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2.1.3. Ditransitive and dyadic unaccusative (nom-dat) verbs
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Sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 discussed verbs with at most one internal nominal argument: (i) impersonal and intransitive verbs without an internal argument, and (ii) monadic unaccusative and transitive verbs with an internal theme argument. These verbs can be further divided into unergative and unaccusative verbs, that is, verbs with and verbs without an external argument. This section continues by discussing verbs with two internal nominal arguments, and we will show that such verbs must likewise be divided into two groups: unergative verbs like aanbieden'to offer' in (80a) are normally called ditransitive or double object verbs because their internal arguments both surface as objects; unaccusative verbs like bevallen'to please' in (80b) are called nom-dat verbs because their internal theme argument surfaces as (nominative) subject, whereas their second internal argument is realized as a dative phrase; see Subsection I for a more detailed discussion.

Example 80
a. Jan biedt Marie het boek aan.
ditransitive verb
  Jan offers  Marie  the book  prt.
  'Jan is offering Marie the book.'
b. dat jouw verhalen mijn broer niet bevielen.
nom-dat verbs
  that  your stories  my brother  not  pleased
  'that your stories didnʼt please my brother.'

If subjects of nom-dat verbs are indeed internal arguments, we end up with the classification of verbs given in Table 4, which seems to be the one normally assumed in current versions of generative grammar.

Table 4: Classification of verbs according to the nominal arguments they take (prefinal)
  name external argument internal argument(s)
no internal
argument
intransitive nominative (subject)
  impersonal
one internal
argument
transitive nominative (subject) accusative (direct object)
  unaccusative nominative (DO-subject)
two internal
arguments
ditransitive nominative (subject) dative (indirect object)
accusative (direct object)
  nom-dat dative (indirect object)
nominative (DO-subject)

Table 4 shows that transitive verbs can be confused with nom-dat verbs given that they both take a subject and an object. In languages like German, the two verb types can readily be distinguished by means of case-assignment: transitive verbs assign accusative case to their object, whereas nom-dat verbs assign dative case. Since Dutch does not distinguish these two cases morphologically, Subsection II will introduce a number of other tests that can help to distinguish the two verb types. But Subsection I will first provide a brief general introduction to the ditransitive and nom-dat verbs.

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[+]  I.  General introduction

This subsection briefly introduces two verb classes that take two internal arguments: ditransitive and nom-dat verbs. The latter verb class is unaccusative and the standard unaccusativity tests therefore predict that they will take the auxiliary zijn'to be' in the perfect tense. We will see, however, that there are in fact two types of nom-dat verbs: one type that takes the auxiliary zijn and another type that takes the auxiliary hebben'to have'. This supports our finding in Section 2.1.2, sub III, that selection of the auxiliary zijn is a sufficient but not a necessary condition for assuming unaccusativity.

[+]  A.  Ditransitive (double object) verbs

Ditransitive verbs take an external argument, which is realized as the subject of the clause, and two internal arguments, which are realized as, respectively, an indirect object (the goal/source argument) and a direct object (the theme argument). Examples of such ditransitive verbs are aanbieden'to offer' and afpakken'to take away' in (81).

Example 81
a. Jan biedt MarieIO het boekDO aan.
  Jan offers  Marie  the book  prt.
  'Jan is offering Marie the book.'
b. Marie pakt JanIO het boekDO af.
  Marie takes  Jan  the book  away
  'Marie takes away the book from Jan.'

Example (82) provides a small sample of such double object verbs.

Example 82
Ditransitive verbs: aanbieden'to offer', aanbevelen'to recommend', afpakken'to take away', beloven'to promise', bevelen'to order', geven'to give', nalaten'to bequeath', onthouden'to withhold', ontnemen'to take away', opbiechten'to confess', schenken'to give', sturen'to send', toesturen'to send', toeroepen'to call', toezeggen'to promise', verbieden'to forbid', verkopen'to sell', vragen'to ask', verhuren'to rent', zenden'to send', etc.

Although Dutch has no morphologically realized cases on non-pronominal noun phrases, it is generally assumed on the basis of comparable constructions in German that the two objects are assigned different cases: the indirect object is assigned dative, whereas the direct object is assigned accusative case. In many cases, the indirect object need not be overtly realized, but if it is not present, it is normally semantically implied: if we drop the dative noun phrase in the examples in (83), for instance, the goal of the event is assumed to be some salient entity in the domain of discourse.

Example 83
a. Jan biedt (Marie/haardat) het boekacc aan.
  Jan offers   Marie/her  the book  prt.
  'Jan offers (Marie/her) the book.'
b. Marie beloofde (Jan/hemdat) een mooi cadeauacc.
  Marie promised   Jan/him  a beautiful present
  'Marie promised (Jan) a beautiful present.'
[+]  B.  Nom-dat verbs

Monadic unaccusative verbs are characterized by having an internal theme argument that surfaces as the DO-subject of the clause. We would therefore also expect there to be a class of unaccusative verbs with two internal arguments, one of which surfaces as a derived subject. Den Besten (1985) has argued that such dyadic unaccusative verbs do indeed exist, and are instantiated by the so-called nom-dat verbs. The name of these verbs is due to the fact that they take a theme argument, which is assigned nominative case, as well as an experiencer argument, which is assigned dative case. This is not directly observable in Dutch, because, as noted in the previous subsection, the difference between dative and accusative case is not morphologically expressed in this language, but it is in German examples such as (84a); (84b) provides the Dutch translation of this example.

