, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 15–44

The role of dialects in the emergence of Italian phrasal verbs

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11525-009-9133-x

Cite this article as:
Iacobini, C. Morphology (2009) 19: 15. doi:10.1007/s11525-009-9133-x


Romance Languages are a less homogenous group than depicted by current typological descriptions. Although Verb-Framing structures are predominantly used, Satellite-Framing constructions are present in all major Romance varieties and prevalent in some minor varieties. The study of the dialects of Italy shows that the presence of Phrasal Verbs (PhV) in the Italian language is due to an internal development (which finds antecedents in vulgar and late Latin) that gave rise to a construction that has been present in Tuscan dialects since their origins. The particular history of the relationship between dialects and the national language helps to explain the more frequent occurrence of PhVs in current standard Italian as compared to the other major Romance languages. The confutation of the hypothesis whereby the origin of Italian PhVs depends on a calque from the German language, although based on diachronic and diatopic data on the presence of PhVs in the dialects of Italy, has important methodological consequences. It shows that a typological model of the encoding of motion events must encompass the processes of internal variations (that may also depend on diamesic and diastratic factors) and not explain the causes of change only through external influence.


Phrasal verbs Typology of motion events Romance languages Italian language Dialects of Italy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Letterari, Facoltà di Lingue e Letterature StraniereUniversità di SalernoFisciano, SalernoItaly

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