• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
4.2.1.1. Spatial constructions
quickinfo

Although we do not intend to extensively repeat the discussion of spatial adpositions that was given in Section 1.1.2.2, we will nevertheless start in Subsection I by giving a brief indication of the main difference between locational and directional adpositional phrases, which will be the topics of, respectively, Subsections II and III.

readmore
[+]  I.  General introduction

Spatial adpositional complementives can either denote a location or a direction. The actual interpretation of clauses with a locational complementive depends on the main verb: if the verb is stative, as in (15a), the clause just expresses that the subject of the adpositional phrase occupies a certain location, but if the verb denotes an activity or a process, as in (15b), the clause expresses that the subject is undergoing a change of location. Since directional complementives always imply a change of location, they require that the main verb denote an activity or a process, as is shown in (15c).

Example 15
a. Jan ligt in het zwembad.
location
  Jan lies  in  the swimming.pool
b. Jan valt in het zwembad.
change of location
  Jan falls  into  the swimming.pool
c. Jan valt/*ligt het zwembad in.
directional
  Jan falls  the swimming.pool  into

Locational adpositional phrases are normally headed by prepositions (although occasionally a circumposition can be used as well). Directional phrases, on the other hand, can either be headed by a directional preposition like naar'to' or a post- or circumposition; cf. Section 1.3.
      The semantic difference between constructions like (15b) and (15c) is often not immediately clear. The main difference between locational and directional adpositional phrases is that the latter implies the notion of a path, whereas the former does not and simply indicate the (new) position of the located object. The fact that the two types of adpositional phrases differ can be made clear by means of the XP met die NP! construction. For most speakers, the XP must be a directional phrase; if the XP is a locational phrase, the construction gives rise to a marked result. This accounts for the difference between (16a') and (16b').

Example 16
a. We gooien die jongen in het zwembad.
change of location
  we  throw  that boy  into the swimming.pool
a'. % In het zwembad met die jongen!
  into the swimming.pool  with that boy
b. We gooien die jongen het zwembad in.
directional
  we  throw  that boy  the swimming.pool  into
b'. Het zwembad in met die jongen!
  the swimming.pool  into  with that boy

      Verbs with spatial complementives may differ with respect to the selection restrictions they impose on spatial PPs: the (stative) locational verbs in (17a) are only compatible with adpositional phrases that denote a location; the verbs of change of location in (17b) force a change of location reading on the adpositional phrase, and can be seen as the causative counterparts of the verbs in (17a); the verbs of traversing in (17c), finally, seem compatible only with adpositional phrases that denote a direction (= change of location along a path).

Example 17
a. Verbs of location (monadic): hangen'to hang', liggen'to lie', staan'to stand', zitten'to sit'
b. Verbs of change of location (dyadic): hangen'to hang', leggen'to lay', zetten'to put'
c. Verbs of traversing: fietsen'to cycle', rijden'to drive', wandelen'to walk', etc.

An illustration of the restrictions imposed by these verbs on an adpositional predicate is given in (18). In (18a), the locational verb staan'to stand' indicates that the car is situated on the hill. Example (18b) also expresses that the car is situated on the hill, but in addition it is claimed that this position of the car is the result of an action by Jan, that is, that a change of location is involved. That the verb zetten'to put' is not compatible with a directional adpositional phrase is clear from the fact illustrated in (18b') that the prepositional phrase cannot be replaced by the postpositional one de heuvel op'onto the hill'. Example (18c) also indicates a change of location, but in addition it is expressed that the car is covering some path. That rijden'to drive' preferably takes a directional adpositional phrase is clear from the fact that it is at best marginally compatible with the prepositional phrase op de heuvel'on the hill'; see Section 1.1.2.2, sub I, for exceptions and more discussion.

Example 18
a. De auto staat op de heuvel.
  the car  stands  on the hill
  'The car is standing on the hill.'
b. Jan zet de auto op de heuvel.
  Jan puts  the car  onto the hill
  'Jan is putting the car onto the hill.'
b'. *? Jan zet de auto de heuvel op.
c. Jan rijdt de auto de heuvel op.
  Jan drives  the car  the hill  onto
  'Jan is driving the car onto the hill.'
c'. ?? Jan rijdt de auto op de heuvel.

