• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
7.1.5.1. The use of allemaal as a modifier of a noun phrase
quickinfo

The section discusses the use of allemaal as a modifier of the noun phrase. We will start by showing that this use is limited in the sense that it is only possible in bare (determiner-less) indefinite noun phrases. Subsection II will show that the modifier allemaal does not contribute universal quantification; this interpretation of allemaal is only found in its prototypical use as a floating quantifier, which will be discussed in Section 7.1.5.2, sub II. Subsection III will conclude with a discussion of the restrictions allemaal imposes on accompanying determiners and quantificational elements.

readmore
[+]  I.  Distribution of allemaal inside the noun phrase

The use of allemaal as a modifier of the noun phrase is limited in the sense that it is only possible in bare (determiner-less) indefinite noun phrases: Table 9 shows that allemaal combines neither with singular count noun phrases, nor with plural noun phrases headed by a definite determiner (which is possible in, e.g., West-Flemish).

Table 9: Allemaal in noun phrases headed by a count noun
  singular plural
definite *allemaal het boek
altogether the book
*allemaal de boeken
altogether the books
indefinite *allemaal een boek
altogether a book
allemaal boeken
altogether books
‘all kinds of books’

Allemaal is also prohibited in noun phrases headed by pluralia tantum, like (120a), and in noun phrases headed by plurals that denote a conventionally fixed unit, like (120b).

Example 120
a. * allemaal tropen
  altogether  tropics
b. * allemaal Verenigde Staten
  altogether  United States

      The examples in (121) show that allemaal readily allows construal with the bare non-count nouns in (121), and the same thing holds for the deverbal nouns in (122), with the exception of the nominal infinitive. Note that adding a definite or indefinite article to these examples will result in ungrammaticality.

Example 121
Allemaal in noun phrases headed by a non-count noun
a. allemaal wijn/fruit/suiker/vlees
substance nouns
  altogether  wine/fruit/sugar/meat
b. allemaal vee/gevogelte
mass nouns
  altogether  cattle/fowl
c. allemaal ellende/verdriet/onzin
abstract nouns
  altogether  misery/sorrow/nonsense
Example 122
Allemaal in noun phrases headed by a deverbal noun
a. allemaal werk
bare stem
  altogether  work
b. allemaal gedoe/gezeur/?gewerk
ge-nominalization
  altogether  fuss/nagging/work
c. * allemaal werken
inf-nominalization
  altogether  work

      Noun phrases modified by allemaal are typically weak, which is clear from the fact illustrated in (123) that, when used as a subject, they normally require the expletive er to be present. The primed examples of (123), in which the modified noun phrase is topicalized across the expletive, clearly show that allemaal forms a constituent with the noun following it (the constituency test).

Example 123
a. Er liggen allemaal boeken in de gang.
  there  lie  altogether books  in the hall
a'. Allemaal boeken liggen *(er) in de gang.
  altogether books  lie  there  in the hall
b. Er valt allemaal stof op de grond.
  there  falls  altogether dust  on the floor
b'. Allemaal stof valt *(er) op de grond.
  altogether dust  falls  there  on the floor

Having established that the only types of noun phrases that allemaal can form a constituent with are bare plurals and bare non-count nouns, we will moe on to discuss the meaning of allemaal as a modifier of the noun phrase and the restrictions it imposes on other elements with the noun phrase.

[+]  II.  Semantics

Though allemaal can be used as a modifier in noun phrases headed by a plural count noun or a non-count noun, it should be noted that it does not contribute universal quantification in this case: an example such as allemaal boeken cannot be rendered by means of “all books” in English. In this respect the dependent use of allemaal differs from its prototypical use as a floating quantifier, which is discussed in Section 7.1.5.2, sub II. The following subsections discuss the semantic contributions that dependent allemaal can make.

[+]  A.  Sorting (“all kinds/sorts of”)

Examples such as allemaal boeken with count nouns typically receive a “sorting” interpretation: “all kinds of books”; this reading is sometimes also available for the non-count nouns in (121), depending on context. Haeseryn et al. (1997) qualifies this usage of allemaal as typical for the informal register; it is indeed extremely widespread in spoken Dutch, and exceedingly rare in formal written language. On this “sorting” reading, allemaal can often be replaced with allerlei (or archaic allerhande), although the resulting examples involving a substance noun seem somewhat degraded.

