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2.4.1. Finite clauses
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It is generally taken for granted that adpositions do not take clausal complements. The main reason for this is that PP-complements of verbs or adjectives normally do not contain a clause as their complement; see the primeless examples in (48). Instead, they normally form an anticipatory pronominal PP with the R-word er'there', which introduces (or refers to) a clause that is placed in clause-final position; see the primed examples in (48). Note that the pronominal PP is sometimes optional; an example such as (48a') can also surface as dat Jan verlangt dat Peter komt.

Example 48
a. * dat Jan [naar [dat Peter komt]] verlangt.
  that  Jan  for   that  Peter comes  longs
a'. dat Jan er naar verlangt [dat Peter komt].
  that  Jan there  for  longs   that  Peter comes
  'that Jan is longing for Peter to come.'
b. * dat Jan trots [op [dat hij goed zingen kan]] is.
  that  Jan proud   of   that  he  well  sing  can  is
b'. dat Jan er trots op is [dat hij goed zingen kan].
  that  Jan there  proud  of  is   that  he  well  sing  can
  'that Jan is proud of it that he can sing well.'

Subsection I will show, however, that it is not completely true that PP-complements cannot have a clause as their complement. The generalization that emerges is that adpositions can at least marginally take a clause as their complement whenever they occupy a position in which R-extraction is not allowed. This conclusion is important, since it bears on the question as to whether elements like voordat'before', nadat'after', and doordat'because' must be analyzed as complex subordinating conjunctions (complementizers), as is normally claimed in traditional grammar, or whether we are actually dealing with regular prepositions that take a finite clause as their complement. This issue is discussed in Subsection II. The discussion will further show that, insofar as complementation by a clause is possible, this always involves declarative clauses.

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[+]  I.  Clausal complements of object-PPs

As a general rule, adpositions do not take clausal complements. This is quite clear from the fact, illustrated in (49a&b), that the noun phrase het vuurwerk in the PP-complement of the verb wachten'to wait' cannot be replaced by a clause. In order to express the intended meaning in (49b), we have to make use of the anticipatory pronominal PP er ... op'on it' and place the clause in clause-final, postverbal position, as in (49c).

Example 49
a. dat Jan op het vuurwerk wacht.
  that  Jan for the firework  waits
  'that Jan is waiting for the fireworks.'
b. * dat Jan [op [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt]] wacht.
  that  Jan   for   that the firework  prt.-lit  is  waits
c. dat Jan er niet langer op wacht [dat het vuurwerk wordt afgestoken].
  that  Jan  there  no longer  for  waits   that the firework  is  prt.-lit
  'that Jan wonʼt wait any longer for the moment that the fireworks are lit.'

However, it seems too strong to assume a general prohibition on clausal complements of prepositions, since PP-constructions such as (49b) appear to improve considerably if the PP is moved into some other position; cf. Haslinger (2007:ch.3). In (50), we give examples involving topicalization, scrambling and PP-over-V; although many speakers still consider these examples marked, most agree that they are considerably better than example (49b).

Example 50
a. ? [Op [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt]], wacht ik niet.
  for   that  the firework  prt.-lit  is  wait  not
  'I wonʼt wait for the moment that the fireworks are lit.'
b. ? dat ik [op [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt]] niet langer wacht.
  that   for   that  the firework  prt.-lit  is  no longer  wait
  'that I wonʼt wait any longer for the moment that the fireworks are lit.'
c. ? dat Jan niet langer wacht [op [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt]].
  that  Jan no longer  wait  for   that  the firework  prt.-lit  is
  'that Jan wonʼt wait any longer for the moment that the fireworks are lit.'

Given the fact that PP-over-V gives rise to a reasonably acceptable result, it does not come as a surprise that in clauses without a verb in clause-final position the R-word er is apparently optional; this follows if we assume that the version of (51) with er corresponds with the embedded clause in (49c), and the one without er with the embedded clause in (50c).

Example 51
Jan wacht ?(er) niet langer op [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt].
  Jan waits  there  no longer  for   that  the firework  prt.-lit  is
'Jan wonʼt wait any longer for the moment that the fireworks are lit.'

      Provided that the contrast between (49b) and the examples in (50) is real, the answer to the question what accounts for this contrast that presents itself is that the PP in the former case is occupying a position in which R-extraction is normally possible, whereas the PPs in the latter cases are occupying positions in which R-extraction is blocked. Given that (52) shows that the anticipatory pronominal PP cannot be placed as a whole in the relevant positions either, there is no other alternative than using the constructions in (50).