Example 84
a. dass deine Geschichtennom meinem Bruderdat nicht gefielen.
German
  that  your stories  my brother  not  liked
b. dat jouw verhalen mijn broer niet bevielen.
Dutch
  that  your stories  my brother  not  liked
  'that my brother didnʼt like your stories.'

The experiencer argument (indirect object) is normally obligatorily expressed or at least semantically implied. In the latter case, the implicit experiencer is often construed as referring to the speaker, but it can also be interpreted generically.

Example 85
a. Deze tekstverwerker bevalt in het algemeen goed.
  this word processor  pleases  in general  well
  'Generally speaking, Iʼm/people are pleased with this word processor.'
b. Het lezen van dit boek valt mee.
  the reading of this book  falls  prt.
  'Reading this book is less difficult than I expected/one may expect.'

Subsection II will show that subjects of nom-dat verbs differ from subjects of transitive verbs in that they are internal arguments; they behave in various respects like the DO-subjects of monadic unaccusative verbs discussed in Section 2.1.2, and also exhibit behavior similar to that of the derived subjects of the passivized ditransitive verbs in (86).

Example 86
a. Het boeknom wordt Marie (door Jan) aangeboden.
  the book  is  Marie   by Jan  prt.-offered
  'The book is offered to Marie (by Jan).'
b. Het boeknom wordt Jan (door Marie) af gepakt.
  the book  is  Jan   by Marie  away  taken
  'The book is taken away from Jan (by Marie).'
[+]  C.  Two types of nom-dat verbs

Section 2.1.2, sub III, suggested that there are two classes of monadic unaccusative verbs, one taking the auxiliary zijn and another taking the auxiliary hebben in the perfect tense, and Subsection IIC, will support this claim by showing that the same thing holds for nom-dat, that is, dyadic unaccusative verbs. Two examples are given in (87) in which the order nominative-dative clearly indicates that we are dealing with nom-dat verbs.

Example 87
a. dat Peter/hem die fout niet is opgevallen.
  that  Peter/him  that error  not  is  stand.out
  'that Peter/he didnʼt notice that error.'
b. dat Peter/hem die maaltijd goed smaakte.
  that  Peter/him  that meal  good  tasted
  'that the meal tasted good to Peter/him.'

Example (88) provides small samples of both types of verbs, which are taken from a more general list from Den Besten (1985:fn.7). Since Dutch does not express case by morphological means, it cannot immediately be established that the verbs in (88) are indeed nom-dat verbs, but this is possible for the German counterparts of these verbs; see Drosdowski (1995) for an extensive list and Lenerz (1977) for a more extensive discussion of the behavior of such German verbs.

Example 88
a. Nom-dat verbs selecting zijn'to be': (e.g., gemakkelijk) afgaan'to come easy to', (e.g., goed) bekomen'to agree with', bevallen'to please', lukken'to succeed', invallen'to occur to', meevallen'to turn out better/less difficult than expected', ontgaan'to escape', ontschieten'to slip oneʼs mind', ontvallen'to elude', opvallen'to stand out/catch the eye', overkomen'to happen to', tegenlopen'to go wrong', tegenvallen'to disappoint', ( goed) uitkomen'to suit well', verschijnen'to appear', etc.
b. Nom-dat verbs selecting hebben'to have': aanspreken'to appeal', aanstaan'to please', behagen'to please', berouwen'to regret', betamen'to befit', bevreemden'to surprise', bijstaan'to dimly recollect', duizelen'to make someoneʼs head swim', heugen'to remember', (e.g., goed) liggen'to appeal to', ontbreken'to fail to', passen'to fit', schaden'to do damage to', schikken'to suit', smaken'to taste', spijten'to regret', tegenstaan'to pall on', tegenzitten'be out of luck', voldoen'to satisfy', ( niet) zinnen'to please', etc.

Native speakers sometimes have varying judgments on auxiliary selection; for some speakers, the verb bevallen'to please' is (also) compatible with the auxiliary hebben, as is clear from the fact that such cases can readily be found on the internet. To our knowledge, it has not been investigated whether this shift in auxiliary selection affects the other properties of the verb that will be discussed in Subsection II.

Example 89
Dat boek is/%heeft Marie/haar goed bevallen.
  that book  is/has  Marie/her  well  pleased
'Mary liked that book a lot.'

Further note that it is sometimes difficult to give satisfactory English renderings of the verbs in (88), due to the fact that English normally expresses the same meaning by using completely different syntactic frames; in English, the experiencer is often realized as the subject and not as the object of the clause (which perhaps need not surprise us, given that in English passivization of ditransitive constructions normally requires the goal, and not the theme, argument to be promoted to subject).