Example 124
a. allerlei ∅ boeken
  all-sorts [of]  books
b. allerlei ?wijn/?fruit/*?suiker/??vlees
  all-sorts [of]    wine/fruit/sugar/meat
b'. allerlei vee/gevogelte
  all-sorts [of]  cattle/fowl
b''. allerlei ellende/verdriet/onzin
  all-sorts [of]  misery/sorrow/nonsense
[+]  B.  High degree quantification (“lots of”)

Just like alle (cf. Section 7.1.1, sub III), allemaal may receive a high degree interpretation. This is often the more natural interpretation for the substance nouns in (121). It seems that pragmatics and grammatical/semantic context may both affect the choice between the two readings in (125). For example, it seems that the expletive er construction favors the high degree interpretation.

Example 125
a. Ik heb allemaal fruit gekocht.
  have  altogether  fruit  bought
  Possible reading: 'Iʼve bought all kinds/sorts of fruits.'
  Possible reading: 'Iʼve bought lots of fruits.'
b. Er ligt allemaal suiker op tafel.
  there  lies  altogether sugar  on the.table
  Possible reading: 'Thereʼs lots of sugar lying on the table.'
  Impossible reading: 'There are all sorts/kinds of sugar lying on the table.'

The high degree interpretation of allemaal is available for bare plurals as well, especially if used in existential/presentational er constructions; to obtain the “all kinds/sorts of” reading in (126b), allerlei will normally be used instead.

Example 126
a. Ik heb allemaal fouten gemaakt.
  have  altogether mistakes  made
  Possible reading: 'Iʼve made all sorts of mistakes.'
  Marginallypossible reading: 'Iʼve made lots of mistakes.'
b. Er zitten allemaal fouten in de tekst.
  there  sit  altogether  mistakes  in the text
  Possible reading: 'There are lots of mistakes in the text.'
  Impossible reading: 'There are all sorts of mistakes in the text.'
[+]  C.  Very high degree quantification (“nothing but”)

The very high degree interpretation of allemaal can be paraphrased with the aid of niets dan'nothing but'. In Standard Dutch (but not in, e.g., West-Flemish), this reading is restricted to predicatively used abstract non-count nouns like ellende'misery' and onzin'nonsense'; the examples in (127a) are typical cases of this interpretation of allemaal. It is not entirely clear, however, whether allemaal ellende/onzin must be construed as a constituent or not, or whether allemaal is a floating quantifier associated with the demonstrative dat. Topicalization, as in (127b&b'), does not give a robust result; neither example is particularly felicitous, but neither seems ungrammatical either. We will see in Section 7.1.5.2, sub II, however, that the nominal predicate can be replaced by an adjectival one (e.g., Dat is allemaal erg raar'That is all very strange'), which suggests that it is at least possible to interpret allemaal as a floating quantifier associated with dat.

Example 127
a. Dat is allemaal ellende/onzin!
  that is  altogether  misery/nonsense
  'That is nothing but misery/nonsense!'
b. ? Allemaal ellende/onzin is dat!
b'. ?? Ellende/Onzin is dat allemaal!
[+]  III.  Restrictions on accompanying determiners and quantificational elements

The introduction to this section has shown that allemaal can only be construed with bare noun phrases in Standard Dutch. This was demonstrated only for articles, but it holds also for demonstratives and possessives. Occasionally, examples such as (128a) can be found in which allemaal seems to form a constituent with a +human personal pronoun. It should be noted, however, that, insofar as (128a) is acceptable, it involves universal quantification: since this is the reading typically found with the floating quantifier allemaal in the primed examples in (128), this casts doubt on the assumption that we are dealing with a modifier; see Section 7.1.5.2, sub II, for more on the floating quantifier use of allemaal.

Example 128
a. ?? (Wat die kinderen betreft,) zij allemaal zijn erg slim.
  what those children concerns  they altogether  are  very smart
a'. Zij/Ze zijn allemaal erg slim.
  they  are  altogether  very smart
  'They are all very smart.'
b. * (Wat die problemen betreft,) zij allemaal zijn zeer ernstig.
  what those problems concerns  they altogether  are  very serious
b'. Ze zijn allemaal erg ernstig.
  they  are  altogether  very serious
  'Theyʼre all very serious.'

If we assume that we may dismiss examples such as (128a) as irrelevant, we can maintain that allemaal can only form a constituent with bare plurals and bare non-count nouns. It should be noted, however, that these categories allow the insertion of the indefinite determiner-like elements dat/dit/zulk soort'such' between allemaal and the noun phrase, albeit that for the majority of speakers these elements must be preceded by van in constructions such as (129).