Now that we have repeated some of the basic distinctions between the various types of spatial adpositional phrases, we can continue by discussing their behavior with respect to topicalization, scrambling, PP-over-V, and R-extraction: Subsection II starts by discussing spatial complementives denoting a (change) of location, which is followed by a discussion of the directional complementives in Subsection III.

[+]  II.  Locational constructions

This subsection investigates four syntactic properties of the predicative constructions in (19), which express a (change of) location of the referent of the noun phrase het boek'the book', subsequently, we will discuss topicalization, scrambling, and PP-over-V of, and R-extraction from the adpositional complementives.

Example 19
a. Het boek lag gisteren op de tafel.
  the book  lay  yesterday  on the table
b. Jan legde het boek net op de tafel.
  Jan put  the book  just  on the table
  'Jan put the book on the table just now.'
[+]  A.  Topicalization

The examples in (20) show that topicalization of a predicative adpositional phrase denoting (change of) location is easily possible.

Example 20
a. Op de tafel lag gisteren een boek.
  on the table  lay  yesterday  a book
b. Op de tafel legde Jan net een boek.
  on the table  put  Jan just  a book
[+]  B.  Scrambling

Generally speaking, scrambling of locational complementives gives rise to degraded results. As is shown in (21), the locational PP normally immediately precedes, that is, is left-adjacent to the verb(s) in clause-final position.

Example 21
a. dat het boek <*op de tafel> gisteren <op de tafel> lag.
  that  the book     on the table  yesterday  lay
b. dat Jan <*op de tafel> het boek <*op de tafel> net <op de tafel> legde.
  that  Jan     on the table  the book  just  put
  'that Jan put the book on the table just now.'

There are, however, at least two exceptions to this general rule. First, if the locational complementive is assigned emphatic focus (indicated by italics) or if it is preceded by a focus particle like zelfs'even', scrambling is possible. So, whereas scrambling is excluded in the neutrally pronounced (22a), it is possible in (22b&c).

Example 22
a. dat Jan <*in de vaas> rozen <in de vaas> zet.
  that  Jan     in the vase  roses  puts
  'that Jan probably puts the roses in the vase.'
b. dat Jan <in deze vaas> rozen <in deze vaas> zet.
  that  Jan    in this vase  roses  puts
c. dat Jan zelfs <in deze vaas> rozen <in deze vaas> zet.
  that  Jan even   in this vase  roses  puts
  'that Jan even puts roses in this vase.'

Second, example (23b) shows that scrambling is also licensed if the located and reference object are quantified. At first sight, the two variants in (23a&b) seem to have the same meaning in (23c): for every vase (in the domain of discourse), there is a rose such that Jan puts that rose in it. The main difference seems to be that the order in which the noun phrase een roos precedes the PP requires emphatic focus on the noun phrase.

Example 23
a. ? dat Jan een roos in elke vaas stopte.
  that  Jan a rose  in every vase  put
b. dat Jan in elke vaas een roos stopte.
  that  Jan in every vase  a rose  put
c. ∀x (vase (x) → ∃y (rose (y) ∧ Jan put y in x))

The claim that the two orders in (23a&b) express the same meaning is wrong, however, given that the two orders in (24a&b) do express different meanings. The most prominent reading of (24a) is that one of Janʼs fingers is put in all bowls (e.g., Jan is tasting the content of each bowl by using the forefinger of his right hand), whereas (24b) is most readily interpreted as involving more fingers, with each finger put in another bowl. If these intuitions are correct, we may conclude that the two orders differ in the relative scope of the two quantified nouns, as is formally expressed in (24a'&b').

