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3.3.2. Accusative/PP alternations
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This section discusses alternations between accusative objects and PPs with various functions, subsection I starts with a brief discussion of the alternation between accusative phrases and complement PPs of the type in (443), in which the form of the verb remains constant.

Example 443
a. Jan schopte zijn hond.
  Jan kicked  his dog.
a'. Jan schopte naar zijn hond.
  Jan kicked  at his dog
b. Jan bouwde een schip.
  Jan built  a ship
b'. Jan bouwde aan een schip.
  Jan built  at a ship
c. Jan at de cake.
  Jan ate  the cake
  'Jan ate the cake.'
c'. Jan at van de cake.
  Jan ate  from the cake
  'Jan ate of the cake.'

Standard Dutch accusative/PP alternations often go hand in hand with prefixation of the verb by be-, ver- and ont-, as is illustrated in (444).

Example 444
a. Jan kijkt naar Marie.
  Jan looks at Marie
  'Jan is looking at Marie.'
a'. Jan bekijkt Marie.
  Jan be-looks  Marie
  'Jan is looking at Marie.'
b. Peter zorgt voor de paarden.
  Peter looks  after the horses
  'Peter takes care of the horses.'
b'. Peter verzorgt de paarden.
  Peter ver-looks.after  the horses
  'Peter takes care of the horses.'
c. Jan vlucht uit zijn vaderland.
  Jan flees  from his native country
  'Jan is fleeing his native country.'
c'. Jan ontvlucht zijn vaderland.
  Jan ont-flees  his native country
  'Jan is fleeing his native country.'

Unfortunately, a systematic syntactic investigation of the alternations in (444) seems to be lacking so far, but there is one specific (and more complex) accusative/PP alternation that has been studied more intensively, the so-called locative alternation illustrated in (445), in which a locative PP alternates with a direct object. The discussion in Subsection II will therefore take this alternation as its point of departure; information on accusative/PP alternations of the types in (444) will be given as we go along.

Example 445
a. Jan laadde het hooi op de wagen.
  Jan loaded  the hay  on the wagon
b. Jan belaadde de wagen met hooi.
  Jan be-loaded  the wagon  with hay
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[+]  I.  Transitive-oblique alternation

Some transitive verbs alternate with intransitive PO-verbs. Typical examples are schieten (op)'to shoot (at)', schrijven (aan)'to write (at)' and drinken (van)'to drink (from)' in (446); the accusative objects of the transitive verbs correspond to the nominal parts of the PP-complements.

Example 446
a. Peter schiet een vogel.
  Peter shoots  a bird
a'. Peter schiet op een vogel.
  Peter shoots  at a bird
b. Marie schrijft een artikel.
  Marie writes  an article
  'Marie is writing an article.'
b'. Marie schrijft aan een artikel.
  Marie writes  at an article
  'Marie is writing at an article.'
c. Jan dronk een glas wijn.
  Jan drank  a glass [of] wine
c'. Jan dronk van een glas wijn.
  Jan drank  from a glass [of] wine

Alternations of the type in the (a)-examples in (446) exhibit a systematic meaning difference: while the transitive verb in the primeless example takes an affected object, the theme of the intransitive PO-verb in the primed examples is not necessarily affected by the activity denoted by the verb, as is clear from the fact that (447a), but not (447b), is semantically incoherent. For this reason the intransitive PO-verbs are sometimes referred to as conative; such verbs describe "an attempted action without specifying whether the action was actually carried out" (Levin 1993:42).

Example 447
a. $ Jan schoot een vogel maar miste.
  Jan shot  a bird  but  missed
b. Jan schoot op een vogel maar miste.
  Jan shot  at a bird  but  missed

      The transitive verb in example (446b) takes a so-called incremental theme, that is, a theme that comes into existence step-by-step as the result of the action denoted by the verb. Example (446b) is telic and thus implies that, after completion, Marie's activity will have resulted in the writing of an article, as is clear from the fact that the use of the perfect tense in (448a) implies the existence of an article written by Marie. This implication is entirely lacking in the perfect-tense counterpart of example (446b') given in (448b). This difference may perhaps also account for the fact that the direct but not the prepositional object may occur as the complement of an inherently telic predicate like voltooien'to complete' in the primed examples.

Example 448
a. Marie heeft gisteren het artikel geschreven.
  Marie has  yesterday  the article  written
  'Marie wrote the article yesterday.'
a'. Marie heeft gisteren het artikel voltooid.
  Marie has  yesterday  the article  completed
  'Marie completed the article yesterday.'
b. Marie heeft gisteren aan het artikel geschreven.
  Marie has  yesterday  at the article  written
  'Marie wrote at the article yesterday.'
b'. * Marie heeft gisteren aan het artikel voltooid.
  Marie has  yesterday  at an article  completed

The verb in example (446c) is similar to the verb in (446b) in that the theme changes over time, but now it does not come into existence, but it disappears step-by-step as result of the action denoted by the verb, for which reason we may speak of a decremental theme; the perfect-tense counterpart of (446c) in (449a) implies that Jan's glass is now empty. Such an implication is entirely lacking in the perfect-tense counterpart of example (446b') given in (449b).

Example 449
a. Jan heeft daarnet een glas wijn gedronken.
  Jan has  just.now  a glass [of] wine  drank
  'Jan drank a glass of wine just now.'
b. Jan heeft daarnet van een glas wijn gedronken.
  Jan has  just.now  from a glass [of] wine  drank
  'Jan drank from a glass of wine just now.'