[+]  D.  Some miscellaneous remarks on nom-dat verbs

In German objects of nom-dat verbs are assigned dative case, just like indirect objects of double object constructions. This may give rise to the expectation that these objects exhibit similar syntactic behavior. There is, however, at least one conspicuous difference between them; the examples in (90) show that whereas dative objects of ditransitive verbs often alternate with prepositional phrases, objects of nom-dat verbs do not have this option. This fact might be related to a difference in thematic roles carried by the respective dative objects; prototypical cases of dative/PP alternation involve recipient/goal arguments, not experiencers. The alternation in the (a)-examples will be discussed in detail in Section 3.3.1.

Example 90
a. Jan heeft Marie/haar het boek aangeboden.
  Jan has  Marie/her  the book  prt.-offered
  'Jan offered Marie/her the book.'
a'. Jan heeft het boek aan Marie/haar aangeboden.
  Jan has  the book  to Marie/her  prt.-offered
b. Dat boek is Marie/haar goed bevallen.
  that book  is Marie/her  well  pleased
  'Mary liked that book a lot.'
b'. * Dat boek is aan Marie/haar goed bevallen.
  that book  is to Marie/her  well  pleased

      Some nom-dat verbs seem to be undergoing a reanalysis process in the direction of regular transitive verbs. This is clearly the case with the verb passen'to fit' in (91); besides (91a), in which the experiencer is realized as a dative object, the construction in (91b) is judged acceptable by many speakers. Perhaps this reanalysis goes hand in hand with a change of meaning; although example (91b) can be used in the same sense as (91a), with the subject functioning as an experiencer, it can also be used to express that someone is trying on the shoes, in which case the subject is construed as an agent (an alternative option is that the latter reading is related to the particle verb aanpassen'to fit on', which cannot be used as a nom-dat verb).

Example 91
a. Die schoenen passen mij.
  those shoes  fit  me
  'Those shoes fit me.'
b. Ik pas die schoenen.
  fit  those shoes
  'Those shoes fit me.' or 'Iʼm trying on those shoes.'

      Closer inspection of the individual nom-datverbs in (88) reveals that many of these verbs are either morphologically complex in the sense that they are prefixed by the morpheme be-or ont-, or obligatorily accompanied by a verbal particle. Although this has been noted before, it has not been thoroughly investigated whether this is theoretically significant. In this connection, it has been suggested that prefixes like be-and ont-and particles can both be considered secondary predicates; cf. Section 2.2.3, sub IIIB, for discussion.

[+]  II.  Properties of ditransitive and nom-dat verbs

Transitive and nom-dat verbs both take a subject and an object. Given that Dutch does not make a morphological distinction between accusative and dative case, the two classes cannot be immediately recognized on the basis of their form. The following subsections will therefore investigate a number of properties of ditransitive and nom-dat verbs; we will show that the subjects of the latter behave in various respects like the theme arguments of the former. This means that nom-dat verbs and transitive verbs differ in ways similar to the intransitive and unaccusative verbs discussed in Section 2.1.2.

[+]  A.  Thematic role of the subject

Section 2.1.2, sub IIIA, has shown that intransitive and transitive verbs generally denote actions. The subject of the clause normally functions as an agent and therefore typically refers to a +animate entity. Examples (92a&b) show that the same thing holds for ditransitive verbs; the subject of the double object construction is normally an agent performing the action denoted by the verb, and for this reason it is typically a +animate participant or an institution (which is then seen as a collection of individuals). Although there are some exceptional cases such as (92c), the overall pattern seems consistent with the idea that the subjects of double object constructions are external arguments.

Example 92
Ditransitive verbs
a. Jan/*De gelegenheid bood Marie het boek aan.
  Jan/the occasion  offered  Marie  the book  prt.
  'Jan/The occasion offered Marie/her a book.'
b. Marie/*De gelegenheid beloofde Jan een mooi cadeau.
  Marie/the  occasion  promised  Jan a beautiful present
  'Marie/the occasion promised Jan a beautiful present.'
c. Jan/Deze gelegenheid bood haar een kans om zich te bewijzen.
  Jan/this occasion  offered  her  a chance  comp  refl  to prove
  'This occasion offered her an opportunity to prove herself.'

Nom-dat verbs, on the other hand, denote processes or states. The subject of such verbs functions as a theme, that is, the participant that undergoes the process or is in the state denoted by the verb. That the subject is not an agent also accounts for the fact that the subject of a nom-dat verb often refers to a -animate participant in the state of affairs. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the subject of a nom-dat verb is an internal argument, just like the subject of the unaccusative verbs discussed in 2.1.2. Two examples are given in (93).

Example 93
nom-dat verbs
a. Deze vakantie beviel de jongen/hem goed.
  these holidays  pleased  the boy/him  well
  'These holidays pleased the boy well.'
b. Deze laffe daad stond Els/haar erg tegen.
  this cowardly deed  palled  Els/her  much  on
  'This cowardly deed disgusted Els/her very much.'

External arguments are normally noun phrases; see the introduction to Chapter 2. The fact that the subject of a nom-dat verb may be a clause also suggests that it is an internal argument. Note in passing that the subject clause may appear either in sentence-initial or sentence-final position; if it is in final position the regular subject position is occupied by the anticipatory pronoun het'it'.

