Ad Astra per Latini—Francis Faraday SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 1 Contents SpecGram Film and Media Club Examines ‘Wannabe’—Mr Manfred M. McManus

Fables of Linguistics
The Tale of the Family of (In)separable Particles

The Tale Teller of Tollerton Town

Once upon a time, in Grammarton, there was a family of units of linguistic form called the Particles. There was Up, In, On, Down and Out. They were closely related to a much larger family called Verbs (you’ve met them, I’m sure: Take, Give, Make, Lend, Regurgitate, Gesticulate and Assassinate among many others) and often helped them out to create new instances of form-function mapping like Take Off, Lend Out and Make Up. The Particle family were so happy to be able to form multi-word strings with the Verb family.

However, one cloudy day, a somewhat shifty, shadowy and shuffling family arrived in Grammarton: the Noun Phrases. These were headed up by the unpleasant Nouns with their scrawny sidekicks, the Determiners and Quantifiers. They marched over to Phrasal Verb hall where the Particles were happily combining with the Verbs and said, ‘Oi, we wanna be part of this!’ And straight away they pushed themselves in between the Verbs and Particles and suddenly everything in Grammarton was ‘lend [these clothes] out’, ‘make [those five stories] up’ and ‘tell [my nephew] off’.

Well the Verbs and the Particles were far from happy with this and pushed right back at ’em: ‘We like being next to each other, it’s how it’s always been’. There was to-ing and fro-ing, back-ing and forth-ing and soon a compromise was reached: the Noun family would be able to muscle in sometimes but at other times they would have to wait to the end. This was the Style of the compromise: ‘lend [my clothes] out’ some of the time, but ‘lend out [my clothes]’ at other times. And so life went along in Grammarton.

But then, a little while later, an every shiftier, shadowier and shufflinger family arrived in Grammarton: the Pronouns. And they weren’t up for negotiation. They straightaway pushed themselves in between the Verbs and the Particles and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was all ‘lend [them] out’ and ‘give [it] up’ and not single instance of *‘lend out [it]’ or *‘give up [it]’. However terrible, with all these Pronouns in Grammarton the Verbs and the Particles hardly ever got to see each other. And everyone was really fed up with it!

Wait a minute, said one of the Particles suddenly! That’s the answer! I don’t want to be fed up with it any moreand that’s exactly the way to do it. Let’s get together Particles, there’s strength in numbers. So the Particles packed themselves up in little syntagmatic dyads and clung on to each other for all they were worth: suddenly Grammarton was full of strings like ‘get along with’, ‘get up to’, ‘make up with’ ‘go on about’ and ‘talk down to’not to mention ‘be fed up with’! With two Particles for each Verb, the Pronouns couldn’t get it and had to wait to the end: their tricksthey could ‘get up to [them]’; bad-mouthing the Particles and Verbswell, they couldn’t ‘talk down to [them]’. And the Verbs and Particles refused to ‘make up with [them]’ and stuck together forever. And that’s how the extended family of dual-particle phrasal verbs came to be in Grammarton.

Ad Astra per LatiniFrancis Faraday
SpecGram Film and Media Club Examines ‘Wannabe’Mr Manfred M. McManus
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 1 Contents