The number of simple verbs taking a decremental theme is quite small, given that such verbs tend to take a verbal particle like op in (450); if we include such particle verbs the number greatly increases. Note in passing that the verbal particle cannot appear in the corresponding constructions with intransitive PO-verbs, which is probably due to the fact that verbal particles function as complementives, and thus need a nominal phrase as their logical subject; cf. Section 2.2.1.

Example 450
a. Jan snoepte de kaas *(op).
  Jan nibbled  the cheese     up
  'Jan nibbled the cheese up.'
b. Jan snoepte van de kaas (*op).
  Jan nibbled  the cheese     up
  'Jan nibbled/has been nibbling at the cheese.'

In cases such as (451), the transitive-oblique alternation involves prefixation. De Haas & Trommelen (1993:67-8) describe the meaning of the derived verbs as "directing the action denoted by the input verb to a certain object", subsection II will briefly return to this kind of alternation.

Example 451
a. Jan keek naar het schilderij.
  Jan looked  at the painting
  'Jan looked at the painting.'
a'. Jan bekeek het schilderij.
  Jan looked.at  the painting
  'Jan examined the painting.'
b. Petrarca zong over Laura.
  Petrarch  sung  about Laura
  'Petrarch sung about Laura.'
b'. Petrarca bezong Laura.
  Petrarch sung.about  Laura
  'Petrarch sung (his praise) of Laura.'
c. Jan reed op het paard.
  Jan rode  on the horse
c'. Jan bereed het paard.
  Jan rode.on  the horse

Example (452) provides a small sample of the verb types discussed in this section which are mainly taken from Van Hout (1996:52-3).

Example 452
Transitive-oblique alternations
a. Affected theme verbs: bijten (naar)'to bite (at)', duwen (tegen)'push (against)' schieten (op)'to shoot (at)', schoppen (naar)'to kick (at)', slaan (naar)'to hit (at)', trappen (naar)'to kick (at)', trekken (aan)'pull (on)'
b. Incremental theme verbs: bouwen (aan)'to build (on)', breien (aan)'to knit (on)', draaien (aan)'to turn', naaien (aan)'to sew (on)', schilderen (aan)'to paint (at)', schrijven (aan)'to write (on)'
c. Decremental theme verbs: eten (van)'to eat of', drinken (van)'to drink (from)', nemen (van)'to take (of)'
d. be-verbs: denken aan/ bedenken'to think of/up', luisteren naar/ beluisteren'to listen to/to listen carefully', liegen tegen/ beliegen'to lie to/to belie', rijden op/ berijden'to ride on', spotten met/ bespotten'to mock at/to mock', spreken over/bespreken'to talk about/to discuss', voelen aan/ bevoelen'to feel at/to palpate'
[+]  II.  Locative alternation (type I)

A well-known verb frame alternation in English is the so-called locative alternation shown in (453). The two alternants both contain a located and a reference (= location denoting) object, but the ways in which these are syntactically realized are different. Example (453a) is a resultative construction in which the reference object is expressed by means of the complementive PP on his face that is predicated of the located object mud, which, in turn, is realized as the accusative object of the clause. In example (453b), on the other hand, the reference object is realized as the accusative object, whereas the located object is realized by means of a with-PP; see Levin (1993) for more English data.

Example 453
a. John smeared mud on his face.
b. John smeared his face with mud.

The examples in (454) show that Dutch has a similar verb frame alternation. The Dutch alternation differs from its English counterpart, however, in that it goes hand in hand with a morphological change; the verb in (454b) seems to be derived from the verb in (454a) by means of prefixing by be-; cf. Hoekstra et al. (1987).

Example 454
a. Jan smeerde modder op zijn gezicht.
  Jan smeared  mud  on his face
b. Jan be-smeerde zijn gezicht met modder.
  Jan be-smeared  his face  with mud

The prefix be- is part of a small set of prefixes with a number of remarkable properties, subsection A starts with a discussion of these affixes in derived verbs denoting a change of location or a path. After that Subsection B shows that constructions containing such verbs are quite similar to resultative constructions, that is, constructions that contain a complementive.

[+]  A.  The prefixes be-, ver- and ont-

The prefix be- in example (454b) belongs to a small set of prefixes that are special in that they have the ability to change the category of the stem. Normally this property is restricted to suffixes, as is expressed by Williams' (1981) right-hand head rule, according to which the rightmost member in a morphologically complex word determines the category (as well as other properties) of the complex word. This is what we find in Table (455), in which the suffixes -el, -er, and -ig determine the category of the derived form; they are verb creating suffixes.

Example 455
Regular complex verbs
suffix stem complex verb
-el brokN'piece' brokkelen'to crumble'
  hinkV'to limp' hinkelen'to play hopscotch'
-er snotN'snot' snotteren'to snivel'
  kiepV'to dump' kieperen'to dump/tumble'
-ig steenN'stone' stenigen'to stone'
  reinA'clean' reinigen'to clean'

Table (456) shows that the prefixes be-, ver- and ont- may also turn nouns and adjectives into verbs. The only other Dutch prefix that has a similar category changing ability is the nominalizing prefix ge-, which was discussed in Section N1.3.1.4; cf. zeurenV 'to nag' - gezeurN 'nagging'.

