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Show full table of contents Post-determiner quantificational heel

With adjectival heel properly set apart from the other occurrences of heel, in what follows we will concentrate on the quantificational readings of post-determiner heel. Post-determiner quantificational heel can be divided into three subtypes, which respectively express totality, degree and polarity.

[+]  I.  Totality

By far the most common quantificational contribution made by post-determiner inflectible heel is that of “totality”. An example such as de stad differs semantically from de hele stad'the whole city' in the same way that their English translations “the city” and “the whole/entire city” differ: de hele stad denotes the totality of the town, the town in its entirety. That heel in its totality sense is quantificational is evident from the fact that it does not combine with helemaal, as seen in (184).

Example 184
a. De hele zon is van gas.
  the  whole sun  is  of gas
b. De zon is helemaal van gas.
  the sun  is entirely  of gas
c. * De hele zon is helemaal van gas.
  the whole sun  is entirely  of gas

      The totality sense of inflectible heel comes close to that of pre-determiner bare heel discussed in Section, which is clear from the fact that it is impossible to combine the two varieties of heel within a single noun phrase.

Example 185
a. heel mijn bezit
  all  my  estate
b. mijn hele bezit
  my  whole  estate
c. * heel mijn hele bezit
  all  my  whole  estate

But despite the close semantic relationship between pre-determiner bare heel and post-determiner heel, there is an important difference between the two. Whereas pre-determiner bare heel forces an exhaustive partitioning of the whole into all of its relevant subparts, no such partitioning is necessarily implied by post-determiner heel (though a partitioning reading seems compatible with post-determiner heel in many cases). As a consequence, some of the semantic anomalies that we found with bare heel dissolve if pre-determiner bare heel is replaced by post-determiner inflectible heel. We illustrate this in the examples below, referring the reader back to the more detailed discussion in Section 7.2.1.
      Consider the examples in (186). What (186a) means is that the entire house has been cleaned from top to bottom, not necessarily that all the individual rooms of the house have been cleaned. As a reflex of this, the cleaning in (186a) need not be directed towards the interior of the house but can also involve the exterior of the house, which would be distinctly odd in the case of Heel het huis is schoongemaakt'All the house has been cleaned' in (168). Similarly, the noun phrases in (186b&c) simply refer to the entire motorboat/house, and, as a result, these examples are perfectly acceptable in contrast to those in (169), where reference is made to all the relevant subparts of the motorboat/house.

Example 186
a. Het hele huis is schoongemaakt.
  the whole house  is clean.made
b. De hele motorboot gaat heen en weer.
  the whole motorboat  goes  to and fro (≈ is rocking)
c. Het hele huis is bedolven onder de modder.
  the whole house  is buried  under the mud

The examples in (166) in Section 7.2.1 have shown that pre-determiner heel, as a consequence of the unit feature of its semantics, bars the noun phrases which it quantifies from occurring in distributive contexts. Post-determiner heel does not turn out to be sensitive to this distributivity effect: the examples in (187) are perfectly acceptable due to the fact that heel simply expresses that the predicate affects the referent of the noun phrase in its entirety.

Example 187
a. Ik heb de hele film mijn volle aandacht gegeven.
  have  the whole movie  my full attention  given
  'I gave the entire movie my full attention.'
b. Ik heb aandachtig naar de hele film zitten kijken.
  have  attentively  to the whole movie  sit  look
  'I watched the entire movie attentively.'

      The examples in (170) have shown that modifiers expressing an exception give rise to a marked result in noun phrases featuring pre-determiner bare heel. Again, we find that post-determiner heel behaves differently: the sentences in (188a&b) are perfectly acceptable with the “except”-clause present. This will be clear from the fact that a Google search (July 2008 ) on the strings [ heel de serie behalve] and [ de hele serie behalve] resulted in, respectively, 1 and 18 hits.

Example 188
a. Het hele kantoorgebouw (behalve de begane grond) is verhuurd.
  the whole office block   except the ground floor  is rented.out
b. De hele Veiligheidsraad (behalve China) stemde voor de resolutie.
  the whole Security Council   except China  voted  for the resolution
c. Ik heb de hele serie (behalve deel 28).
  have  the whole series  except volume 28

Since post-determiner heel and half do not force a partitioning of the object denoted by the noun they combine with, the friction between “totally affecting” predicates and the pre-determiner half in (172) is lacking in the case of post-determiner half in (189). The examples in (189) simply assert that the predicate expressed by the verb phrase holds for, respectively, a hundred or fifty per cent of the island/village.

