Social role effects on English particle verb variation fail to replicate


The English particle verb alternation has been argued to be sensitive to the social role occupied by speakers on radio broadcasts; Kroch and Small (1978) argue that radio show hosts and in-studio guests’ greater sensitivity to prescriptive norms makes them more likely to use the joined variant of the alternation than listeners calling in to the show. This study analyzes 10,521 tokens of variable particle verbs from the RadioTalk Corpus (Beeferman et al. 2019) to try to replicate the effect of speaker role. Our analysis confirms that direct object length, register, a measure of frequency, semantic compositionality of the particle verb, and the particle’s prosody all condition the alternation. However, the effect of social role does not replicate.

Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue canadienne de linguistique 68(2):329–343