Example 456
Verbs derived by the prefixes be-, ver- and ont-
suffix stem complex verb
be- dijkN'dike' bedijken'to dike in'
  zatA'drunk' bezatten 'to get/make drunk'
  smerenV'smear' besmeren'to smear on'
ver- zoolN'sole' verzolen'to sole'
  dunA'thin' verdunnen'to dilute'
  zwijgenV'to be silent' verzwijgen'to keep silent about'
ont- bosN'forest' ontbossen'to deforest'
  nuchterA'sober' ontnuchteren'to sober up'
  bindenV'to bind' ontbinden'to dissolve'

Table (456) just provides a couple of typical examples without doing justice to the fact that the nine types of derived verbs can be further divided into several subclasses with special semantic properties; see De Haas & Trommelen (1993) for extensive discussion. Since this section is concerned with the locative alternation, we will focus especially on those derived verbs denoting a change of location or a path; see Section P1.3.1.1 for these notions.

[+]  1.  Deverbal verbs prefixed with be- denoting a change of location

Deverbal verbs prefixed with be- come in various types, subsection I, for example, has shown that in many cases the accusative object of the derived verb corresponds to the nominal part of a prepositional phrase in constructions with the corresponding simple verb; cf. (457).

Example 457
a. Jan spreekt over het probleem.
  Jan talks  about the problem
a'. Jan bespreekt het probleem.
  Jan discusses  the problem
b. De doktor voelde aan zijn arm.
  the doctor  felt  at his arm
b'. De dokter bevoelde zijn arm.
  the doctor  palpated his arm

The present discussion focuses on the locative alternation in (458), in which the prepositional reference object in (458a) surfaces as the direct object of the derived verb in (458b); that the noun phrase has the grammatical function of direct object in this example will be clear from the fact that it is promoted to subject in the corresponding passive construction in (458c). The accusative located object from (458a) surfaces as an optional met-PP in (458b&c); when omitted, the located object is semantically implied in the sense that we can still infer that the reference object is covered with "pastable" objects.

Example 458
a. Jan plakt posters op de muur.
  Jan pastes  posters  on the wall
b. Jan be-plakt de muur (met posters).
  Jan be-pastes  the wall  with posters
c. De muur wordt be-plakt (met posters).
  the wall  is  be-pasted  with posters

There is a marked meaning difference between the two examples in (458a&b): whereas (458a) is compatible with a reading in which the located object covers only part of the reference object, (458b) implies that the reference object is fully (or at least to a very large extent) covered by the located object. This can be brought to the fore by replacing the plural noun phrase de posters in (458) by a singular one; while (459a) is easily possible, example (459b) is only acceptable in the less probable case that the poster covers the wall completely.

Example 459
a. Jan plakt een poster op de muur.
  Jan pastes  a poster  on the wall
  'Jan is pasting a poster on the wall.'
b. $ Jan be-plakt de muur met een poster.
  Jan be-pastes  the wall  with a poster

This contrast suggests that deverbal be-verbs express that their objects are affected as a whole. This might be further supported by the fact that example (458a) also alternates with the construction in (460a), in which the notion of total affectedness is expressed by means of the adjective vol'full'. The crucial observation is that this adjective is not compatible with deverbal be-verbs, which could be accounted for by claiming that (460b) is tautologous: vol and the prefix be- in a sense perform the same semantic function. We will return to a more formal account of this point in Subsection B.

Example 460
a. Jan plakt de muur vol (met posters).
  Jan pastes  the wall  full with posters
b. * Jan be-plakt de muur vol (met posters).
  Jan be-pastes  the wall  full   with posters

Note in passing that the notion of total affectedness should not be taken too literally given that the extent to which the reference object is affected can be further specified by means of attributive modifiers like heel/half'whole/half' or degree modifiers like helemaal/gedeeltelijk'completely/partly'; cf. (461). This suggests that the relevant meaning aspect is simply "affectedness" with the interpretation of "total affectedness" as a default value, which can be overridden by the addition of the modifiers mentioned above.

Example 461
a. Jan be-plakt de hele/halve muur (met posters).
  Jan be-pastes  the whole/half wall   with posters
a'. Jan be-plakt de muur helemaal/gedeeltelijk (met posters).
  Jan be-pastes  the wall  completely/partly   with posters
b. Jan plakt de hele/halve muur vol (met posters).
  Jan pastes  the whole/half wall  full   with posters
b'. Jan plakt de muur helemaal/gedeeltelijk vol (met posters).
  Jan pastes  the wall  completely/partly full   with posters

Table 3 provides a small sample of verbs of the type in (458). Note that not all verbs in this table can also be combined with vol'full'; this is possible with the first five, but not with the latter three. This suggests that the prefix be- and the adjective vol are not fully equivalent semantically; see Van Hout (1996:48) for a first attempt to describe this meaning difference.

Table 3: Deverbal verbs prefixed with be- expressing a change of location
stem verb translation
hangen'to hang' behangen met to paper with
laden 'to load' beladen met to load with
leggen 'to put' beleggen met to fill (a sandwich) with
plakken 'to paste' beplakken met to paste with
smeren 'to smear' besmeren met to smear with
sproeien'to spray' besproeien met to spray with
spuiten'to spray' bespuiten met to spray with
strooien'to strew' bestrooien met to strew with

Note in passing that the verbs in Table 3 do not constitute a uniform set and may exhibit diverging behavior in other respects. For example, whereas the verb plakken must be prefixed with be- in order for the reference object to surface as an accusative object, this does not hold for the verbs laden'to load', (een boterham) smeren'to spread (a sandwich)', (het gazon) sproeien'to water (the lawn)', and (de auto) spuiten'to spray (the car)'; the examples in (462) show for two of these verbs that they alternate not only with the (b)- but also with the (c)-examples.

