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4.4.3. Te-infinitivals
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This section shows that from an observational point of view clausal complements headed by a te-infinitive can be divided into at least three subtypes: one type that exhibits behavior similar to om + te infinitivals, one type exhibiting behavior similar to bare infinitivals, and a third type that exhibits mixed behavior. The main characteristics of the three types are given in (52).

Example 52
Types of te-infinitivals
a. Opaque: no clause splitting and no IPP-effect
b. Transparent: clause splitting and IPP-effect
c. Semi-transparent: clause splitting and no IPP

The abbreviation IPP stands for the infinitivus-pro-participio effect, the phenomenon that matrix verbs sometimes cannot appear as past participles in perfect-tense constructions but must surface as infinitives. Section 4.4.2, sub III, has shown that this effect is obligatory in constructions with bare infinitivals, but Subsections I to III below will demonstrate that this does not hold for te-infinitivals; obligatory IPP is only found with transparent te-infinitivals.
      The term clause splitting refers to the phenomenon that infinitival clauses can be discontinuous: the infinitive and its arguments may surface on different sides of the matrix verb in clause-final position. Evidence has been presented in Section 4.4.2, sub II, that in the case of bare infinitivals clause splitting is a concomitant effect of verb clustering, that is, the formation of an impermeable series of verbs in clause-final position, subsection IV will show, however, that clause splitting is probably not a uniform process in the case of te-infinitivals: transparent and semi-transparent te-infinitivals are different in that only the former involve verb clustering in the technical sense given above.
      The term opaque (or incoherent) as applied to the infinitival clause refers to the fact that such clauses constitute an independent clausal domain in the sense that they may block locally restricted syntactic dependencies like NP-movement or binding of the simplex reflexive zich'him/her/itself'. Transparent (or coherent) infinitives, on the other hand, behave in certain respects as if they constitute a single clause with the matrix clause: they do not block such dependencies.
      Another term for transparency found in the literature is restructuring, which has a transformational background in that it was assumed that an underlying biclausal structure is transformationally restructured such that the embedded infinitival clause forms a monoclausal structure with the matrix clause; see Evers (1975), Rizzi (1982:ch.1) and much subsequent work. Since several more recent approaches do not adopt this transformational view, we will not use this notion in this work in order to avoid unnecessary theoretical bias.

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[+]  I.  Opaque te-infinitivals

Verbs taking opaque te-infinitival complement clauses are, e.g., nom-dat verbs, PO-verbs and particle verbs; see Evers (1975:39ff) and Den Besten et al. (1988). The primeless examples in (53) show that such verbs do not allow clause splitting; like o m + te-infinitivals, the te-infinitival is in extraposed position, that is, placed in a position following the matrix verb in clause-final position. The primed examples further show that the matrix verbs appear as participles in the perfect tense, that is, as in the case of infinitival clauses introduced by om, there is no IPP-effect. For convenience, we will italicize the te-infinitivals in the examples below and refrain from indicating their implied PRO-subject for the sake of simplicity.

Example 53
a. dat het hem <*het boek> berouwt <het boek> gekocht te hebben.
  that  it  him  the book  regrets  bought  to have
  'that he regrets it that he has bought the book.'
a'. Het heeft hem berouwd/*berouwen het boek gekocht te hebben.
  it  has  him  regretted/repent  the book  bought  to have
  'He has regretted it that he has bought the book.'
b. dat Jan ertoe <*het boek> neigt <het boek> te kopen.
  that  Jan to.it      the book  inclines  to buy
  'that Jan is inclined to buy the book.'
b'. Jan is ertoe geneigd/*neigen het boek te kopen.
  Jan is  to.it  inclined/incline  the book  to buy
  'Jan is inclined to buy the book.'
c. dat Peter Marie <??dat boek> opdraagt <dat boek> te kopen.
  that  Peter Marie      that book  prt.-ordered   to buy
  'that Peter orders Marie to buy that book.'
c'. Peter heeft Marie opgedragen/*opdragen dat boek te kopen.
  Peter has  Marie prt.-ordered/prt.-order  that book  to buy
  'Peter has ordered Marie to buy that book.'

Opaque infinitivals appear to be characterized by the fact that they do not have the syntactic function of direct object of the matrix verb, nor are they assigned a thematic role by it. The infinitival clauses in the (a)-examples above function as subjects and may also be introduced by the anticipatory subject pronoun het'it'. The infinitival clauses in the (b)-examples correspond to the nominal part of a PP-complement of the matrix verb, as is clear from the fact that they can be introduced by the anticipatory pronominal PP ertoe'to it'. The infinitival clauses in the (c)-examples, finally, are not arguments of the verb at all but licensed as logical subjects of the verbal particle op; see Section 2.2.1.

[+]  II.  Transparent te-infinitivals

Verbs selecting a transparent infinitival complement often have a modal or aspectual interpretation. Examples are the modal verbs schijnen'to seem', lijken'to appear' and blijken'to turn out'. That the infinitival complements of these verbs are transparent is clear from the fact that they are obligatorily split; whereas the te-infinitive in (54) must follow the matrix verb in clause-final position, its object must precede it.