Example 189
a. Het hele/halve eiland lag bezaaid met bloemen.
  the whole/half island  lay be-seeded  with flowers
b. Het hele/halve dorp werd leeggeroofd.
  the whole/half village  was  robbed.empty
[+]  II.  Degree

The quantificational interpretations in which heel means “total” and half means “fifty per cent of” compete with an alternative reading of these sentences in which heel and half express degree. This reading is discussed in this subsection.

[+]  A.  Metaphor (high/moderate degree)

The modifiers heel and half in the examples of the type in (190) typically contribute the semantics of “(moderately) high degree”; the examples receive an interpretation according to which the verbal proposition is predicated to a substantial degree of the noun phrase containing heel/half. Metaphorical examples of the type in (190) are particularly common in the context of (more or lesss fixed expressions of) exaggeration. Although the degree modifiers heel and half are equally possible in (190), the two differ in that the degree to which the verbal proposition holds is understood to be stronger when heel is used than when half is used. This difference is not very robust, though.

Example 190
a. Komt er ineens een hele/halve volksverhuizing op me af!
  comes  there  suddenly  a whole/half mass migration  at me  prt.
  'All of a sudden a load of people comes running towards me!'
b. Hij kreeg een hele/halve zondvloed op zʼn dak.
  he  got  a whole/half deluge  on his roof
  'He got drenched.'

      The degree reading is also obtainable in the examples in (189), repeated here as (191). In these examples, however, this is easiest with the modifier halve, which on its degree reading expresses that there were quite a large number of flowers spread out across the island, and that quite a few objects in the village were stolen in the robbery. Degree readings of this type with heel are only readily available in metaphorical cases like the ones in (190); in examples such as (191) they seem harder to get.

Example 191
a. Het hele/halve eiland lag bezaaid met bloemen.
  the whole/half island  lay be-seeded  with flowers
b. Het hele/halve dorp werd leeggeroofd.
  the whole/half village  was  robbed.empty

      Noun phrases containing the degree modifiers heel/half require that main accent be on the noun: een hele/halve volksverhuizing in (190a) and het halve dorp in (191b). Noun phrases containing the quantifiers heel/half meaning “100/50%”, on the other hand, require that main accent be placed on the quantifier: (189b) will be realized as het halve dorp.

[+]  B.  The “quite” degree reading

In sentences of the type in (192), the semantics of inflectible heel is also one of degree modification, which is best rendered by means of English quite. In contrast to the metaphorical high degree cases in (190), inflectible heel in (192) does not alternate with half, but with adjectival intensifiers like behoorlijk, flink'quite', generally with little or no difference in meaning.

Example 192
a. Dat is een heel/behoorlijk gedoe.
  that  is  whole/quite  hassle
  'That is quite a hassle.'
b. Dat is een hele/behoorlijke toer/toestand.
  that  is  whole/quite  tour de force/situation
  'That is quite a tour de force.'
c. Ze maakten een hele/flinke scène.
  they  made  whole/quite  scene
  'They made quite a scene.'
d. Dat was een hele/flinke opluchting.
  that was a whole/quite  relief
  'That was quite a relief.'

The “quite” degree reading is impossible to obtain in definite noun phrases; examples such as (193a) are only acceptable on the totality interpretation of heel. But indefinite noun phrases with determiners other than the article een do not allow the “quite” degree reading either, as shown by the unacceptability of (193b&c). We therefore conclude that the “quite” degree reading of inflectible heel is contingent on the presence of the indefinite article een.

Example 193
a. # Ik ben het/dat/dit (hele) gedoe moe.
  am  the/that/this  whole  hassle  weary
  'Iʼm weary of the/that/this whole hassle.'
b. Dat is zoʼn (*heel) gedoe.
  that is  so a  whole  hassle
c. Dat is van dat (*hele) gedoe.
  that is  such  whole  hassle

      Finally, note that inflectible heel may also modify the pronoun wat in (194a). Example (194b) shows that in this case heel also alternates with adjectival intensifiers like behoorlijk and flink'quite'. However, as is indicated by the English translations, one of the possible interpretations of heel wat is lacking in the constructions with adjectival intensifiers.