Example 462
a. Jan smeert boter op zijn brood.
  Jan smears  butter  on his bread
a'. Jan laadt het hooi op de wagen.
  Jan loads  the hay  on the truck
b. Jan be-smeert zijn brood (met boter).
  Jan be-smears  his bread   with butter
b'. Jan be-laadt de wagen (met hooi).
  Jan be-loads the truck  with hay
c. Jan smeert zijn brood (??met boter).
  Jan smears  his bread  with butter
c'. Jan laadt de wagen (?met hooi).
  Jan loads  the truck    with hay

Our judgments in (462) suggest that the met-PP gives rise to a somewhat better result in the (b)- than in the (c)-examples, but this has not been seriously investigated so far. It is also interesting to note that Dutch deverbal be-verbs crucially differ from their English counterparts in that they always allow omission of the met-PP. Hoekstra et al. (1987) note that the English deverbal be-verbs fall into two subgroups in this respect: verbs corresponding to Dutch verbs allowing the (c)-alternant in (462), like to load and to spray in (463a&b), tend to take an optional with-phrase; verbs corresponding to Dutch verbs not allowing this alternant, like to hang and to pack in (463c&d), take an obligatory with-phrase. See Hoekstra & Mulder (1990:20) for more discussion of this contrast between Dutch and English.

Example 463
a. John was loading the hay (on the wagon).
a'. Jan was spraying his car (with paint).
b. John was hanging the wall *(with posters).
b'. John was packing the donkey *(with trunks).
[+]  2.  Denominal verbs prefixed with be-denoting a change of location

De Haas & Trommelen (1993:68-9) show that denominal verbs prefixed with be- can be of various types; here we are interested in cases such as such as (464b). Example (464b) has a meaning similar to (464a), but in addition expresses that the reference object is totally affected; after completion of the activity the bread will be fully covered with butter. Example (464b) further shows that, in a sense, the located object boter'butter' has been incorporated into the verb, that is, has become an inherent part of the be-verb. The prepositional reference object op het brood'on the bread', on the other hand, surfaces as the accusative object of the denominal verb, as is clear from the fact that it is promoted to subject of the clause in the regular passive construction in (464c).

Example 464
a. Jan smeert boter op het brood.
  Jan smears  butter  on the bread
b. Jan be-botert het brood.
  Jan be-butters  the bread
c. Het brood wordt (door Jan) beboterd.
  the bread  is   by Jan  buttered

The examples in (465) show that there is a conspicuous syntactic difference between the two examples in (464a&b); whereas the assertion in (464b) can be made more specific by adding a substance denoting met-PP, the addition of such a PP leads to an incoherent reading in the case of (464a). In order to express the more specific assertion, we should substitute the noun phrase margarine for the direct object boter, as in (465a'). This shows that the denotation of the nominal part of the be-verb has become less prominent as the result of incorporation.

Example 465
a. * Jan smeert boter op het brood met margarine.
  Jan smears  butter  on the bread  with margarine
a'. Jan smeert margarine op het brood.
  Jan smears  margarine  on the bread
b. Jan be-botert het brood met margarine.
  Jan be-butters  the bread  with margarine

The examples in (466) further show that the formation of be-verbs is not fully productive; a noun like jam in (466) cannot be used as the stem of a be-verb. This suggests that the attested denominal be-verbs are listed in the lexicon.

Example 466
a. Jan smeert jam op zijn brood.
  Jan smears  jam  on  his bread
b. * Jan be-jamt zijn brood.

      A small sample of be-verbs of the type in (464) is given in Table 4. The first column provides the nominal stem of the verb and its English translation, the second column gives the derived verb, and the third column gives a translation or paraphrase in English.

Table 4: Denominal verbs prefixed with be- expressing a change of location
stem verb translation
bos'wood' bebossen to afforest
dijk'dike' bedijken to put dikes around/next to
mest 'manure' bemesten to manure
modder 'mud' bemodderen to put mud on
schaduw'shadow' beschaduwen to cast shadow on
vracht'load' bevrachten to put a load on
water'water' bewateren to water

Observe that it is sometimes hard to tell whether we are dealing with a denominal or a deverbal be-verb. The examples in (467), for instance, suggest that beplanten'to plant with' may be deverbal or denominal.

Example 467
a. Jan plantV rozen in zijn tuin.
  Jan plants  roses  in his garden
b. Jan zet plantenN in zijn tuin.
  Jan puts  plants  in his garden
c. Jan be-plant zijn tuin (met rozen).
  Jan be-plants  his garden  with roses
[+]  3.  Deverbal verbs prefixed with be- denoting a direction

The examples discussed in the previous subsections involve some change of location; some entity is relocated with respect to some reference object. The examples in (468) are different in that they involve a path: example (468a) expresses that Jan covers a path that has its endpoint within the hall, and (468b) that Jan covers a path that goes to the top of the mountain.

Example 468
a. Jan treedt de zaal binnen.
  Jan steps  the hall  inside
  'Jan steps into the hall.'
a'. Jan be-treedt de zaal.
  Jan be-steps  the hall
  'Jan enters the hall.'
b. Peter klimt de berg op.
  Peter climbs  the mountain  onto
  'Peter climbs onto the mountain.'
b'. Peter be-klimt de berg.
  Peter be-climbs  the mountain
  'Peter climbs onto the mountain.'

Levin (1993:43) discusses this alternation as a special case but it seems that we are dealing with basically the same phenomenon; the verb is prefixed with be-, and the postpositional phrase de zaal binnen and de berg op are replaced by noun phrases that function as direct objects. The fact that the noun phrases in the primeless and primed examples have different syntactic functions is clear from the fact that they behave differently under passivization; the complement of the postpositional phrase in the primeless examples cannot be promoted to subject, whereas the complement of the be-verb in the primed examples can. This is illustrated in (469) for the (b)-examples in (468).