Example 54
dat Jan <een nieuwe auto> schijnt <*een nieuwe auto> te kopen.
  that  Jan    a new car  seems  to buy
'that Jan seems to be buying a new car.'

That the infinitival complement in (54) is transparent is also clearly shown by the fact that we are dealing with subject raising, that is, promotion of the subject of the infinitival clause to nominative subject of the higher clause. This will become clear when we consider the near-equivalent examples in (55): the subject of the finite complement clause in (55a) appears as the nominative subject of the entire sentence in (55b), in which the complement clause is infinitival.

Example 55
a. Het schijnt dat Jan een nieuwe auto koopt.
  it  seems  that  Jan a new car buys
  'It seems that Jan is buying a new car.'
b. dat Jan een nieuwe auto schijnt te kopen.
  that  Jan  a new car  seems  to buy
  'that Jan seems to be buying a new car.'

Unfortunately, it is more difficult to illustrate that the modal verbs schijnen'to seem', lijken'to appear' and blijken'to appear' trigger the IPP-effect, for the simple reason that not all speakers allow them to occur in perfect-tense constructions, especially not if they take an infinitival complement. Speakers that do allow IPP, however, normally prefer the use of an infinitive.

Example 56
dat Jan een nieuwe auto heeft %schijnen/*geschenen te kopen.
  that  Jan a new car  has     seem/seemed  to buy
'that Jan has seemed to buy a new car.'

Other examples of transparent te-infinitivals mentioned both by Evers (1975:5) and Den Besten et al. (1988) are the somewhat formal/obsolete semi-modals dienen'to be obliged to', plegen'to be accustomed/tend' and weten'to be able to', which seem to have a deontic interpretation and are probably best analyzed as control structures. It is, however, hard to find support for this analysis given that the infinitival clauses cannot be pronominalized without the loss of the modal interpretation of the matrix verbs. The transparent nature of the te-infinitivals in (57) is clear from the fact that clause splitting and the IPP-effect are obligatory in these examples.

Example 57
a. dat Jan <dat boek> dient <*dat boek> te lezen.
  that  Jan  that book  is.obliged  to read
  'that Jan has to read that book.'
a'. dat Jan dat boek heeft dienen/*gediend te lezen.
  that  Jan  that book  has  be.obliged/been.obliged  to read
  'that Jan has had to read that book.'
b. dat Marie <dat boek> weet <*dat boek> te bemachtigen.
  that  Marie    that book  knows  to obtain
  'that Marie is able (knows how) to obtain that book.'
b'. dat Marie dat boek heeft weten/*geweten te bemachtigen.
  that  Marie  that book  has  know/known  to obtain
  'that Marie has been able to obtain that book.'
[+]  III.  Semi-transparent te-infinitivals

Evers (1975) suggested that te-infinitivals functioning as theme arguments and surfacing as direct objects can (in our terms) be either opaque or transparent, but he also noted that some verbs, his class IIIb, are not very particular in the sense that they can select either type. We illustrate this in (58) with perfect-tense constructions containing the matrix verb proberen'to try'. The fact that the verb appears as a participle in (58a) but as an infinitive in (58b) suggests that we are dealing with, respectively, an opaque and a transparent infinitival clause in these examples. This is also supported by the fact that the infinitival clause is split in (58b), but not in (58a). Following the standard hypothesis of the time that Dutch has an underlying OV-order, Evers accounted for this by assuming that the direct object clause is base-generated to the left of the matrix verb, and that (58a) and (58b) are derived by, respectively, extraposition of the entire clause and verb raising of the infinitival verb te lezen'to read'.

Example 58
a. dat Jan heeft ti geprobeerd [PRO dat boek te lezen]i.
opaque
  that  Jan  has  tried  that book  to read
  'that Jan has tried to read that book.'
b. dat Jan [PRO dat boek tte lezen] heeft proberen te lezen.
transparent
  that  Jan  that book  has  try  to read
  'that Jan has tried to read that book.'

The examples in (59) suggest, however, that it is not sufficient to assume that certain verbs optionally trigger extraposition or verb raising. The unacceptability of example (59a) first shows that extraposition indeed requires the matrix verb to surface as a past participle in perfect-tense constructions; there are no extraposition constructions that involve IPP in Standard Dutch (but see Barbiers et al., 2008: Section 2.3.6.1.3, for a number of Flemish and Frisian dialects that do accept examples such as (59a)). Den Besten et al. (1988) found, however, that clause splitting is very common when the matrix verb appears as a participle, that is, clause splitting does not require IPP as is clear from the fact that it is easy to find example (59b) alongside (58b); cf. Gerritsen (1991: Map 25), Haeseryn et al. (1997:950-2), Barbiers et al. (2008), and taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/674.

Example 59
a. * dat Jan heeft proberen dat boek te lezen.
  that  Jan  has  try  that book  to read
  'that Jan has tried to read that book.'
b. dat Jan dat boek heeft geprobeerd te lezen.
semi-transparent
  that  Jan that book  has  tried  to read
  'that Jan has tried to read that book.'