Example 94
a. [Dat de vakantie zo lang duurt], bevalt de jongen prima.
  that the vacation so long lasts  pleases  the boy  much
  'that the vacation lasts so long pleases the boy.'
a'. Het bevalt de jongen prima [dat de vakantie zo lang duurt].
b. [Dat hij zoʼn laffe daad gepleegd heeft], stond Els erg tegen.
  that  he  such.a cowardly deed  committed has  pall  Els much  on
  'that he commited such a cowardly disgusted Els/her.'
b'. Het staat Els tegen [dat hij zoʼn laffe daad gepleegd heeft].
[+]  B.  ER-nominalization

Section 2.1.2, sub IIIB, has shown that agentive er-nouns refer to entities that are performing the action denoted by the input verb. Since ditransitive verbs have an external argument, we correctly predict that they can be the input of er-nominalization. Some examples are given in (95).

Example 95
a. een gever/schenker van dure cadeaus
  giv-er  of expensive presents
b. een verkoper van tweedehands autoʼs
  sell-er  of second.hand cars
c. de zender van het bericht
  the  send-er  of the message

For unclear reasons, however, er-nominalization gives rise to a marginal or even impossible result in several other cases. Some examples are given in (96).

Example 96
a. ? een aanbieder van boeken
  offer-er  of books
b. * een belover van dure cadeaus
  promis-er  of expensive presents
c. * een ontnemer van eer
  take-away-er  of honor

      Since the nom-dat verbs do not have an external argument it is predicted that they cannot be the input for the formation of agentive er-nouns. As is shown in (97), this seems indeed to be borne out. The examples in (97a) and (97b) correspond to some of the nom-dat verbs in (88a) and (88b), respectively.

Example 97
a. * een bevaller, *een lukker, *een ontganer, *een ontschieter, *een ontvaller, *een opvaller, *een overkomer
b. * een aanstaner, *een behager, *een berouwer, *een bevreemder, *een smaker

Note that, as in the case of the monadic unaccusative verbs, there seem to be a number of lexicalized exceptions. That these forms are not the result of a productive process is clear from the fact that, e.g., the derived form in (98b) cannot be used to refer to the referent of the subject in an example such as Dat boek/Jan viel me tegen'that book/Jan disappointed me'.

Example 98
a. meevaller
  better.than.expect-er
  'stroke of luck/unexpected budget credit'
b. tegenvaller
  disappoint-er
  'disappointment/unexpected budget deficit'
[+]  C.  Auxiliary selection

Section 2.1.2, sub IIIC, has argued that all an external argument take the auxiliary hebben in the perfect tense. The examples in (99) show that ditransitive verbs also select this auxiliary.

Example 99
Ditransitive verbs
a. Jan heeft/*is Marie het boek aangeboden.
  Jan has/is  Marie the book  prt.-offered
  'Jan has offered Marie the book.'
b. Marie heeft/*is Jan een mooi cadeau beloofd.
  Marie has/is  Jan a beautiful present  promised
  'Marie has promised Jan a beautiful present.'

Section 2.1.2, sub III, on the other hand, has argued that, depending on their aspectual properties, monadic unaccusative verbs can take either hebben or zijn in the perfect tense. The same thing holds for dyadic unaccusative verbs. In (100), examples are given of nom-dat verbs taking the auxiliary zijn. In (101), we give some examples of nom-dat verbs taking the auxiliary hebben.

Example 100
nom-dat verbs selecting zijn
a. De ergste rampen zijn/*hebben het meisje/haardat overkomen.
  the worst disasters  are/have  the girl/her  happened
  'The worst disasters have happened to the girl/her.'
b. Dit boek is/*heeft de jongen/hemdat goed bevallen.
  this book  is/has  the boy/him  well  pleased
  'The boy/he was very pleased by this book.'
Example 101
nom-dat verbs selecting hebben
a. Deze laffe daad heeft/*is het meisje/haardat erg tegengestaan.
  this cowardly deed  has/is  the girl/her  much  on-pall
  'This cowardly deed disgusted the girl/her.'
b. De soep heeft/*is de gast/hemdat goed gesmaakt.
  the soup has/is  the guest/him  good  tasted
  'The guest/He enjoyed the soup.'

The fact that the verbs in (100) take the auxiliary zijn is sufficient to conclude that they are unaccusative and, consequently, that the subject is a DO-subject. The fact that the verbs in (101) do not take zijn but hebben is due to the fact that they are atelic; they denote a state of affairs without an implied endpoint.

[+]  D.  Attributive use of the past/passive participle

Section 2.1.2, sub IIID, has shown that past/passive participles of transitive verbs can be used attributively to modify nouns corresponding to the direct object of the corresponding active verbs. As is shown in (102a&b), the same thing holds for the past/passive participles of ditransitive verbs. The indirect object normally remains implicit in these cases, but it can also be overtly expressed if it is a pronoun; if it is a non-pronominal noun phrase, the result seems somewhat marked.

Example 102
Attributive use of past/passive participle of ditransitive verb
a. het (haar/?Marie) aangeboden boekTheme
  the her/Marie  prt.-offered  book
  'the book offered (to her/Marie)'
b. het (hem/?Jan) beloofde cadeauTheme
  the  him/Jan  promised  present
  'the present promised (to him/Jan)'

The examples in (103) show that, as in the case of transitive verbs, past/passive participles of ditransitive verbs cannot be used to modify a noun corresponding to the subject of the corresponding active verb.