Example 469
a. * De berg werd vaak op geklommen.
  the mountain  was  often  onto  climbed
b. De berg werd vaak beklommen.
  the mountain  was  often  be-climbed

There is also, however, an essential difference between the change of location and the directional cases; the stem of the directional be-verbs typically belongs to the class of unaccusative verbs. The examples in (470) illustrate the inability of verbs of transitive resultative constructions (that is, constructions in which the complementive is predicated of an accusative noun phrase) to act as the stem of a directional be-verb.

Example 470
a. Jan duwt de autoʼs de berg op.
  Jan pushes  the cars  the mountain  onto
  'Jan pushes the cars onto the mountain.'
a'. * Jan be-duwt de berg (met de autoʼs).
b. De politie slaat de demonstranten het ziekenhuis in.
  the police  hits  the demonstrators  the hospital  into
  'The police are hitting the demonstrators into the hospital.'
b'. * De politie be-slaat het ziekenhuis (met demonstranten).

be-verbs denoting a change of location are not restricted in this way, as will be clear from the difference between the (b)-examples in (470) and the examples in (471).

Example 471
a. Jan slaat de platen op de muur.
  Jan hits  the slabs  onto the wall
b. Jan be-slaat de muur met platen.

In fact, stems of the deverbal be-verbs denoting a change of location are typically transitive. Unaccusative verbs of change of location verbs like vallen'to fall' cannot be used as the input to be-verbs; the examples in (472b&c) show that the reference object can appear neither as an accusative nor as a nominative noun phrase and that the located object cannot be realized as a met-PP.

Example 472
a. De kralen vielen op de grond.
  the beads  fell  to the ground
b. * De kralen be-vielen de grond.
  the beads  be-fell  the ground
c. * De grond be-viel met kralen.
  the ground  be-fell  with beads

The only potential counterexample we could find is given in (473), but it seems likely that we are dealing here with a directional rather than a change of location construction, given that (473c) does not necessarily imply that the lion will land on top of the gazelle; the examples in (473a&b) show that this also holds for the directional, but not for the change of location construction.

Example 473
a. De leeuw sprong op de gazelle ($maar hij miste).
change of location
  the lion  jumped  onto the gazelle     but  he  missed
b. De leeuw sprong naar de gazelle toe (maar hij miste).
directional
  the lion  jumped  to the gazelle  toe   but  he  missed
c. De leeuw be-sprong de gazelle (maar hij miste).
  the lion  be-jumped  the gazelle   but  he  missed

Some potential cases of unaccusative verbs that can be used as input for the formation of directional be-verbs denoting a path are given in Table 5; these cases require a more in-depth investigation.

Table 5: Deverbal directional verbs prefixed with be-
stem verb translation
naderen'approach' benaderen to approach (something)
reizen 'to travel' bereizen to travel through
springen'to jump' bespringen to jump onto
sluipen 'to steal/prowl' besluipen to steal up on
stijgen'to rise' bestijgen to mount/ascent
varen 'to sail' bevaren to sail over
[+]  4.  Denominal verbs prefixed with ont- denoting a direction

Denominal ont-verbs like ontharen'to depilate' and ontkurken'to uncork' in the singly-primed examples in (474) express in a sense the opposite of the denominal be-verbs discussed in Subsection 2; both types denote a change of location but whereas the reference object refers to the new position of the moved entity in the case of the denominal be-verbs, it refers to the original position in the case of the denominal ont-verbs. The doubly-primed examples further show that, like with the be-verbs, the reference object surfaces as the direct object of the ont-verbs, as is clear from the fact that it is promoted to the subject in the regular passive.

Example 474
a. Jan haalt de haren van zijn benen.
  Jan removes  the hairs  from his legs
a'. Jan ont-haart zijn benen.
  Jan ont-hair-s  his legs
  'Jan depilates his legs.'
a''. Zijn benen worden ont-haard.
  his legs  are  ont-hair-ed
b. Marie haalt de kurk uit de fles.
  Marie removes  the cork  out.of  the bottle
b'. Marie ont-kurkt de fles.
  Marie ont-cork-s  the bottle
  'Marie uncorks the bottle.'
b''. De fles wordt ont-kurkt.
  the bottle  is  ont-cork-ed

Table 6 provides some more examples of denominal verbs prefixed by ont-. Sometimes denominal be- and ont-verbs are in opposition, as in bebossen and ontbossen, but in many other cases there are no antonym pairs. This strongly suggests that the formation of be- and ont-verbs is not a productive process and that the attested cases are listed in the lexicon.

Table 6: Denominal verbs prefixed with ont- expressing a direction
stem verb translation
bos'forest' ontbossen to deforest
grond'soil/basis' ontgronden to take away the soil/basis
hoofd'head' onthoofden to decapitate
kalk'lime' ontkalken to decalcify
volk'people' ontvolken to depopulate
[+]  5.  Denominal ver-verbs denoting a change of state

The examples in (475) denote a metaphorical path from one state of affairs into another. The referent of the noun phrase Krakras (a character from a Dutch series of children's books) changes from a state in which it has the form of an unappetizing looking bird into a state in which it looks like a tasty duck that can be used as an ingredient for soup.