Example 52
a. * Erop wacht ik niet [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt].
b. * dat ik erop niet langer wacht [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt].
c. * dat ik niet langer wacht erop [dat het vuurwerk afgestoken wordt].

For completeness' sake, note that the examples in (52) become more or lesss acceptable if the demonstrative pronominal PP daarop substitutes for erop, and the clause dat het vuurwerk wordt afgestoken is preceded by a comma intonation. The construction involving the anticipatory pronominal PP er .. op does not require such an intonation break, so we can put the cases with daarop, which probably involve Right Dislocation, aside in the present discussion.

[+]  II.  Adverbial clauses

Although the data in (50) are perhaps not as robust as one would like them to be, they cast serious doubt on the assumption that there is a general ban on clausal complements of prepositions. This is important since it may bear on the issue of whether the adverbial phrase in (53a) must be analyzed as involving the complex subordinating conjunction (complementizer) voordat, as in (53b), or as the preposition voor which takes a clausal complement, as in (53c); cf. Hoekstra (1984b).

Example 53
a. Jan kuste zijn vader voordat hij vertrok.
  Jan kissed  his father  before  he  left
b. [clause [complementizer voordat] hij vertrok]
c. [PP [preposition voor] [clause dat hij vertrok]]

A third analysis would involve the postulation of an empty noun phrase, as in (54a). In other words, (53a) would then receive an analysis similar to that of the (slightly awkward) relative construction in (54b). Under the analysis in (54a), the dat-clause acts as a relative clause that takes the empty noun phrase as its antecedent.

Example 54
a. voor [NP ∅ [relative clause dat hij vertrok]]
b. voor [NP het moment [relative clause dat hij vertrok]]
  before  the moment  that  he  left

The following subsections investigate whether one of the three analyses in (53) and (54) is to be preferred. Our conclusion will be that at this moment the available potential arguments are not conclusive. In this connection, it should be mentioned that in the literature generally not much effort is devoted to defending the position that is taken, so that much of what follows can be considered an elaboration of arguments that seem to be implicitly assumed in the literature. We will first discuss cases involving temporal phrases in Subsection A, which will be followed by a briefer discussion of non-temporal cases in Subsection B.

[+]  A.  Temporal phrases

Before we can discuss the question of which analysis in (53) and (54) is to be preferred we have to discuss the main facts. Example (55) provides some finite adverbial temporal clauses that illustrate the anteriority relation before: the event expressed by the main clause precedes the event expressed by the adverbial clause. Examples (55a) and (55b) differ in that the event time of the main clause is preferably construed as a specific point on the time line in the former and as an interval in the latter case. Example (55c) has an “irrealis/future tense” flavor, which may account for the fact that the verb cannot readily be in the past tense. The primed examples show that the complementizer-like element dat can be dropped in (55a&b), but not in (55c).

Example 55
before
a. voordat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  before.that  he leaves/left
  'before he leaves/left'
a'. voor hij vertrekt/vertrok
b. totdat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  until.that  he  leaves/left
  'until he leaves/left'
b'. tot hij vertrekt/vertrok
c. tegen dat hij vertrekt/?vertrok
  close.to  that  he left/leaves
  'close to the moment that he leaves'
c'. * tegen hij vertrekt/vertrok

The examples in (56) illustrate the simultaneousness relation. The contrast between the primeless and primed examples shows that in this case the complementizer-like element dat cannot be realized. Examples (56a) and (56b) again seem to differ in that the event time of the main clause is preferably construed as a specific point on the time line in the former and as an interval in the latter case. The unacceptability of (56a') with the verb in the present tense is due to the fact that toen can only refer to a position on the time line preceding the speech time. Example (56c) clearly has an “irrealis/future tense” interpretation, which straightforwardly accounts for the fact that the verb cannot be in the past tense.

Example 56
simultaneous
a. * toen dat hij vertrok/vertrekt
  when  that  he left/leaves
a'. toen hij vertrok/*vertrekt
  when  he  left/leaves
b. ?? terwijl dat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  while  that  he  leaves/left
b'. terwijl hij vertrekt/vertrok
  while  he  leaves/left
c. * als dat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  when  that  he  leaves/left
c'. als hij vertrekt/*vertrok
  when  he  leaves/left

The examples in (57) illustrate the posteriority relation after: the event expressed by the main clause follows the event expressed by the adverbial clause. Examples (57a) and (57b) differ again in that the event time of the main clause is preferably construed as a specific point on the time line in the former and as an interval in the latter case. The ungrammaticality of (57b) with the verb in the present tense is due to the fact that sinds requires the starting point of the interval to precede the speech time; cf. Section 1.3.2, sub IB. Although (57c) can have an “irrealis/future tense” interpretation, this example is also acceptable with a past tense, which is due to the fact that, under Section 1.3.2, sub IB. The primed examples show that the complementizer-like element dat cannot be dropped in these examples.