Example 103
a. * de haar/Mariedat het boekacc aangeboden jongenAgent
  the her/Marie  the book  prt.-offered  boy
  Intended reading: 'the boy who promised the book to Mary/her'
b. * de de jongens/hendat het cadeauacc beloofde meisjeAgent
  the the boys/them  the present  promised  girl
  Intended reading: 'the girl who promised the present to the boys/them'

Using the past/passive participle to modify the indirect object is unacceptable for some speakers but at least marginally acceptable to others. Note that the theme argument must be overtly expressed in these cases; if it is dropped, the examples in (104) become totally unacceptable for all speakers.

Example 104
a. het *(?dit boek) aangeboden meisjegoal
  the      this book  prt.-offered  girl
  'the girl who was offered this book'
b. de *(?dit cadeau) beloofde jongengoal
  the      this present  promised  boy
  'the boy who was promised the present'

      Section 2.1.2, sub III, has shown that past/passive participles of monadic unaccusative verbs selecting zijn can be used attributively to modify a noun corresponding to the subject of the corresponding active verb, whereas the past/passive participle of a monadic unaccusative verbs selecting hebben cannot. The same correlation arises in the case of the dyadic unaccusative verbs; in (105) we give two examples with the past participles of nom-dat verbs selecting zijn, and in (106) two examples with nom-dat verbs selecting hebben.

Example 105
Attributive use of past/passive participle of nom-dat verbs selecting zijn
a. de haar/?het meisjedat overkomen rampenTheme
  the  her/the girl  happened  disasters
  'the disasters that happened to her/the girl'
b. de hem/?deze jongendat goed bevallen vakantieTheme
  the  him/this boy  well  pleased  holiday
  'the holiday that pleased this boy much'
Example 106
Attributive use of past/passive participle of nom-dat verbs selecting hebben
a. * de haar/het meisjedat tegengestane laffe daadTheme
  the  her/the girl  on-pall  cowardly deed
  Intended reading: 'the cowardly deed that disgusted her/the girl.'
b. * de hem/de gastdat gesmaakte soepTheme
  the  him/the guest  tasted  soup
  Intended reading: 'the soup he/the guest enjoyed'

The fact that the past participles in (105) are able to modify the nouns that correspond to the subjects of the corresponding active verbs is sufficient to conclude that the verb is unaccusative. The fact that the past participles in (106) are not able to modify the noun that corresponds to the subject of the corresponding active verb is due to the fact that these verbs are atelic; they denote a state of affairs without an implied endpoint.

[+]  E.  (Impersonal) passive

Section 2.1.2, sub IIIE, has shown that whereas intransitive and transitive verbs can be passivized, unaccusative verbs like arriveren'to arrive' cannot. From this we concluded that having an external argument is a necessary condition for passivization. From this, it correctly follows that ditransitive verbs can normally be passivized, as is illustrated in (107). Observe that the agent can be optionally expressed by means of an agentive door-phrase.

Example 107
Ditransitive verbs
a. Het boek werd Marie/haardat (door Jan) aangeboden.
  the book  was  Marie/her   by Jan  prt.-offered
  'The book was given to Marie/her (by Jan).'
b. Het cadeau werd Jan/hemdat (door Marie) beloofd.
  the present  was  Jan/him   by Marie  promised
  'The present was promised to Jan/him (by Marie).'

If the nom-dat verbs are indeed dyadic unaccusative verbs, we would expect that they cannot be passivized. The examples in (108) and (109) show that this expectation is indeed borne out; impersonal passivization is excluded.

Example 108
Impersonal passive of nom-dat verbs selecting zijn
a. Die jongen viel haar op.
  that boy  stand  her  out
  'That boy caught her eye.'
b. * Er werd haar opgevallen (door die jongen).
  there  was  her  out-caught   by that boy
Example 109
Impersonal passive of nom-dat verbs selecting hebben
a. Die jongen bevreemdde haar.
  that boy  surprised  her
  'that boy surprised/puzzled her.'
b. * Er werd haar bevreemd (door die jongen).
  there  was  her  surprised   by that boy

The examples in (110) show that the dative object of an active sentence cannot function as the subject of a passive sentence either. This provides additional evidence that nom-dat verbs cannot be considered regular transitive verbs.

Example 110
a. * Zijnom werd (door die jongen) opgevallen.
  she  was   by that boy  out-stood
b. * Zijnom wordt (door die jongen) bevreemd.
  she  was   by that boy  surprised

Observe that we took examples with human subjects, since it is often claimed that there is an animacy restriction on passivization; clauses that contain a -animate subject cannot be passivized.

[+]  F.  Argument order (nominative-dative inversion)

Although word order in the middle field is relatively free in Dutch, the relative order of the arguments of the verb is more or lesss fixed. As is shown in (111), the subject of a transitive verb normally must precede the direct object.

Example 111
Argument order with active transitive verbs
a. dat de meisjesnom de krantacc lezen.
  that  the girls  the newspaper  read
b. * dat de krant de meisjes lezen.

The same thing holds for the arguments of a ditransitive verb. Under neutral intonation, the subject must precede the indirect object, which in turn precedes the direct object. All other orders are excluded.