Example 475
a. De heks verandert Krakras in een smakelijke soepeend.
  the witch  changes  Krakras  into a tasty soup.duck
b. Krakras verandert in een smakelijke soepeend.
  Krakras  changes  into a tasty soup-duck

Constructions such as (475) often alternate with constructions involving denominal ver-verbs. One example is given in (476a); causative examples, such as (476b'), are sometimes a bit cumbersome.

Example 476
a. Het water veranderde in damp.
  the water  changed  into vapor
a'. Het water verdampte.
  the water  evaporated
b. De hitte veranderde het water in damp.
  the heat  changed  the water  into vapor
b'. ? De hitte verdampte het water.
  the heat  evaporated  the water

More similar cases are given in Table 7. Sometimes the meaning of the denominal ver-verb has narrowed to the paraphrase given after the sign "⇒".

Table 7: Denominal change of state verbs prefixed with ver-
  verb translation
film'movie' verfilmen change into a movie adapt (a story) for the screen
gas'gas' vergassen change into gas
gras'grass' vergrassen change into grassland
kool'coal' verkolen carbonize
snoep 'sweets' versnoepen change into sweets spend money on sweets
water'water' verwateren change into water dilute

Note in passing that the deadjectival verbs prefixed by ver- in the primed examples in (477) express a meaning aspect similar to those in Table 7, but are related to the inchoative copular or resultative constructions in the primeless examples.

Example 477
a. De lakens worden geel.
  the sheets  become  yellow
a'. De lakens vergelen.
  the sheets  get.yellow
b. Deze zeep maakt de was zachter.
  this soap  makes  the laundry  softer
b'. Deze zeep verzacht de was.
  this soap  softens  the laundry
[+]  B.  The syntactic status of the prefix

The prefixes be-, ver- and ont- have the ability to change the category of the stem and thus violate the right-hand head rule. This casts some doubt on the idea that we are dealing with run-of-the-mill prefixes, and it has indeed been claimed that these elements perform a syntactic rather than a morphological function; they are complementives, which have become part of the complex verb as the result of incorporation. The following subsections provide the gist of this proposal and discuss a number of empirical facts supporting it.

[+]  1.  The prefixes be-, ver- and ont- as complementives

The examples in (478a&b) show again that be-verbs can sometimes be paraphrased by means of a resultative construction with the adjectival complementive vol; see Subsection A1 for more discussion. Example (478c) further shows that be-and vol are in complementary distribution.

Example 478
a. Ik be-plant de tuin (met rozen).
  be-plant  the garden  with roses
b. Ik plant de tuin vol (met rozen).
  plant the garden  full  with roses
c. * Ik be-plant de tuin vol (met rozen).
  be-plant  the garden  full  with roses

Following an earlier suggestion by Dik (1980:36), Hoekstra et al. (1987) argued that the pattern in (478) shows that be- functions syntactically as a complementive comparable to vol. However, it has the special property that it has incorporated into the verb; if we assume that the complementive and the noun phrase it is predicated of constitute a small clause, the analysis of the examples in (478a&b) looks as indicated in (479).

Example 479

Example (480) shows that this analysis can be applied more generally. The fact that the simplex reflexive zich can be used with the complex verb bedrinken'get drunk' in (480a) can in fact be seen as an empirical argument in favor of the claim that the element be- functions as a complementive; example (480b) shows that, in contrast to internal arguments of verbs, subjects of complementives normally can be realized by such a reflexive (see Section 2.5.2, sub I and Section N5.2.1.5 for discussion).

Example 480
a. dat hij zich be-drinkt.
  that he  refl  be-drinks
  'that heʼs getting very drunk.'
b. dat hij zich zat drinkt.
  that he  refl  very.drunk  drinks
  'that heʼs getting very drunk.'
c.

The following subsections will provide evidence that a considerable subset of the complex verbs prefixed by be-, ver- and ont- can be derived in a similar way, that is, by incorporation of these elements into the verb. To which extent this type of analysis can be applied to the class as a whole is not a priori clear. The semantic correspondence between the examples in (481a&b), for instance, may give rise to the idea that they have a similar underlying structure in which the adjective vuil'dirty' acts as a complementive and that be- is hence a causative element that attracts the predicative part of the small clause, as in (481c).

Example 481
Derivation of causative be-verbs (version 1)
a. dat Jan [SC het tapijt vuil] maakte.
  that  Jan  the carpet  dirty  made
b. dat Jan het tapijt be-vuil-de.
  that  Jan  the carpet  be-dirty-past
c.

This analysis may be less attractive, however, since it reintroduces the problem that the prefix be- is exceptional in that it determines the category of the complex form in violation of the right-hand head rule. It therefore does not come as a surprise that it has been proposed that (481c) is in fact not the correct analysis. Hoekstra (2004:365ff.) argues that the derivation of (481b) proceeds in essentially the same way as in (479) with the difference that the verb into which be- incorporates is an abstract (phonetically empty) causative verb: the adjective must also be incorporated in order to satisfy the requirement that the prefix be- be morphologically supported. See Mulder (1992:ch.9) for an alternative proposal.

Example 482
Derivation of causative be-verbs (version 2)

It should be noted, however, that this analysis implies that be- is polysemous: in examples like (478c) and (480b) it is a monadic predicate that expresses some notion of total affectedness, whereas in (482) it functions as a dyadic predicate with a meaning comparable to the copular verb zijn'to be'. In fact, Hoekstra suggests that this does not exhaust the possibilities and proposes a derivation for "ornative" be-verbs like bewapenen'to arm' along the lines in (483b), in which be- is again a dyadic predicate, but now with a meaning comparable to the verb hebben'to have'.