Example 24
a. dat Jan een vinger in elk schaaltje stopt.
  that  Jan  a finger  in every bowl  puts
  'that Jan puts a finger in every bowl.'
a'. ∃x (finger (x) ∧ ∀y (bowl (y) → Jan puts x in y))
b. dat Jan in elk schaaltje een vinger stopt.
  that  Jan in every bowl  a finger  puts
  'that Jan puts a finger in every bowl.'
b'. ∀x (bowl (x) → ∃y (finger (y) ∧ Jan puts y in x))

The conclusion that the order of the noun phrase and the PP (24a&b) reflects the relative scope of the two phrases also accounts for the fact that placing the PP left-adjacent to the verb gives rise to a somewhat marked result in (23a) if the sentence is pronounced without emphatic focus on the noun phrase: the resulting interpretation that there is only one rose, which is put in every vase, does not refer to a plausible situation.
      The discussion in this subsection strongly suggests that scrambling of locational PPs is excluded unless they are assigned emphatic focus or the relative scope of the located and the reference objects is indicated.

[+]  C.  PP-over-V

Although the precise judgments on status of the primed examples in (25) seem to differ somewhat among speakers, the general consensus seems to be that PP-over-V of complementive adpositional phrases denoting a (change of) location gives rise to a degraded result.

Example 25
a. dat het boek op de tafel lag.
  that  the book  on the table  lay
  'that the book lay on the table.'
a'. *? dat het boek lag op de tafel.
b. dat Jan het boek op de tafel legde.
  that  Jan the book  on the table  put
  'that Jan put the book on the table.'
b'. *? dat Jan het boek legde op de tafel.

It should be noted, however, that the ban on PP-over-V is lifted if we are dealing with particle verbs or certain prefixed verbs. Example (26) illustrates this for the particle verb neerleggen'to put down'; we will return to this fact in Section 4.2.1.2, sub II and III.

Example 26
a. dat Jan het boek op de tafel neer legde.
  that  Jan the book  on the table  down  put
  'that Jan put the book down on the table.'
b. dat Jan het boek neer legde op de tafel.
[+]  D.  R-extraction

R-extraction from predicative adpositional phrases denoting a (change of) location is possible. The examples in (27) illustrate this by means of a relative clause, in which the relative R-pronoun corresponds to the complement of the locational adposition.

Example 27
a. de tafel waar het boek op lag
  the table  where  the book  on  lay
  'the table that the book lay on'
b. de tafel waar Jan het boek op legde
  the table  where  Jan the book  on  put
  'the table that Jan put the book on'
[+]  E.  Conclusion

The previous subsections have shown that whereas locational complementives do allow topicalization, they cannot be scrambled or in extraposed position. Furthermore, we have seen that these complementive readily allow R-extraction, subsection III will show that directional complementives exhibit more or lesss the same behavior.

[+]  III.  Directional constructions

Locational adpositional phrase are generally prepositional, whereas the examples in (28) show that directional ones can be pre-, post- or circumpositional. Below we will see that these three types of adpositional phrases exhibit different behavior with respect to the four syntactic processes under discussion.

Example 28
a. Jan reed naar zijn buitenhuis.
prepositional
  Jan drove  to his country.house
b. Jan reed de berg op.
postpositional
  Jan drove  the mountain  onto
  'Jan drove onto the mountain.'
c. Jan sprong van de tafel af.
circumpositional
  Jan jumped  from the table  af
  'Jan jumped from the table.'
[+]  A.  Topicalization

Topicalization of directional complementives requires that contrastive accent be assigned to some specific part of the adpositional phrase; the part that must be accented depends on whether we are dealing with a pre-, post- or circum-positional phrase. Example (29a) shows that topicalization of a prepositional phrase requires that the nominal complement of the PP be assigned contrastive accent (indicated by small caps). Topicalization of a postpositional phrase, as in (29b), requires that the postposition be assigned contrastive accent; if the accent is on the complement of the postposition, the complement may be topicalized but the postposition must be stranded in its original position. Topicalization of a circumpositional phrase requires that contrastive accent be assigned to the second part of the adposition, as in (29c).