Example 194
a. Dat is heel wat.
  that is  quite  what
  'That is quite something/a lot.'
b. Dat is behoorlijk/flink wat.
  that  is quite  what
  'That is quite a lot.'
[+]  C.  Binominal constructions: alternation between high and “quite” degree

The interpretation of heel in binominal noun phrases of the type in (195) is varied, in a rather subtle way. Three interpretations are available for examples of this type. The high and “quite” degree interpretations of heel arise if the noun verzameling/lading is quantificational, whereas the adjectival meaning “complete” requires that the noun verzameling/lading is referential, that is, assigned its literal meaning “collection/load”; see Section for discussion.

Example 195
a. Ik heb een hele verzameling boeken gekocht.
  have  whole  collection  books  bought
b. Ik heb een hele lading boeken gekocht.
  have  whole  load  books  bought

Example (196) aims at bringing out the prosodic differences between the three interpretations of heel. The representations show that the two types of degree reading with the quantificational construal of verzameling require a single stress peak on the noun verzameling. The high degree reading “a very large amount/number” in (196a) furthermore requires lengthening of the vowel, and the “quite” degree reading “quite a few” in (196b) requires an additional stress peak on the degree modifier heel. On the referential reading of verzameling, which can be easily be distinguished from the other uses by adding, e.g., a possessive pronoun, the adjective heel receives main stress.

Example 196
a. een hele verza—meling boeken
high degree
b. een hele verzameling boeken
“quite” degree
c. een/zijn hele verzameling boeken
purely adjectival: “complete”

Note that the properties of the high degree reading of inflectible heel in (196a) are also salient in metaphorical “high degree” examples like those in (190): Hele genera—ties hebben dit lied meegezongen'Whole generations have sung along with this song'. Note also that the prosodic properties of the constructions in (196b&c) are preserved if we replace heel by, respectively, a degree modifier like behoorlijk or an adjective like volledig'complete', but there is nothing that can replace heel on its high degree reading with preservation of the intonation contour in (196a).
      Examples of the type in (195) can be pluralized, but this seems to result in the loss of two of the readings: it is only the high degree interpretation that seems to survive in (197), which is also clear from the fact that the typical intonational pattern for sentences of this type involves main accent on the noun: the stressed vowels of verzamelingen and ladingen receives a prolonged duration. That the adjectival interpretation for hele in (197) is hard to get is also clear from the fact that addition of, e.g., a possessive pronoun to hele verzamelingen is pragmatically odd: #Ik heb mijn hele verzamelingen verkocht'I sold my whole collections'.

Example 197
a. Ik heb hele verza—melingen boeken verkocht.
  have  whole  collections [of]  books  sold
b. Ik heb hele la—dingen boeken verkocht.
  have  whole  loads [of]  books  sold

      The core lexical semantics of heel, viz. totality, may not be entirely absent in these “high degree” examples, as is suggested by the fact that heel can be rendered in English with “whole” or “entire”. For the “quite” degree reading of heel, on the other hand, no translation with English whole or entire is possible in the general case; cf. example (192). This interpretation of heel hence seems far removed from the core quantificational semantics of this element.

[+]  D.  Adverbial heel and degree readings

As is illustrated in (198), a degree interpretation is also possible in the case of adverbial heel, that is, in cases in which heel modifies an attributive or a predicative adjective; cf. Section A3.1.2. Whether heel receives a high or a “quite” degree reading seems to depend on the nature of the adjective with which it is construed. Note that heel cannot be replaced with half in (198); degree modification of adjectives by half is possible only if half and the adjective form a compound (cf. halfzachte/*halve zachte drop'half-soft licorice') and this is not possible with the adjectives in (198).

Example 198
a. Dat is een heel/hele goede prestatie.
high degree
  that  is a very smart accomplishment
b. Dat is een heel/hele redelijke prestatie.
“quite” degree
  that  is a quite reasonable accomplishment

We want to stress that the degree readings of heel are not contingent on its construal as an adverb. That heel is not an adverb in the examples discussed up to (197) is evident from the fact illustrated in (199) that it must inflect in accordance with the gender and number features of the head noun, whereas schwa-inflection is always optional with the adverbial phrases in (198).

Example 199
Dat is een hele/*heel prestatie.
  that  is a  whole  accomplishment
'That is quite an accomplishment.'
[+]  E.  Degree modification of predicative noun phrases

At the end of this discussion of the degree readings of heel, we address some additional types of examples classifiable under the “degree” header that involve predicatively used noun phrases. We start with “quite” degree readings in clauses containing al'already' and nog (best)'actually'. Consider the examples in (200), which differ from the examples discussed so far in that the adverb al'already' must be present.