Note in passing that the verb proberen is special in that it seems equally acceptable with opaque, transparent and semi-transparent infinitival complement clauses. Many verbs are more restrictive in this respect (although there is always some variation in what speakers do or do not accept): besluiten'to decide', for example, can only take opaque or semi-transparent te-infinitivals, as is clear from the fact illustrated in (60b') that it is incompatible with the IPP-effect.

Example 60
a. dat Jan <dat boek> besloot <dat boek> te lezen.
  that  Jan   that book  decided  to read
  'that Jan has decided to read that book.'
b. dat Jan <dat boek> heeft <dat boek> besloten te lezen.
opaque/semi-tr.
  that  Jan   that book  has  decided  to read
  'that Jan decided to read that book.'
b'. * dat Jan dat boek heeft besloten/*?besluiten te lezen.
transparent
  that  Jan that book  has  decided/decide  to read
  'that Jan has decided to read that book.'
[+]  IV.  Potential problems with the classification of te-infinitivals

The main conclusion to be drawn from Subsections I to III is that from an observational point of view we can distinguish the three types of te-infinitivals in (61) on the basis of whether or not clause splitting and IPP are possible.

Example 61
Types of te-infinitivals
a. Opaque: no clause splitting and no IPP-effect
b. Transparent: clause splitting and IPP-effect
c. Semi-transparent: clause splitting and no IPP

It should be pointed out, however, that semi-transparent te-infinitivals differ from transparent ones in that the former do not require that all non-verbal constituents of the infinitival clause precede the matrix verb; cf. the contrast between the two examples in (62). This bears out that clause splitting of semi-transparent te-infinitivals is not the result of verb clustering in the technical sense defined in the introduction to this section, that is, the formation of an impermeable series of verbs in clause-final position.

Example 62
a. dat Marie die jongen <een kus> heeft proberen <*een kus> te geven.
  that  Marie that boy     a kiss  has  try  to give
b. dat Marie die jongen <een kus> heeft geprobeerd <een kus> te geven.
  that  Marie that boy     a kiss  has  tried  to give
  'that Marie has tried to give that boy a kiss.'

Constructions with semi-transparent te-infinitivals like (59b) and (62b) were referred to as the third construction in Den Besten et al. (1988), but have become known later as the remnant extraposition construction. Den Besten et al. (1988) derived the construction by a combination of extraposition of the te-infinitival and leftward movement of one or more of its constituents. As a result, the extraposed phrase consists of merely a remnant of the original te-infinitival (see also Reuland 1981). If we adopt the leftward movement analysis (while leaving open the question as to whether extraposition involves rightward movement of the infinitival clause), the representations of (59b) in (62b) are as given in (63).

Example 63
a. dat Jan dat boeki heeft geprobeerd [PROti te lezen].
b. dat Marie die jongeni een kusj heeft geprobeerd [PRO titj te geven].
b'. dat Marie die jongeni heeft geprobeerd [PRO ti een kus te geven].

The fact that the direct object een kus'a kiss' in (62b) may either precede or follow the clause-final verbs implies that the postulated leftward movement is optional. This means that it is no longer obvious that the te-infinitivals in examples such as (64) should be considered opaque as they can also be analyzed as semi-transparent clauses without the postulated leftward movements in (63).

Example 64
a. dat Jan heeft geprobeerd dat boek te lezen.
  that  Jan  has  tried   that book  to read
  'that Jan has tried to read that book.'
b. dat Marie heeft geprobeerd die jongen een kus te geven.
  that  Marie has  tried  that boy  a kiss  to give
  'that Marie has tried to give that boy a kiss.'

All of this might indicate that Den Besten et al. (1988) were wrong in assuming that there are opaque te-infinitivals, and that rather we have to assume that all te-infinitivals are (semi-)transparent. If so, the "opaque" cases discussed in Subsection I cannot be described by appealing to the label "clause type". Since (semi-)transparent infinitival clauses differ crucially from the opaque infinitival clauses discussed in Subsection I in that they (i) are selected as internal arguments of a verb and (ii) have the syntactic function of direct object, this may be the key to the solution. This will be one of the topics addressed in our more extensive discussion of te-infinitivals in Section 5.2.2.

References:
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Besten, Hans den, Rutten, Jean, Veenstra, Tonjes & Veld, Joop1988Verb raising, Extraposition and de derde constructie
  • Evers, Arnold1975The transformational cycle in Dutch and GermanUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Evers, Arnold1975The transformational cycle in Dutch and GermanUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Evers, Arnold1975The transformational cycle in Dutch and GermanUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Evers, Arnold1975The transformational cycle in Dutch and GermanUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Gerritsen, Marinel1991Atlas van de Nederlandse dialecten (AND). deel IAmsterdamP.J. Meertens Instituut
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Reuland, Eric1981On extraposition of complement clausesNELS11296-318
  • Rizzi, Luigi1982Issues in Italian SyntaxDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications
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