Vol. 51 No. 2 (2013)

Particle-verb constructions in Vedic: the case of ápa

Published 2013-09-17


  • Construction Grammar,
  • idioms,
  • metaphorical extension,
  • particle verbs,
  • motion events,
  • spatial prepositions,
  • resultative constructions,
  • Vedic
  • ...More


Vedic verbs can be modified by certain particles, mainly expressing topological notions, which are homophonous with some adpositions and adverbs, and which can occur either attached to the verb or detached from it. New verbal forms derived by the combination of a verbal base with one of those particles have a quite controversial status. On the one hand, particle verbs are not morphological units since the particle and the verb can occur separated; thus they appear to be a product of syntax. On the other hand, they behave as morphologically derived complex verbs since they constitute semantic units. Indeed, a closer examination of the properties of particle verbs shows that they can be characterised both as syntactic entities and as lexical units.

Therefore, Vedic particle verbs represent a challenge for theories assuming a strict division between lexicon and syntax. In order to meet the challenge, I propose to analyse these combinations as ‘constructions’ (in the sense assumed by Construction Grammar), varying with respect to their degree of idiomaticity vs productivity. As an example of particle-verb construction, a case study from the Ṛgveda will be presented: I will investigate the construction formed with the particle ápa and I will explain its structure and meaning.