Example 483
Derivation of ornative be-verbs
a. dat Jan de vijand be-wapen-de.
  that  Jan the enemy  be-arm-past
  'that Jan was arming the enemy.'
b.

It goes without saying that derivations similar to those in (482) and (483) can be used in order to derive denominal and deadjectival ver- and ont-verbs. Yet another case discussed by Hoekstra is the construction in (484). He claims that this is in fact an applicative (= preposition incorporation) construction of the type extensively described by Baker (1988) for languages like Chichewa; see also Voskuyl (1996). The analysis that Hoekstra suggests is given in (484b).

Example 484
a. dat Jan het probleem be-spreek-t .
  that  Jan the problem be-speak-present
  'that Jan discusses the problem.'
b.

As the discussion above shows, it seems possible to account for a large variety of be-, ver- and ont-verbs by means of syntactic incorporation. This proposal is motivated not only by the fact that it may provide an account for the exceptional behavior of these prefixes with respect to the right-hand head rule, but by a larger set of empirical data that will be discussed in the following subsections.

[+]  2.  Incompatibility with complementives

The incorporation analysis can immediately account for the complementarity in distribution of be- and the adjectival complementive vol'full' in example (478c) by appealing to the more general restriction that a clause can contain at most one complementive. More examples that show that verbs prefixed by be-, ver- and ont- cannot be combined with a complementive are given in (485); see Section 2.2.1, sub IV, for discussion.

Example 485
a. dat de dokter hem genezen acht/*behandelt.
  that  the doctor  him  cured  considers/treats
  'that the doctor considers him cured.'
b. dat Jan het huis groter maakt/*verbouwt.
  that  Jan  the house  bigger  makes/rebuilds
  'that Jan is making the house bigger.'
c. dat Marie haar benen glad scheert/*onthaart.
  that  Marie  her legs  smooth  shaves/depilates
  'that Marie is shaving her legs smooth.'
[+]  3.  Placement and omission of (apparent) predicative PPs

At first sight, the examples in (486) seem to constitute counterexamples to the claim that complex verbs prefixed by be- cannot take a complementive; the tot/als-phrases seem to be predicated of the accusative noun phrases and hence to function as complementives. There are, however, at least two reasons for rejecting this conclusion. The first reason is that the tot/als-phrases are optional and the second that they can occur in postverbal position. These facts follow immediately, however, if it is the prefix that functions as the complementive: the tot-phrases would then have some other function and would therefore not be expected to exhibit the behavior of run-of-the-mill complementives.

Example 486
a. dat Jan hem <tot voorzitter> benoemt <tot voorzitter>.
  that  Jan him    to chairman  appoints
  'that Jan appoints him chairman.'
b. dat Jan haar <tot ontrouw> verleidt <tot ontrouw>.
  that  Jan her    to unfaithfulness  seduces
  'that Jan is seducing her to becoming unfaithful.'
c. dat de rechter hem <tot de galg> veroordeelt <tot de galg>.
  that  the judge  him  to the gallows  condemns
  'that the judge condemns him to the gallows.'
d. dat Jan hem <tot de voordeur> begeleidt <tot de voordeur>.
  that  Jan  him    to the front.door  accompanies
  'that Jan is accompanying him to the front door.'
e. dat ik hem <als mijn vriend> beschouw <als mijn vriend>.
  that  him     as my friend  consider
  'that I consider him as my friend.'

This proposal comes very close to the one proposed for particle constructions such as (487b); Section 2.2.1, sub IV, has shown that in such constructions it is the particle neer'down' that functions as the complementive. The contrast between the (a)- and (b)-examples in (487) is therefore due to the fact that the PP op de tafel in (487b) differs from the one in (487a) in that it does not function as a complementive, and can therefore be omitted or occur in postverbal position.

Example 487
a. Jan heeft het boek *(op de tafel) gelegd.
  Jan has  the book    on the table  put
a'. * Jan heeft het boek gelegd op de tafel.
b. Jan heeft het boek (op de tafel) neer gelegd.
  Jan has  the book   on the table  down  put
b'. Jan heeft het boek neer gelegd op de tafel.
[+]  4.  Argument structure

If the prefixes be-, ver- and ont- indeed originate as the predicative heads of small clauses, we would expect them to exhibit an effect on argument structure similar to complementives and verbal particles; see Section 2.2 for extensive discussion. The examples in (488a&b) show that the use of an adjectival complementive may add an argument to the otherwise impersonal verb vriezen'to freeze', and (488c) shows that prefixation with be- may have a similar effect. The fact that (488b&c) both take the perfect auxiliary zijn'to be' shows that we are dealing with unaccusative structures, and this is of course expected given that the additional argument is introduced as the subject of a small clause headed by, respectively, dood and be-.

Example 488
a. Het/*Jan heeft gevroren.
  it/Jan  has  frozen
b. Jan is dood gevroren.
  Jan is  to.death  frozen
c. Jan is bevroren.
  Jan is frozen

The examples in (489) show that prefixation with ver- and ont- may likewise add an argument to the otherwise impersonal verbs waaien'to blow' and dooien'to thaw'.

Example 489
a. Het/*Haar kapsel waait.
  it/her coiffure  blows
a'. Haar kapsel verwaait.
  her coiffure  is.blown.in.disorder
b. Het/*De spinazie dooit.
  it/the spinach  thaws
b'. De spinazie ontdooit.
  the spinach defrosts

      The primeless examples in (490) show that the use of the adjectival complementive plat'flat' adds an argument to the otherwise intransitive verb lopen'to walk' and that prefixation with be- again has a similar effect. The primed examples show the same thing for the prefix ver-. Cases like these are less easy to find for verbs with the prefix ont-.