Example 112
Argument order with active ditransitive verbs
a. dat Jannom de meisjesdat de krantacc aanbood.
  that  Jan  the girls  the newspaper  prt.-offered
  'that Jan offered the girls the newspaper.'
b. * dat Jannom de krantacc de meisjesdat aanbood.
c. * dat de krantacc Jannom de meisjesdat aanbood.
d. * dat de krantacc de meisjesdat Jannom aanbood.
e. * dat de meisjesdat Jannom de krantacc aanbood.
f. * dat de meisjesdat de krantacc Jannom aanbood.

      The nom-dat verbs, however, differ in this respect from the (di-)transitive verbs. The examples in (113) and (114) show that two orders are possible; the subject can either precede or the dative object. This provides direct evidence for the claim that these verbs are not regular transitive verbs.

Example 113
Argument order with nom-dat verbs selecting zijn
a. dat het meisjedat de ergste rampennom overkomen zijn.
  that  the girl  the worst disasters  happened  are
  'that the worst disasters happened to the girl.'
a'. dat de ergste rampennom het meisjedat overkomen zijn.
b. dat de jongensdat de vakantienom niet erg bevallen is.
  that  the boys  the holidays  not much  pleased  is
  'that the boys arenʼt very pleased by the holidays.'
b'. dat de vakantienom de jongensdat niet erg bevallen is.
Example 114
Argument order with nom-dat verbs selecting hebben
a. dat het meisjedat deze laffe daadnom erg tegengestaan heeft.
  that  the girl  this cowardly deed  much  on.-pall  has
  'that this cowardly deed disgusted the girl.'
a'. dat deze laffe daadnom het meisjedat erg tegengestaan heeft.
b. dat de gastendat de soepnom uitstekend gesmaakt heeft.
  that  the guest  the soup  very well  tasted  has
  'that the soup pleased the guests very much.'
b'. dat de soepnom de gastendat uitstekend gesmaakt heeft.

Interestingly, the examples in (115) show that the same freedom of word order is also allowed in the case of passive constructions with ditransitive verbs. This provides evidence for the claim that the subject of a nom-dat verb is an internal argument comparable to the direct object of a ditransitive verb.

Example 115
Argument order in passive constructions with ditransitive verbs
a. dat de meisjesdat de krantnom aangeboden werd.
  that  the girls  the newspaper  prt.-offered  was
  'that the newspaper was offered to the girls.'
b. dat de krantnom de meisjesdat aangeboden werd.

      The data in (113) to (115) actually also provide evidence for the claim that the base position of the DO-subject of a nom-dat verb is the same as the direct object of a transitive verb. These positions follow the base position of the indirect object, that is, the primed examples of the nom-dat and passive constructions in (113) to (115) are derived by moving the derived subject into the regular subject position of the clause. In other words, the structure of the primeless examples in (113) to (115) is as schematically indicated in (116a), in which e represents the empty subject position, and those of the primed examples is as in (116b), in which the nominative noun phrase has been moved into this subject position.

Example 116
a. dat e ... NPdat NPnom ...
b. dat NPnom-i ... NPdatti ...

The difference between the structures in (116a) and (116b) seems to be related to the information structure of the clause. If the nominative argument occupies the position in (116a), it is interpreted as belonging to the focus (new information) of the clause. If it occupies the position in (116b) it belongs to the presupposition (old information) of the clause. This is clear from the fact that existentially quantified subject pronouns, which typically belong to the focus of the clause, must follow the dative noun phrase.

Example 117
a. dat de meisjes wat overkomen is.
nom-dat verb
  that  the girls  something  happened  is
  'that something has happened to the girls.'
a'. * dat wat de meisjes overkomen is.
b. dat de patiënt eindelijk weer wat smaakt.
nom-dat verb
  that  the patient  finally  again  something  tastes
  'that, finally, something tastes good to the patient again.'
b'. * dat wat de patiënt eindelijk weer smaakt.
c. dat de meisjes wat aangeboden werd.
passive ditransitive verb
  that  the girls  something  prt.-offered  was
  'that the girls were offered something.'
c'. * dat wat de meisjes aangeboden werd.

The same thing is shown by fact that definite subject pronouns, which typically belong to the presupposition of the clause, must be placed in the regular subject position. We refer the reader to Section N8.1.3 for more information about the relation between word order and information structure.

Example 118
a. * dat het meisje ze overkomen zijn.
nom-dat verb
a'. dat ze het meisje overkomen zijn.
  that  they the girl  happened  are
  'that they (e.g., the disasters) have happened to the girl.'
b. * dat de gast ze gesmaakt hebben.
nom-dat verb
b'. dat ze de gast gesmaakt hebben.
  that  they  the guest  tasted  have
  'that they (e.g., the apples) have pleased the guest.'
c. * dat het meisje ze aangeboden werden.
passive ditransitive verb
c'. dat ze het meisje aangeboden werden.
  that  they  the girl  prt.-offered  were
  'that they (e.g., the books) were offered to the girl.'
[+]  G.  Wat voor split

Although Section 2.1.2, sub IIIF, has shown that the wat voor split is not a very reliable test for distinguishing between external and internal arguments, we will show that, in the case of the nom-dat verbs, it can be used to show that the subject is a DO-subject. But let us first consider some data. Example (119) shows that the wat voor split seems to be possible with all arguments of ditransitive verbs, although some speakers may have some difficulty with extraction of wat from the subject and the indirect object. Just as in the case of intransitive and transitive verbs, a wat voor split of the subject is possible only if the expletive er is present; if it is dropped in (119a), the sentence becomes ungrammatical.

