experiment and a Twitter corpus study designed to address Hughes et al.’s (2005) claim that the continuous order is favored in Scotland while the discontinuous order is favored in Southern England. The results from both the acceptability judgment study and the Twitter corpus revealed no support for a North-South difference across UK dialects, but instead show a trans-Atlantic difference: respondents from the UK and Ireland favored discontinuous orders while US and Canadian participants favored continuous orders. Based on a preliminary analysis of historical corpus data, we speculate that this difference reflects change toward an innovative discontinuous order that has proceeded more quickly in Old World dialects than in North America. Other effects tested in the judgment study were the information-structural factor of object givenness, which did not prove significant, and the prosodic factor of object weight, which had the anticipated negative effect on the discontinuous order while also showing an unexpected positive effect on the continuous order.

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