Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Passers-by be damned

The other day, a friend and I were discussing a relatively amusing construction in English, namely the agentive nominalization of verb-particle combinations like pick up and think through. Instead of *picker up or *pick upper, one must say picker upper (with the agentive nominalizer showing up on both the verb and the particle). This is all well known. But then my friend noticed something more interesting: the agentive nominalizations of figure out and think over are not *figurer outer and *thinker overer, as we might expect, but rather figure outer and thinker over (other individuals I've asked since the first conversation have concurred with these judgements). We might think, from this, that this construction does not require that -er be appended to both the verb and the particle, but only that [r] be realized as the final segment of both verb and particle. But this can't be right either, for consider the agentive nominalization of the hypothetical verb-particle combination figure over...