Example 119
Wat voor split from arguments of active ditransitive verbs
a. % Wat heeft er voor een jongen Marie die boeken aangeboden?
  what  has  there  for a boy  Marie those books  prt.-offered
  'What kind of boy offered those books to Marie?'
b. % Wat heeft hij voor een meisjes die boeken aangeboden?
  what  has  he  for a girls  those books  prt.-offered
  'To what kind of girls did he give those books?'
c. Wat heeft hij Marie voor een boeken aangeboden?
  what  has  he  Marie for a books  prt.-offered
  'What kind books did he offer to Marie?'

As is shown in (120a), a wat voor split is also possible from the derived subject in a passive construction headed by a ditransitive verb; the expletive er is optional, which is probably due to the fact that the indirect object Marie can be interpreted as belonging to the presupposition of the clause. See N8.1.4 for a discussion of the restrictions on the occurrence of expletive er. Example (120b) shows, however, that a wat voor split is only possible if the indirect object precedes the derived subject.

Example 120
Wat voor split from the DO-subject of passive ditransitive verbs
a. Wat worden (er) Marie voor een boeken aangeboden?
  what  are  there  Marie for a books  prt.-offered
  'What kind of books are offered to Marie?'
b. * Wat worden (er) voor een boeken Marie aangeboden?
  what  are  there  for a books  Marie prt.-offered

The ungrammaticality of (120b) can be made to follow from the assumption that the DO-subject has been moved from its base position following the indirect object into the regular subject position if we assume that this movement causes freezing; a moved phrase is assumed to be an island for wh-extraction, that is, one cannot move an element from a phrase that has moved itself. This provides support for the hypothesis that example (120b) has the structure in (116b).
      Since we have claimed that clauses with a nom-dat verb also have the structures in (116), we expect a similar contrast as in (120) to arise with these verbs: if the nominative noun phrase follows the dative noun phrase, a wat voor split is expected to be possible, whereas it is expected to be excluded if it precedes the dative noun phrase. The examples in (121) show that these expectations are borne out with nom-dat verbs selecting zijn.

Example 121
Wat voor split from the DO-subject of nom-dat verbs taking zijn
a. Wat zijn (er) het meisje voor een rampen overkomen?
  what  are  there  the girl  for a disasters  happened
  'What kind of disasters have happened to the girl?'
b. * Wat zijn (er) voor een rampen het meisje overkomen?
  what  are  there  for a disasters  the girl  happened

Nom-dat verbs taking hebben, on the other hand, do not meet this expectation; in (122), a wat voor split gives rise to a degraded result in both orders.

Example 122
Wat voor split from the DO-subject of nom-dat verbs taking hebben
a. ?? Wat hebben (er) de gasten voor een gerechten goed gesmaakt?
  what  have there  the guests  for a dishes  well  tasted
  'What kind of dishes pleased the guests?'
b. * Wat hebben (er) voor een gerechten de gasten goed gesmaakt?
  what  have  there  for a dishes  the guests  well  tasted

The above has shown that the wat voor split provides evidence for the derived status of the subject of nom-dat verbs taking zijn; since the split is only possible if the nominative noun phrase follows the dative noun phrase, the subject must be generated in the same position as the direct object of a transitive verb. The wat voor split is inconclusive in the case of nom-dat verbs selecting hebben, because it is impossible in both orders (for reasons that are still unclear).
      Let us conclude this subsection with a brief discussion of the wat voor split of dative noun phrases in passive ditransitive and nom-dat constructions. Consider the examples in (123). Example (123a) shows that a wat voor split from an indirect object seems possible, although native speakers' judgments differ on the precise status of these examples. In order to license the split, the subject must be indefinite; if it is definite, as in (123b), the acceptability of the construction degrades. The split is completely prohibited if the subject is moved into the regular subject position, as in (123c).

Example 123
Wat voor split from the indirect object of a passive ditransitive verb
a. % Wat worden er voor (een) meisje boeken aangeboden?
  what  are  there  for    a  girl  books  prt.-offered
  'To what kind of girls are books offered?'
b. ?? Wat worden voor (een) meisje de boeken aangeboden?
  what  are  for   a  girl  the books  prt.-offered
c. * Wat worden de boeken voor (een) meisje aangeboden?
  what  are  the books  for  girl  prt.-offered

The ungrammaticality of (123c) can be accounted for in the following way. In order to license the wat voor split, the indirect object must occupy its base position. It has been argued, however, that movement of a theme argument (a direct object or a DO-subject) across an indirect object in its base position is blocked. In order to move the theme argument, the indirect object must be scrambled to some more leftward position; cf. Haegeman (1991) and Den Dikken (1995). This is easy to show in the case of a ditransitive verb. The examples in (124b&c) show that the indirect and direct object can be scrambled to a position in front of the clausal adverb zeker'certainly'. However, whereas the indirect object can be scrambled on its own, as in (124b), scrambling of the direct object is possible only if the indirect object has scrambled as well, as is clear from the ungrammaticality of (124d). Note that the judgments only hold under neutral intonation—example (124c) improves if the adverbial phrases or indirect object receive contrastive focus).