Example 200
a. Jij bent ??(al) een hele vent/heer/bink!
  you  are  already  whole  guy/gentleman/tough.guy
  'Youʼre quite a guy/gentleman/tough guy already!'
b. Jij bent ??(al) een hele meid/dame!
  you  are  already  whole  girl/lady
  'Youʼre quite a girl/lady already!'
c. Jij bent ??(al) een hele computerexpert!
  you  are  already  whole  computer.expert
  'Youʼre quite a computer expert already!'

Examples like (200a&b) are typically addressed to little boys or girls who are assumed to take pride in looking older and wiser; the “quite” degree resides in the extent to which adulthood has already been “reached” or mimicked by the child in question. Especially in mildly ironic contexts, this type can also be used with nouns other than the ones illustrated in (200a&b), as shown by a sentence like (200c).
      Since sentences of the type in (200) are typically used as statements directed towards an addressee (little children in particular), they usually have second person pronouns as their subjects. They are most common as exclamations (as will be clear from the punctuation used), but constructions of a similar type are also found in (tagged) rhetorical questions. An example is given in (201); notice that in this context the adverb al, which is required in (200), is typically absent.

Example 201
Jij vindt jezelf zeker (#al) een hele vent, hè?
  you  find  yourself  sure  already  a whole guy  right
'You think youʼre quite a guy, donʼt you?'

      In (202) we find a dependency between heel qua degree item and the adverbial nog'still/yet' similar to the kind found in (200) between the heel degree phrases and the adverb al'already'. Nog is often preceded or followed by the form best, which is difficult to render in English; the closest English paraphrase is probably something like “actually”. The two word orders seem semantically equivalent.

Example 202
a. Dat is <best> nog <best> een heel karwei.
  that  is   best  still  a whole job
  'Thatʼs (actually) quite a job.'
b. Dat was <best> nog <best> een hele wandeling.
  that  was   best  still  a whole walk
  'That was (actually) quite a walk.'
c. Dat was <best> nog <best> een heel gedoe.
  that  was   best  still  a whole hassle
  'That was (actually) quite a hassle.'

      One may wonder what the structural position is of the adverbial elements found in (200) and (202). To investigate this question, we will consider the topicalization constructions in (203). It should be noted, however, that judgments for these examples are difficult and will probably vary among speakers. As the primeless examples in (203) show, it seems difficult to leave the adverbs al and nog best/best nog behind under topicalization of the heel phrases, which may indicate that they are subparts of the heel noun phrases.

Example 203
a. ?? Een hele vent ben jij al!
  a whole guy  are  you  already
b. * Een heel karwei is dat nog best!
  a whole job  is that  still best
c. ?? Een heel karwei is dat bestnog!
  a whole job  is that  best still

The observed degradation induced by stranding of these adverbs might be taken to shed light on the dependency relation observed between heel and these adverbs in the examples under discussion. However, it should be pointed out that topicalization of the heel phrases together with the adverbs al and (part of) nog best/best nog does not yield a very felicitous result either.

Example 204
a. ?? Al een hele vent ben jij!
b. ?? Best een heel karwei is dat nog!
b. ?? Nog best een heel karwei is dat!
c. *? Nog een heel karwei is dat best!
c'. ?? Best nog een heel karwei is dat!

An alternative approach would be to assume that al and nog best/best nog are independent constituents, which would account for the degraded status of the pied-piping cases in (204), and to say that the dependency of heel on the adverbs al and nog best/best nog is similar to that between negative polarity items and their licensers; the deviance of stranding al and nog best/best nog in (203) might then follow from the fact that the topicalized heel phrase is outside the licensing domain of the adverb. We leave it to future research to decide whether this suggestion holds water.
      The set of examples in (205) are syntactically similar to those in (200), and partially overlaps in the lexical nouns heading the heel phrases ( vent, heer, dame), but they differ in that in (205) no adverb like al is found. Furthermore, the degree reading introduced by heel is that of high degree, which is directed towards the implicit qualities of the head noun; een hele vent/kerel predicates a high degree of excellence of the subject. Note that, although vent and kerel often carry negative evaluative connotations, in the context in (205a) they are used to give expression to a highly positive quality.

Example 205
a. Hij is een hele vent/kerel/heer.
  he  is a whole guy/fellow/gentleman
  'Heʼs an excellent man/a man of status, social significance.'
b. Zij is een hele dame.
  she  is a whole lady
  'She is a real lady.'