Example 57
after
a. nadat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  after.that  he leaves/left
a'. * na hij vertrekt/vertrok
b. sinds dat hij vertrok/*vertrekt
  since that  he  left/leaves
b'. sinds hij vertrok/*vertrekt
c. vanaf dat hij vertrekt/vertrok
  from  that  he  leaves/left
c'. * vanaf hij vertrok/vertrekt

Now that we have reviewed the relevant data, we may consider the question as to which of the analyses in (53) and (54) is best able to account for the data. This will be the main topic of the following subsections.

[+]  1.  Arguments in favor of the complex complementizer analysis

We will start with two arguments in favor of the complex complementizer analysis. The first argument in favor of a complex complementizer analysis for voordat, etc. is that the paradigm is not complete. If temporal adpositions are able to take a clause as their complement, there is no obvious reason why we use morphologically simple words like toen and terwijl instead of the clumsy sounding sequences tijdens dat'during that' and gedurende dat'during that'. If formations like voordat are listed in the lexicon as complex complementizers, the clumsiness of tijdens dat and gedurende dat could just be considered accidental morphological gaps.
      The distribution of the element dat seems largely unpredictable: in (55a&b) and (57b) the presence of dat seems optional, in (55c) and (57a&c) dat is obligatory, and in the examples in (56) dat can never be realized. Since in embedded declarative complement clauses the complementizer dat is normally present, the fact that dat sometimes can or must be omitted is a problem for the analysis in (53c), according to which the clause is a complement of the preposition and thus supports the analysis in (53b), which would be compatible with the claim that we are dealing with complex complementizers that are listed in the lexicon, some of which have shorter allomorphs.

[+]  2.  Arguments in favor of the complementation and relative clause analysis

Although the arguments in Subsection 1 provide strong support in favor of the complex complementizer analysis, there are also arguments in favor of the competing analysis in (53c).
      An obvious argument in favor of the analysis according to which we are dealing with a preposition that takes a clause as its complement is that the adverbial clause has the appearance of a regular PP, where the nominal complement is replaced by the clause. Also the semantics seems to be completely regular. An example such as (53a), repeated here as (58a), expresses that the “kissing” event denoted by the main clause precedes the “leaving” event denoted by the adverbial clause. In this respect, there is no difference with example (58b). This also holds for the other sequences P+dat ... in (55).

Example 58
a. Jan kuste zijn vader voordat hij vertrok.
  Jan kissed  his father  before  he  left
b. Jan kuste zijn vader voor zijn vertrek.
  Jan kissed  his father  before his departure

The counterargument from subsection 1 that not all temporal prepositions take a clause as their complement can be countered by claiming that, despite their clumsiness, sequences like tijdens/gedurende dat are in fact grammatical. Further, the proponents of the regular PP analysis could point out that, whereas voordat, nadat, and totdat are explicitly treated as subordinators in the traditional grammars and dictionaries, this is not the case with tegen dat, sinds dat, and vanaf dat. This might support the claim that, in general, temporal prepositions are able to take clauses as their complement. The clumsiness of tijdens/gedurende dat might just be due to lexical blocking, that is, to the fact that the lexicon contains the complementizers toen and terwijl.
      Even though the proponents of the complementationanalysis in (53c) might acknowledge the problem of the distribution of dat, they may point out that it should make us suspicious that the presumed “complex complementizers” with dat can only occur with prepositional elements. This could be used as an argument in favor of the idea that in (55) and (57) we are actually dealing with prepositions taking a finite clause as their complement.
      That we are dealing with a regular preposition is also suggested by the fact that there are some correspondences between the prepositions and the presumed complex complementizers with respect to modification. As is shown in (59) the temporal prepositions voor and na can be modified by the same elements as the sequences voor dat and na dat. This supports the hypothesis that we are actually dealing with regular PPs in the primed examples.