Example 124
a. dat Jan dan zeker Marie het boek zal aanbieden.
  that  Jan then  certainly  Marie the book  will  prt.-offer
  'that Jan will certainly offer Marie the book then.'
b. dat Jan Marie dan zeker het boek zal aanbieden.
c. dat Jan Marie het boek dan zeker zal aanbieden.
d. * dat Jan het boek dan zeker Marie zal aanbieden.

The examples in (125) show that something similar holds in the passive construction; movement of the DO-subject into the regular subject position requires scrambling of the indirect object. Again this only holds under neutral intonation—example (125c) improves if the adverbial phrases or indirect object receive contrastive focus.

Example 125
a. dat dan zeker Marie het boek aangeboden zal worden.
  that  then  certainly  Marie the book  prt.-offered  will  be
  'that the book will certainly be offered to Marie then.'
b. dat het boek Marie dan zeker aangeboden zal worden.
c. *? dat het boek dan zeker Marie aangeboden zal worden.

The discussion of (124) and (125) strongly suggests that in (123c) the indirect object has been scrambled, and that the impossibility of the wat voor split is therefore due to a freezing effect. The intermediate status of (123b) may also be due to a freezing effect, since the definite noun phrase de boeken'the books' is more likely to scramble than the indefinite noun phrase boeken'books'.
      A pattern similar to that in (123) arises in the case of the nom-dat verbs. This again provides evidence for the claim that the base-position of the DO-subject is to the right of the indirect object and that its placement in the regular subject position is the result of movement, as depicted in example (116b) from Subsection F. It should be kept in mind, however, that this evidence is weak since many people also object to the wat voor split of the dative object in the (a)-examples.

Example 126
Wat voor split from the indirect object of nom-dat verbs taking zijn
a. % Wat zijn er voor (een) meisje ernstige rampen overkomen?
  what  are  there  for   a  girl  serious disasters  happen
  'To what kind of girl did serious disasters happen?'
b. ?? Wat zijn voor (een) meisje de ergste rampen overkomen?
  what  are  for   a  girl  the worst disasters  happened
c. * Wat zijn de ergste rampen voor (een) meisje overkomen?
  what  are  the worst disasters  for   a  girl  happened
Example 127
Wat voor split from the DO-subject of nom-dat verbs taking hebben
a. % Wat hebben er voor (een) gasten maar weinig schotels gesmaakt?
  what  have  there  for   a  guests  only few dishes  tasted
  'What kind of guests were pleased with only a few dishes?'
b. ?? Wat hebben voor (een) gasten de voorgerechten gesmaakt?
  what  have  for   a  guests  the starters  tasted
c. * Wat hebben de voorgerechten voor een gasten gesmaakt?
  what have  the starters  for a guests  tasted

[+]  H.  Summary

This previous subsections have discussed ditransitive and dyadic unaccusative (nom-dat) verbs. We have seen that the latter come in two types, just like the monadic unaccusative verbs: the first type selects the auxiliary zijn in the perfect tense, whereas the second type takes hebben. Ditransitive verbs are easy to distinguish from transitive and nom-dat verbs, because they take three nominal arguments instead of two. Transitive and nom-dat verbs are harder to distinguish because they select the same number of arguments. They differ, however, in that the former can undergo er-nominalization and can be passivized, whereas nom-dat verbs cannot. Furthermore, ditransitive verbs require the word order subject-object, whereas nom-dat verbs also allow the object-subject order under the right information-structural conditions. The properties of transitive and nom-dat verbs are summarized in Table 5. The first six columns should be read in the same way as in Table 3; Column 7 indicates whether it is possible for the (in)direct object to precede the subject (nominative argument).

Table 5: Properties of transitive and nom-dat verbs
  transitive verbs nom-dat verbs
1. auxiliary hebben zijn hebben
2. arguments external internal internal internal
    agent theme exp. theme exp. theme
3. er-nominalization +
4. attributive use of past/passive participle + +
5. (impersonal) passive +
6. wat voor split % + % + % ?
7. object-subject order + +

References:
  • Besten, Hans den1985The ergative hypothesis and free word order in Dutch and GermanToman, Jindřich (ed.)Studies in German GrammarDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications23-65
  • Besten, Hans den1985The ergative hypothesis and free word order in Dutch and GermanToman, Jindřich (ed.)Studies in German GrammarDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications23-65
  • Dikken, Marcel den1995Particles: on the syntax of verb-particle, triadic, and causative constructionsOxford studies in comparative syntaxNew York/OxfordOxford University Press
  • Drosdowski, Günther1995Duden Grammatik der deutschen GegenwartsspracheDer Duden in 12 Bänden Bd. 04MannheimDudenverlag
  • Haegeman, Liliane1991Scrambling, clitic placement and Agr recursion in West Flemish
  • Lenerz, Jürgen1977Zur Abfolge nominaler Satzglieder im DeutschenStudien zur deutschen GrammatikTübingenNarr
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