Example 490
a. Jan loopt (*het gras).
  Jan walks     the grass
a'. Jan vloekt (*zijn computer).
  Jan swears     his computer
b. Jan loopt het gras plat.
  Jan walks  the grass  flat
b'. Jan vloekt zijn computer uit.
  Jan swears  his computer  prt.
c. Jan beloopt het gras.
  Jan walks.on  the grass
c'. Jan vervloekt zijn computer
  Jan curses  his computer

      The (a)-examples in (491) show that adding a locational complementive to an intransitive verb may also give rise to an unaccusative verb; whereas the primeless example takes the auxiliary hebben'to have', the primed example with the complementive weg'away' takes the auxiliary zijn'to be', which is sufficient for assuming unaccusative status. The (b)-examples show that prefixing with ver- may have a similar effect; other unaccusative verbs prefixed with this affix are vertrekken'to leave' and vertoeven'to stay'. It seems that the prefixes be- and ont- do not trigger this effect.

Example 491
a. Jan heeft/*is gewandeld.
  Jan has/is  walked
a'. Jan is/*heeft weg gewandeld.
  Jan is/has  away  walked
b. Jan heeft/*is gedwaald.
  Jan has/is  roamed
b'. Jan is/*heeft verdwaald.
  Jan is/has  lost.his.way

      Example (492a) further shows that the addition of a complementive to an unaccusative verb normally does not have an effect on the number of arguments. The nominative argument, however, is no longer licensed by the verb but by the complementive, as is clear from the fact that the complementive cannot be omitted. Example (492b) shows that the nominative argument can likewise be licensed by the prefix ver-. The primed examples show that the same thing holds for transitive verbs; the number of arguments is not affected but the accusative argument is semantically licensed, not by the verb, but by the complementive or the verbal prefix.

Example 492
a. Het huis viel *(in elkaar).
  the house  fell     apart
a'. Jan dronk zijn verdriet *(weg).
  Jan drank  his sorrow    away
b. Het huis verviel.
  the house  decayed
b'. Jan verdronk zijn verdriet.
  John  drank.away  his sorrow

Like verbal particles, prefixation may affect the aspectual properties of the construction; cf. Van Hout (1996:176ff.). We show this here by means of the unaccusative verb branden'to burn'; whereas the construction in (493a) is atelic, the constructions in (493b&c) with, respectively, a particle verb and a verb prefixed by ver- are telic. This aspectual difference is clear from the fact that the former takes the perfect auxiliary hebben'to have' and the latter the perfect auxiliary zijn'to be'; see Section 2.1.2, sub III, for a discussion of the relation between auxiliary selection and telicity.

Example 493
a. Het huis heeft/*is gebrand.
  the house  has/is  burnt
b. Het huis is/*heeft afgebrand.
  the house  is/has  down-burnt
c. Het huis is/*heeft verbrand.
  the house  is/has  burnt.down
[+]  5.  Conclusion

The subsections above discussed the hypothesis proposed in Hoekstra et al. (1987) that the prefixes be-, ver- and ont- syntactically function as complementives and provided empirical evidence in favor of this claim. We should be careful, however, given that the derivation of deverbal verbs prefixed by these prefixes is not a fully productive process, which raises complex issues concerning the relation between syntax and morphology. Furthermore, many of the presumed input verbs are obsolete or no longer used with the intended meaning, and the output forms often exhibit idiosyncratic behavior. Given the complexity of the topic, this hypothesis is in need of a more thorough investigation.

References:
  • Baker, Mark C1988Incorporation. A theory of grammatical function changingChicago/LondonUniversity of Chicago Press
  • Dik, Simon C1980Studies in functional grammarLondon/New YorkAcademic Press
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hoekstra, Teun2004Arguments and structure. Studies on the architecture of the sentenceBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
  • Hoekstra, Teun, Lansu, Monic & Westerduin, Marion1987Complexe verbaGLOT1061-77
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  • Hoekstra, Teun, Lansu, Monic & Westerduin, Marion1987Complexe verbaGLOT1061-77
  • Hoekstra, Teun, Lansu, Monic & Westerduin, Marion1987Complexe verbaGLOT1061-77
  • Hoekstra, Teun & Mulder, René1990Unergatives as copular verbs: locational and existential predicationThe Linguistic Review71-79
  • Hout, Angeliek van1996Event semantics of verb frame alternations: a case study of Dutch and its acquisitionTilburgTilburg UniversityThesis
  • Hout, Angeliek van1996Event semantics of verb frame alternations: a case study of Dutch and its acquisitionTilburgTilburg UniversityThesis
  • Hout, Angeliek van1996Event semantics of verb frame alternations: a case study of Dutch and its acquisitionTilburgTilburg UniversityThesis
  • Levin, Beth1993English verb classes and alternationsChicago/LondonUniversity of Chicago Press
  • Levin, Beth1993English verb classes and alternationsChicago/LondonUniversity of Chicago Press
  • Levin, Beth1993English verb classes and alternationsChicago/LondonUniversity of Chicago Press
  • Mulder, René1992The aspectual nature of syntactic complementationLeidenUniversity of LeidenThesis
  • Voskuyl, Jan1996Comparative morphology. Verb taxonomy in Indonesian, Tagalog and DutchUniversity of LeidenThesis
  • Williams, Edwin1981On the notions `lexically related' and `head of a word'Linguistic Inquiry12254-274
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