Finally note that the connotation of excellence, implicit in the nouns used in the examples in (205), is apparently lacking in others: examples such as ??Hij is een hele jongen/man/vrouw'a whole boy/man/woman' do not yield the qualitative high degree interpretation of the examples in (205).

[+]  III.  Negative polarity

The negative polarity reading of inflectible heel is comparable to that of English at all, with the added semantic aspect of condescension; cf. Section, sub II. This function of heel is fairly widespread, and some illustrations of it are given in (206). The head noun of the construction can be either a common noun or a proper noun, as in, respectively, (206a-c) and (206d).

Example 206
a. Ik had het hele mens niet gezien.
  had  the whole person  not  seen
  'I didnʼt even see the person/woman at all.'
b. Ik zou die hele jongen nog niet eens een hand willen geven.
  would  that whole boy  yet not even  a hand  want  give
  'I wouldnʼt even want to shake hands with that boy.'
c. Ik had in geen jaren meer over dat hele idee nagedacht.
  had  in no years  anymore  about that whole idea  thought
  'I hadnʼt thought about that idea in years.'
d. Ik was die hele Bert Mulder allang weer vergeten.
  was  that whole Bert Mulder  already.long  again  forgotten
  'Iʼd long forgotten about this Bert Mulder.'
[+]  A.  D-linking

Negative polar heel phrases in (206) are typically D-linked, that is, they cannot be uttered out of the blue, but must refer to some active discourse topic. Example (206a), for instance, would be typically used in a context like (207).

Example 207
Mijn buurvrouw was erg beledigd omdat ik haar niet gegroet had, maar ik had het hele mens niet gezien.
  my neighbor  was very offended  because  her  not  greeted  had but  had  the whole person  not  seen
'My neighbor was very offended because I didnʼt greet her, but I hadnʼt seen the woman at all.'

That D-linking is required is also suggested by the fact illustrated by (215) that, unlike definite noun phrases, negative polar heel phrases obligatorily scramble across adverbial phrases like nog nooit; see Section 8.1.3 for a discussion of the restrictions on scrambling.

Example 208
a. Ik heb <mijn buurvrouw> nog nooit <mijn buurvrouw> gezien.
  I have my neighbor  yet never  seen
  'Iʼve never seen my neighbor so far.'
b. Ik had <het hele mens> nog nooit <*het hele mens> gezien.
  had  the whole person  yet not  seen
  'I didnʼt ever see the person/woman at all so far.'
[+]  B.  The licensing of negative polar heel

The fact that (206d) is grammatical raises a question concerning the licensing of negative polar heel. When we restrict ourselves to negative contexts, run-of-the-mill negative polarity items like ook maar iemand'anyone' are normally licensed by means of a syntactically expressed negation: this negation can be expressed on some other c-commanding argument in the sentence, as illustrated in (209a&a'), or by the negative adverb niet provided that it is part of some higher clause, as is illustrated by the contrast between (209b) and (209b').

Example 209
a. Niemand heeft ook maar iemand gezien.
  nobody  is  ook maar someone  seen
  'Nobody has seen anybody.'
a'. Niemand denkt dat Peter ook maar iemand gezien heeft.
  nobody  thinks  that  Peter  ook maar someone  seen  has
  'Nobody thinks that Peter has seen anybody.'
b. * Peter heeft <niet> ook maar iemand <niet> gezien.
  Peter has    not  ook maar someone  seen
b'. Ik denk niet dat Peter ook maar iemand gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  Peter ook maar someone  seen  has
  'I donʼt think that Peter has seen anybody.'

      When we compare the primeless examples of (209) to those in (210), we see that the pattern with negative polar heel is in fact the reverse: polar heel can be licensed by the negative adverb niet, but not by a c-commanding argument. Negative polar heel also behaves differently when it comes to licensing by negation in some higher clause: the counterparts of the primed examples in (209) with negative polar heel are unacceptable.

Example 210
a. *? Niemand heeft het hele mens gezien.
  nobody  has  the whole person  seen
a'. * Niemand denkt dat Peter het hele mens gezien heeft.
  nobody  thinks  that  Peter  the whole person  seen  has
b. Peter heeft het hele mens niet gezien.
  Peter has  the whole person  not  seen
b'. * Ik denk niet dat Peter het hele mens gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  Peter the whole person  seen  has

In the primed examples in (209) and (210) the polarity items function as objects, but we find the same contrast if the polarity items function as a subject. This is shown in (211) by means of examples in which negation is expressed by the negative adverb niet, but similar judgments are obtained if we use examples with the negative phrase niemand'nobody' as the subject of the matrix clause.