Example 59
a. kort/een tijdje voor de oorlog
  shortly/a while  before the war
a'. kort/een tijdje voor dat de oorlog uitbrak
  shortly/a while  before  the war  started
b. vlak/drie jaar na het begin van de oorlog
  just/three years  after  the start of the war
b'. vlak/drie jaar na dat de oorlog uitbrak
  just/three years  after  the war  started
[+]  3.  Argument in favor of the relative clause analysis

A conclusive argument in favor of a complementation analysis would be an example in which an element intervenes between the preposition and the finite clause, that is, constructions of the type tot vlak voor de deur'until just in front of the door' or voor daar bij'for with it' discussed in Section 2.2. Unfortunately, however, such examples cannot be constructed because clauses allow neither modification nor R-extraction. Still there are semantic facts that suggest that certain phonetically empty elements can be place in between the preposition and the complementizer but these seem to support the relative clause analysis rather than complex complementizer analysis.
      Consider example (60a), which is ambiguous between two readings, cf. Larson (1990) and Haslinger (2007). Under the first reading, the temporal expression na'after' takes scope over the complete string that it precedes (dat hij beweerde dat hij vertrokken was): this gives rise to the paraphrase in (60b). Under the second reading the scope of the temporal expression is restricted to the more deeply embedded clause (dat hij vertrokken was): this gives rise to paraphrase in (60c), which aims at expressing that the killer has committed perjury.

Example 60
a. De dader was op het feest gezien nadat hij beweerde dat hij vertrokken was.
  the culprit was at the party seen  after  he claimed  that  he left  was
  'The culprit was seen at the party after he claimed that heʼd left.'
b. The culprit was seen at the party after he made a claim, viz., that heʼd left.
c. The culprit was seen at the party after the time he claimed that heʼd left (it).

The crucial fact is that the slightly awkward construction in (61a) has the same scope properties as example (60a).

Example 61
a. De dader was op het feest gezien na het moment dat hij beweerde dat hij vertrokken was.
  the culprit was at the party  seen  after  the moment that  he claimed  that  he  left  was
  'The culprit was seen at the party after the moment he claimed that heʼd left.'
b. Jan was seen at the party after the moment he made the claim that heʼd left.
c. Jan was seen at the party after the moment he claimed that heʼd left (it).

This suggests that we may account for the ambiguity of (60a) by assuming that the temporal expression is related to its scope position by means of a phonetically empty relative element rel with the function of an adverbial phrase of time. This empty element is moved into the position preceding the complementizer dat and takes an empty noun as its antecedent, that is, into the position that is occupied by overt relative pronouns. This would mean that the reading in (60b) corresponds to the structure in (62a), in which rel originates in the matrix clause, and the reading in (60c) to that in (62b), in which rel originates in the embedded clause. For completeness' sake, the structures related to the two readings of (61a) are given in the primed examples.

Example 62
De moordenaar was op het feest gezien ...
a. na [NP ∅ [rel. clausereli dat hij beweerde ti [dat hij vertrokken was]]]
a'. na [NP het moment [rel. clausereli dat hij beweerde ti [dat hij vertrokken was]]]
b. na [NP ∅ [rel. clausereli dat hij beweerde [dat hij vertrokken was ti]]]
b'. na [NP het moment [rel. clausereli dat hij beweerde [dat hij vertrokken was ti]]]
[+]  4.  Conclusion

The discussion in the previous subsections makes it clear that it is hard to give explicit criteria that could definitely settle the issue concerning the proper analysis of the sequences P + dat on the basis of the currently available evidence.

[+]  B.  Non-temporal phrases

Many sequences of the form P+dat ... can also be found in the non-temporal domain, and the same analyses as discussed in Subsection A present themselves. Example (63) provides a short list.

Example 63
a. doordat 'because'
b. in plaats (van) dat 'instead of'
c. niettegenstaande dat 'in spite of'
d. omdat 'because'
e. ondanks dat 'despite'
f. opdat 'so that'
g. zonder dat 'without'

The formations in (63) pose a potential problem for the complementation analysis, because the meaning of the formation is not always fully compositional. For example, the (somewhat archaic) sequence opdat introduces an adverbial clause which expresses a goal, whereas a PP headed by op normally does not express a goal (a possible exception is the standard formula Op je gezondheid!'Your health!'). The proponents of the complex complementizer analysis should be willing to accept that some of the complementizers in the lexicon are phrasal in nature; examples (63b&c) are cases for which this is generally assumed.

References:
  • Haslinger, Irene2007The syntactic location of events. Aspects of verbal complementation in DutchUniversity of TilburgThesis
  • Haslinger, Irene2007The syntactic location of events. Aspects of verbal complementation in DutchUniversity of TilburgThesis
  • Hoekstra, Teun1984Government and the distribution of sentential complementation in DutchDe Geest, W. & Putseys, Y. (eds.)Sentential complementationDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications105-116
  • Larson, Richard K1990Extraction and multiple selection in PPThe Linguistic Review7169-182
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