George Walkden (Constance)

Preposition stranding in Early West Germanic

In this paper I argue that preposition stranding in the early West Germanic languages provides evidence for the theory of stranding in Abels (2012). Data is drawn from modern corpus resources: the YCOE (Taylor et al. 2003) for Old English (OE) and the HeliPaD (Walkden 2015, 2016) for Old Saxon (OS).

The theory of stranding in Abels (2012) is a version of the escape hatch theory of van Riemsdijk (1978). PP is a phase, and antilocality prevents movement of the complement to SpecPP. Where there is extraction, it must be movement of an element smaller than the complement of PP. Abels argues for this based on ‘R-stranding’ in present-day German, in which the preposition alternates in form when it is stranded (e.g. preposition in vs. stranded drin), suggesting that an extra projection is present below PP, which Abels labels drP.

In OE, stranding is available in a broader set of contexts: essentially all operator-movement constructions (especially finite relatives introduced by an invariant particle þe), as well as R-stranding (see e.g. Taylor 2014: 444–445). It is unavailable when an overtly case-marked DP would be extracted. The facts in OS are analogous, modulo differences in the relativization system. Crucially, stranded prepositions systematically take a different form, as established for OE by Wende (1915) and Alcorn (2011): alternations such as in vs. inne and betweoh vs. betweonum are found, with the phonologically heavier version found much more robustly in stranding contexts. I argue against the view that the alternations are purely phonological, since neither the lighter form is predictable from the heavier form nor vice versa. These constitute evidence for extraction of elements smaller than the complement of PP in a broader range of contexts than allowed by the modern R-stranding languages.