Example 29
a. Naar zijn buitenhuis reed Jan.
  to his country.house  drove  Jan
b. De berg op reed Jan (niet af).
  the mountain  onto  drove  Jan  not down
b'. De berg <*op> reed Jan <op> (niet de brug).
  the mountain    onto  drove  Jan   not the bridge
c. Van de tafel af sprong Jan.
  from the table  af  jumped  Jan
[+]  B.  Scrambling

The examples in (30) show that, just as in the case of the predicatively used locational PPs, scrambling is generally excluded with directional PPs. Example (30a') is excluded and cannot even be saved by giving emphatic accent to the PP. The same thing holds for (30b'), although it may be worthwhile to note that scrambling of the nominal complement of the postposition, as in (30b''), does lead to an acceptable result. The (c)-examples show that Scrambling of circumpositional phrases is again excluded.

Example 30
a. dat Jan met zijn dienstauto naar zijn buitenhuis reed.
  that  Jan with his company.car  to his country.house  drove
a'. * dat Jan naar zijn buitenhuis met zijn dienstauto reed.
b. dat Jan snel de berg op reed.
  that  Jan quickly  the mountain  up  drove
b'. * dat Jan de berg op snel reed.
b''. dat Jan de berg snel op reed.
c. dat Jan snel van de tafel af sprong.
  that  Jan quickly  from the table  af  jumped
c'. * dat Jan van de tafel af snel sprong.
[+]  C.  PP-over-V

The examples in (31) show that, just as in the case of the predicatively used locational PPs, PP-over-V of directional adpositional phrases leads to a degraded result.

Example 31
a. dat Jan naar zijn buitenhuis reed.
  that  Jan to his country.house  drove
a'. *? dat Jan reed naar zijn buitenhuis.
b. dat Jan de berg op reed.
  that  Jan the mountain  onto  drove
b'. * dat Jan reed de berg op.
c. dat Jan van de tafel af sprong.
  that  Jan from the table  af  jumped
c'. * dat Jan sprong van de tafel af.
[+]  D.  R-extraction

R-extraction from directional prepositional phrases gives rise to a degraded result. This is illustrated in (32a) by means of a relative clause, in which the relative pronoun corresponds to the complement of the directional preposition naar; see Section 5.2.1, sub IB for a more detailed discussion. R-extraction from postpositional phrases is excluded as well; example (32b) is allowed but strongly favors a locational reading of the adposition op, which shows that we are dealing with the pre-, not the postposition op. Example (32c) shows that R-extraction from circumpositional phrases, on the other hand, is easily possible.

Example 32
a. * het buitenhuis waar Jan naar reed
  the country.house  where  Jan to  drove
b. # de berg waar Jan op reed
  the mountain  where  Jan onto  drove
c. de tafel waar Jan van af sprong
  the table  where  Jan from  af  jumped

Example (33b) shows that (32a) becomes grammatical if the element toe is added, but that is not surprising in the light of the acceptability of (32c) given that we are probably dealing then with the circumposition naar ... toe from (33a). It is not clear whether the unacceptability of (32a) should be attributed to some (unknown) syntactic constraint or whether the acceptable example in (33b) is preferred for some reason and thus blocks realization of (32a).

Example 33
a. Jan reed naar het buitenhuis toe.
  Jan drove  to the country.house  toe
b. het buitenhuis waar Jan naar *(toe) reed
  the country.house  where  Jan to     toe  drove

      In order to obtain a directional reading in (32b), waar must be replaced by the relative pronoun die'that' as in (34b). This is remarkable given the fact that the relative pronoun die gives rise to an ungrammatical result in prepositional and circumpositional constructions like (34a&c).

Example 34
a. * het buitenhuis die Jan naar (toe) reed
  the country.house  that  Jan to  toe  drove
b. de berg die Jan op reed
  the mountain  that  Jan onto  drove
c. * de tafel die Jan van af sprong
  the table  that  Jan from  af  jumped

Note in passing that the judgments on the (b)-examples in (32) and (34) are somewhat idealized and actually vary somewhat among speakers. Further, there are some postpositional constructions in which the R-pronoun can also be used. Since discussing these data in detail would lead to a laborious digression, we postpone this issue to Section 5.2.2.
      The acceptability of (34b) is probably related to the fact that the postposition and its nominal complement need not be adjacent: the nominal complement can be topicalized, as in (29b') repeated below as (35a); it can be scrambled, as in (35b), and in the southern varieties of Dutch it can be separated from the postposition by incorporation of the latter into the verb cluster, as in (35c).