Example 129
a. Ze kraamt allemaal %(van) dat/dit/zulk soort onzin uit.
  she  screams  altogether     of  that/this/such sort nonsense  prt.
  'Sheʼs uttering lots of/nothing but such nonsense.'
b. Er zitten allemaal %(van) dat/dit/zulk soort fouten in deze tekst.
  there  sit  altogether     of  that/this/such sort mistakes in this text
  'This text is full of such mistakes.'

The question that arises with respect to the examples with van is whether we are dealing with a partitive construction here. This question is difficult to answer with certainty, but if these are partitive constructions, they are anomalous in the sense that the felicity of van depends entirely on the presence of the indefinite determiner-like elements dat/dit/zulk soort; in the absence of these, the examples in (129) are ungrammatical.

Example 130
a. * allemaal van onzin
  altogether  of  nonsense
b. * allemaal van fouten
  altogether  of  mistakes

      The ungrammatical examples in (130) can be salvaged by placing die between van and the noun, as shown in (131). These noun phrases instantiate the pseudo-partitive van die N construction discussed in Section 5.2.3.2, sub IIE, whose semantics is close to that of zulke N and can best be rendered in English as “such Ns”.

Example 131
a. allemaal van die onzin
  altogether  of  such nonsense
b. allemaal van die fouten
  all-sorts  of those (= such)  mistakes

Allemaal thus differs from the other al-quantifiers in being the only one that can precede pseudo-partitive phrases, where it receives the “sorting” interpretation discussed in Section 7.1.5.1, sub IIA. Given that we have seen there that on this reading allemaal generally alternates with allerlei, it does not come as a surprise that examples (129b) and (131b) have grammatical counterparts featuring allerlei, as shown in (132); although some speakers may object to these examples, they occur frequently on the internet.

Example 132
a. allerlei %(van) dat/dit/zulk soort fouten
  all-sorts     of  that/this/such sort mistakes
b. allerlei van die fouten
  all-sorts  of those (= such)  mistakes

      Finally, it can be noted that it is impossible for allemaal to be used as a modifier with noun phrases that are independently quantified, as shown in (133).

Example 133
a. (*allemaal) enige/sommige boeken
  altogether  some  books
b. (*allemaal) veel/weinig boeken
  altogether   many/few  books
c. (*allemaal) tien boeken
  altogether  ten  books
d. (*allemaal) elke/iedere wijn
  altogether  every  wine
[+]  IV.  Allemaal, definiteness and inflection

Example (134) shows that the modifier allemaal does not behave like a definite determiner when it comes to the determination of adjectival inflection; the attributively used adjective slim cannot be inflected. In this respect allemaal exhibits the same behavior as the quantifier alle in the somewhat marginal example (70a) in Section 7.1.2.2, sub IIB, although the two cannot serve as each otherʼs paraphrase; while alle in (70a) expresses universal quantification, allemaal in (134) has the “sorting” interpretation mentioned in Section 7.1.5.1, sub IIA.

Example 134
Allemaal slim/*slimme geknoei in de handel.
  altogether  clever  fiddling  in the commerce
'all sorts of clever fiddling in commerce'

Externally, noun phrases modified by allemaal also behave like weak noun phrases, which is evident from the fact that they can occur as the subject in expletive er constructions; cf. (125b) and (126b), repeated here as (135).

Example 135
a. Er ligt allemaal suiker op tafel.
  there  lies  altogether sugar  on the.table
  'Thereʼs lots of sugar lying on the table.'
b. Er zitten allemaal fouten in de tekst.
  there  sit  altogether  mistakes  in the text
  'There are lots of mistakes in the text.'
References:
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • Quantifiers
    [84%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • Cardinal numbers
    [83%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • In prenominal position
    [83%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Ellipsis
    [83%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Ellipsis
    [82%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Nouns
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • Inf-nominalization (Infinitival nominals)
    [83%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification > 1.3 Derivation of nouns > 1.3.1. Deverbal nouns
  • Mood
    [82%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification
  • Constructions with APs
    [80%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Adjective Phrases > Characteristics and classification
  • Finite declarative complement clauses: Construction forms
    [79%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 5. Complement Clauses > 5.1. Finite declarative complement clauses
  • Root semantics
    [78%] Afrikaans > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1. Characterization and classification > 1.5. Tense, modality and aspect > 1.5.2. Modality
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.