Example 211
a. Ik denk niet dat ook maar iemand Peter gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  ook maar someone  Peter seen  has
  'I donʼt think that anybody has seen Peter.'
b. * Ik denk niet dat het hele mens Peter gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  the whole person  Peter  seen  has
  'I donʼt think that the person/woman has seen Peter.'

Note, however, that it has been claimed that examples such as (211b) improve if the embedded clause contains another polarity item, as shown in (212); in other words, the negative polar phrase het hele mens is licensed by the negative polarity items ooit'ever' and ook maar iemand'anybody' in, respectively, (212a) and (212b), which are licensed in turn by the negation in the matrix clause. Note that the use of the percentage mark indicates that some speakers do not readily accept examples of this sort (which may simply be due to the complexity of the examples).

Example 212
a. % Ik denk niet dat het hele mens Peter ooit gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  the whole person  Peter  ever  seen  has
  'I donʼt think that the person/woman has ever seen Peter.'
b. % Ik denk niet dat het hele mens ook maar iemand gezien heeft.
  think  not  that  the whole person  ook maar someone  seen  has
  'I donʼt think that the person/woman has seen anybody.'

The contrast between example (212b) above and (213a) below shows that the phrase het hele mens must c-command the negative polarity item that licenses it. Example (213b) shows something similar for a negative polar heel phrase functioning as a direct object. In the latter case, this c-command restriction may of course follow from the D-linking requirement, which forces scrambling, but this requirement has nothing to say about the contrast between (212b) and (213a); cf. Section, sub III. We refer the reader to Den Dikken (2002) and Hoeksema (2007) for a more detailed discussion and alternative approaches to this c-command restriction.

Example 213
a. * Ik denk niet dat ook maar iemand het hele mens gezien heeft.
  think not  that  ook maar someone  the whole person  seen  has
  'I donʼt think that anybody has seen the person/woman.'
b. Ik denk niet dat ik <%het hele mens> ooit <*het hele mens> gezien heb.
  think not  that   the whole person  ever  seen  has

      A final difference between the licensing restrictions on ordinary negative polarity items and negative polar heel is that the latter can be licensed by implicitly negative verbs like vergeten'to forget/to not know anymore', whereas the former cannot (although there are more negative polarity items that resemble heel in this respect; cf. Klooster 1993).

Example 214
a. * Ik was ook maar iemand vergeten.
  I was  ook maar someone  forgotten
b. Ik was die hele Bert Mulder allang weer vergeten.
  was  that whole Bert Mulder  already.long  again  forgotten
  'Iʼd long forgotten about this Bert Mulder.'

Note that the relevance of implicit negation for licensing can also be seen by comparing the examples in (215): while the verb passeren'to pass' plausibly features implicit negation in its lexical semantics (“to not be behind anymore”), this is certainly not the case with the verbs in (215b).

Example 215
a. Ik was die hele Bert Mulder allang gepasseerd/voorbijgereden.
  was that whole Bert Mulder  already.long  passed/driven.past
  'Iʼd long passed this Bert Mulder.'
b. * Ik had die hele Bert Mulder allang gezien/ontmoet/begroet.
  had that whole Bert Mulder  already.long  seen/met/greeted

      Now that we have discussed the differences between run-of-the-mill negative polarity items like ook maar iemand'anybody' and negative polar heel phrases, we can discuss the syntactic functions the latter can perform. In (206a&b), negative polar heel phrases are used, respectively, as a direct and an indirect object, and in (206c) one is used as the complement of a preposition. Under certain conditions, negative polar heel phrases may also occur as a subject. We illustrate this in (216) by means of a proper noun, which cannot be combined with heel on any of its other uses.

Example 216
(?) Die hele Bert Mulder was door iedereen allang weer vergeten.
  that whole Bert Mulder  was  by everyone  already.long  again  forgotten

Example (216) is the passive counterpart of (206d/209), so we may conclude that a DO-subject behaves more or lesss on a par with the direct object (the passive construction is perhaps slightly marked, but certainly acceptable). This leads us to expect that the subjects of unaccusative verbs can also appear as a negative polar heel phrase. This expectation is indeed borne out, as is shown in (217) for the unaccusative verb vertrekken'to leave' and the nom-dat verb bekoren'to please'.

