Socially-evaluated syntactic variation? A perception study of the English particle verb alternation


We investigate social evaluation of the verb-particle alternation in English (e.g. I took the trash out ~ I took out the trash). Kroch and Small (1978) find that radio show hosts use the verb-particle-object order more than their guests, presumably to adhere to prescriptive norms disfavoring sentence-final prepositions. Our perception study, which employs Labov et al.’s (2011) newscaster paradigm, assesses this claim. Newscasters produced either the verb-particle-object order or the verb-object-particle order sentence-finally, although ratings between these two conditions did not differ significantly. This suggests that, despite Kroch and Small’s findings, listeners do not socially evaluate this alternation in perception.

LSA 2019 Annual Meeting (poster)