Example 35
a. De berg reed Jan op (niet de brug).
  the mountain  drove  Jan onto   not the bridge
b. Jan reed de berg snel op.
  Jan drove  the mountain  quickly  onto
c. % dat Jan de berg wou op rijden.
  that  Jan the mountain  wanted  onto  drive
  'that Jan wanted to drive onto the mountain.'

Although the complement of the postposition seems to behave in this respect as an independent constituent, it is important to note that it is assigned case not by the verb but by the postposition. This is clear from the fact that examples such as (36a) cannot be passivized; actually, the fact that verbs of traversing are unaccusative a priori militates against assuming that the noun phrase de berg is assigned accusative case by the verb rijden'to drive' in (36a).

Example 36
a. dat Jan de berg snel op reed.
  that  Jan the mountain  quickly  onto  drove
b. * dat de berg snel werd op gereden.
  that  the mountain  quickly  was  onto  driven

The claim that it is the postposition op that assigns case to the noun phrase de berg is also supported by the fact that it is the located object de autoʼs'the cars' that is assigned accusative case by the verb in the resultative construction in (37b); as expected, passivization results in promotion of the located object to subject, and not of the reference object de berg'the mountain', as can be readily verified from (the lack of) number agreement between the noun phrases and the finite verb in (37b).

Example 37
a. dat Jan de autoʼs de berg op reed.
  that  Jan the car  the mountain  onto  drove
  'that Jan drove the car onto the mountain.'
b. dat de autoʼspl de bergsg werdenpl op gereden.
  that  the cars  the mountain  were  onto  driven
  'that the cars were driven onto the mountain.'
[+]  IV.  Summary

Table 3 summarizes the discussion of the syntactic behavior of predicatively used spatial adpositional phrases in the previous subsections. Recall that the ban on scrambling of the locational PPs is lifted if the PP is contrastively focused or if the located and reference object are quantified; see the discussion of the examples in (22) and (23). R-extraction is possible from directional circumpositional phrases, but not from pre- and postpositional ones. This means that there is also a contrast between locational and directional prepositional phrases in this respect, but it is not clear whether this difference is syntactically motivated or whether some other constraint is involved; see the discussion of (32a) and (33).

Table 3: Predicatively used spatial adpositional phrases
  locational directional
topicalization + +
scrambling
PP-over-V
R-extraction + — (pre- and postpositions)
+ (circumpositions)

References:
    Suggestions for further reading ▼
    phonology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    morphology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    syntax
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    • 1.1.2.2. Complementive use
      [96%] Dutch > Syntax > Adpositions and adpositional phrases > 1 Characteristics and classification > 1.1. Characterization of the category adposition > 1.1.2. Syntactic uses of adpositional phrases
    • 4.2.1.2. Non-spatial constructions
      [95%] Dutch > Syntax > Adpositions and adpositional phrases > 4 Syntactic uses of the adpositional phrase > 4.2. Predicative use of adpositional phrases > 4.2.1. Complementives
    • 2.2.1. Tests for distinguishing PP-complements from PP-adjuncts
      [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 2 Projection of noun phrases I: complementation > 2.2. Prepositional and nominal complements
    • 2.2.3. Resultative constructions
      [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 2 Projection of verb phrases I:Argument structure > 2.2. Complementives (secondary predicates)
    • 1.3.1.3. Postpositions
      [94%] Dutch > Syntax > Adpositions and adpositional phrases > 1 Characteristics and classification > 1.3. A semantic classification of adpositional phrases > 1.3.1. Spatial adpositions
    Show more ▼
    cite
    print
    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.