Example 217
a. (?) Gisteren was die hele Bert Mulder nog niet eens vertrokken.
  yesterday  was  that whole Bert Mulder  yet  not  even  left
  'Yesterday, this whole Bert Mulder hadnʼt even left.'
b. (?) Dat hele Macbeth kan me echt niet bekoren.
  that whole  Macbeth  can  me  really  not  please
  'This Macbeth cannot please me.'

However, if we are dealing with an underlying subject, as in (218), the result is clearly ungrammatical (the only exception being cases such as given in (212), in which negative polar heel is licensed by another negative polarity item).

Example 218
* Die hele Bert Mulder was zijn wachtwoord vergeten.
  that whole Bert Mulder  was  his password  forgotten

From the assumption that heel is a negative polarity item, the ungrammaticality of (218) follows straightforwardly: negative polarity items never occur as underlying subjects of main clauses. However, the acceptability of (216) and (217) shows again that the licensing conditions on negative polar heel phrases are different from those on negative polarity items like ook maar iemand'anyone'; in main clauses. the latter can never be used as the subject of passive constructions or of unaccusative verbs.

[+]  C.  The determiner preceding negative polar heel

An important interpretative property of the negative polar heel construction is that of condescension; Bert Mulder, for example, is clearly not held in great esteem by the speaker of (206d). Consistent with this is the fact that these constructions are typically used in combination with the distal demonstratives die/dat, which can themselves be used to express a negative evaluation on the part of the speaker; cf. Section, sub IID. More examples are given in (219a). The proximate demonstratives deze/dit, on the other hand, typically give rise to an awkward result in this context, and are altogether ruled out if the head noun is a proper noun, as is shown in (219b). Note, however, that (219c) shows that the negative polar heel construction is possible with the definite article, provided that the head noun is inherently evaluative.

Example 219
a. Ik ken dat hele mens/wijf/vrouwtje/meisje/Marietje niet.
  know  that  whole  woman/bitch/little.lady/girl/Marietje  not
b. Ik ken dit hele ?mens/?wijf/??vrouwtje/??meisje/*Marietje niet.
  know  this  whole   woman/bitch/little.lady/girl/Marietje  not
c. Ik ken het hele mens/wijf/?vrouwtje/??meisje/*Marietje niet.
  know  the whole  woman/bitch/little.lady/girl/Marietje  not

      The examples in (220) show that use of the indefinite article een'a' also leads to ungrammaticality. The unacceptability of these examples need not be related to the presence of negative polar heel, however, given that the direct object has been scrambled to the left of negation and we know independently that scrambling of nonspecific, indefinite noun phrases is impossible, as will also be clear from the fact that the examples in (220) are equally unacceptable without heel; cf. Section 8.1.3.

Example 220
a. * Ik had een (heel) mens niet gezien.
  had  whole person  not  seen
b. * Ik ken een (hele) vent niet.
  know  whole guy  not

To control for the scrambling effect with preservation of the licensing environment for the negative polar heel, the direct object would have to follow niet. However, as is discussed in Section 5.1.5, linear sequences of sentential niet and the indefinite article een are typically avoided, the determiner geen'no' being used instead, as in in (221). These examples, to the extent that they are acceptable in any context at all, certainly lack the specialized semantics of heel that we saw in the examples in (206).

Example 221
a. * Ik had geen heel mens gezien.
  had  no whole person  seen
b. * Ik ken geen hele vent.
  know  no whole guy

We may conclude from this that negative polar heel cannot be used in indefinite noun phrases headed by the articles een and geen, but it is still not clear whether this is due to a co-occurrence restriction between these determiners and negative polar heel, or to some other reason: we have already seen that the unacceptability of the examples in (220) is probably due to the ban on scrambling of nonspecific, indefinite noun phrases, and the unacceptability of the examples in (221) may be due to the restriction, discussed in Subsection B, that negative polar heel phrases c-command their licenser. That we are dealing with a co-occurrence restriction is, however, suggested by the fact that negative polar heel is also blocked in indefinite phrases with the determiner zoʼn'such a': the examples in (222) show that such phrases may be scrambled, whereas negative polar heel is excluded in both the base and the derived position of such phrases.

Example 222
a. Ik had <zoʼn mens> nog nooit eerder <zoʼn mens> gezien.
  had  such a person  yet never before  seen
  'Iʼve never seen such a person before.'
a'. * Ik had <zoʼn heel mens> nog nooit <zoʼn heel mens> gezien.
b. dat ik <zoʼn vent> nog nooit eerder <zoʼn hele vent> ontmoet heb.
  that I    such a guy  yet never before  met  have
  'that Iʼve never met such a guy before.'
b'. * dat ik <zoʼn hele vent> nog nooit <zoʼn hele vent> ontmoet heb.

      The primeless examples in (223), finally. show that combining the negative polarity use of heel with prenominal possessors gives rise to a marked result; grammatical possessive examples can be obtained by placing the possessor in postnominal position, as in the primed examples.

Example 223
a. ?? Ik had zijn hele auto niet gezien.
  had  his whole car  not  seen
a'. Ik had die hele auto van ’m niet gezien.
  had  that whole car of him  not  seen
b. ?? Ik ken zijn hele vader niet.
  know  his whole father  not
b'. Ik ken die hele vader van ’ m niet.
  know  that whole father of him  not
[+]  D.  Comparing negative polar and quantificational heel

This subsection investigates whether the notion of totality, that is, the core meaning of post-determiner heel, is also relevant for the use of heel as a negative polar element; cf. the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, lemma heel, for an earlier discussion of this possibility. If so, examples of the type in (206) can be taken to express that the speakerʼs unfamiliarity with, indifference towards, or negative judgment about the entity denoted by the heel phrase extends to the entire entity, nothing being exempted. What may plead for such an approach is that negative polar heel cannot be combined with quantificational (pre- or post-determiner) heel. Consider the examples in (224), which are ambiguous between a quantificational and a negative polar interpretation of heel: on the latter reading niet is required, whereas on the former reading it is omissible (structurally speaking).

Example 224
a. Ik ken heel die geschiedenis niet.
  know  all that history  not
b. Ik ken die hele geschiedenis niet.
  know  that whole history  not

When we now turn to the examples in (225) we see that the forms of heel found in (224) cannot be combined with negative polarity item heel into a single noun phrase. For the negative polarity readings of heel in (224) this is of course straightforward, but on a quantificational interpretation of pre-determiner heel in (225a) and one of the two tokens of heel in (225b) it is not immediately obvious why these examples should be ill-formed. However, if we also treat negative polarity heel as a quantificational element, this may provide an explanation for the deviance of (225) given that double quantification is normally excluded.

Example 225
a. * Ik ken heel die hele geschiedenis niet.
  know  all that whole history  not
b. * Ik ken die hele hele geschiedenis niet.
  know  that whole whole history  not

      There is a reason, however, that the semantics of totality associated with negative polar heel should be attributed to the verb phrase containing the heel phrase, and not to the noun phrase. Heel, though syntactically construed with the noun phrase containing it, seems semantically construed with the verb phrase, and teams up with the negation to express the notion of totality. This is clear from the fact that the function of heel in (226a) is more or lesss equivalent to that of the adverb helemaal in (226b). In other words, negative polar heel may scope out of its noun phrase in a way similar to the determiner geen; cf. Section, sub IA.

Example 226
a. Ik ken die hele vent niet.
  know  that whole guy  not
b. Ik ken die vent helemaal niet.
  know  that guy  at all  not

The particular form of helemaal used in (226b) is the one that bears no accent. There is an alternative form helemáál, with accent on the second syllable, which means “absolutely” (and alternates with volstrekt, absoluut'absolutely'), and it is interesting to note that it is only this form that can co-occur with negative polar heel; the unstressed form helemaal is incompatible with heel in its intended sense.

Example 227
Ik ken die hele vent helemáál/*helemaal niet.
  know  that whole guy  absolutely/at all  not

The complementary distribution of negative polar heel and unstressed helemaal confirms their parallel functions, and supports our earlier conclusion that heel found in examples like (226a) and (227) is interpreted as a modifier of the VP in the sense that it has scope over the VP rather than over the noun phrase including it. It is therefore not evident whether the notion of totality is related to negative polar heel itself or is of a more compositional nature.

  • Dikken, Marcel den2002Direct and parasitic polarity item licensingJournal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics535-66
  • Hoeksema, Jack2007Parasitic licensing of negative polarity itemsJournal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics10163-182
  • Klooster, Wim1993Negatieve zinnenGramma/TTT2119-143
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