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5.1.2.2. The placement of finite object clauses
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This section discusses the placement of finite object clauses. The most common position for such clauses is after the clause-final verbs but they can also occur in sentence-initial position (observe that we do not use the notion clause-initial here for the simple reason that the initial position of embedded clauses cannot be occupied by non-wh-phrases). Normally, finite object clauses (with the possible exception of factive clauses discussed in Section 5.1.2.3) do not occur in the middle field of the clause, subsections I to III below discuss these three options in more detail.

Example 60
a. Jan heeft (het) gisteren gezegd [dat Marie ziek is].
clause-final
  Jan has   it  yesterday  said   that  Marie  ill  is
  'Jan said yesterday that Marie is ill.'
b. * Jan heeft gisteren [dat Marie ziek is] gezegd.
clause-internal
  Jan has  yesterday   that  Marie ill  is  said
c. [Dat Marie ziek is] (dat) heeft Jan gisteren gezegd.
sentence-initial
  that  Marie ill  is   that  has  Jan yesterday  said
  'That Marie is ill Jan said yesterday.'

The examples in (60a&c) also show that object clauses in clause-final and sentence-initial position differ in that the former can be preceded by the anticipatory object pronoun het, whereas the latter can be followed by the resumptive demonstrative pronoun dat'that'. We take this as a hallmark of argument clauses, and will use it as a test to determine whether or not we are dealing with object clauses, subsection IV will show that according to this test conditional clauses introduced by als, which are analyzed as object clauses in Haeseryn et al. (1997:1155), are in fact adverbial adjuncts.

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[+]  I.  Extraposed position

Finite direct object clauses differ from nominal direct objects in that they must follow the verbs in clause-final position in neutral contexts. This is illustrated in (61): whereas the primeless examples show that nominal direct objects must precede the main verb in clause-final position, the primed examples show that direct object clauses can follow it.

Example 61
a. Jan heeft Marie <zijn belevenissen> verteld <*zijn belevenissen>.
  Jan has  Marie    his adventures  told
  'Jan has told Marie his adventures.'
a'. Jan heeft Marie verteld [dat hij beroofd was].
  Jan has  Marie  told   that  he  robbed  was
  'Jan has told Marie that he was robbed.'
b. Els zal <de gebeurtenis> onderzoeken <*de gebeurtenis>.
  Els will     the event  investigate
  'Els will investigate the event.'
b'. Els zal onderzoeken [of Jan beroofd is].
  Els will  investigate  whether  Jan robbed  is
  'Els will investigate whether Jan has been robbed.'

In fact, it seems that object clauses normally follow all non-clausal constituents of their clause including those placed after the verbs in clause-final position. This is illustrated in (62) for, respectively, a prepositional indirect object and a temporal adverbial phrase. The unacceptable orders improve when the object clause is followed by an intonation break, in which case the PP/adverbial phrase would express an afterthought.

Example 62
a. Jan heeft verteld <aan Marie> [dat hij beroofd was] <*aan Marie>.
  Jan has  told    to Marie   that  he  robbed  was
  'Jan has told Marie that he was robbed.'
b. Els zal onderzoeken <morgen> [of Jan beroofd is] <*morgen>.
  Els will  investigate  tomorrow  whether  Jan robbed  is
  'Els will investigate tomorrow whether Jan has been robbed.'

Direct object clauses are, however, followed by extraposed adverbial clauses. This is illustrated in the primeless examples in (63) for adverbial clauses expressing time and reason, respectively; the number signs preceding the primed examples indicate that these examples are only acceptable if the adverbial clause is interpreted parenthetically, in which case it must be preceded and followed by an intonation break. Note in passing that example (63a) is actually ambiguous; the adverbial clauses may in principle also be construed as part of the object clause, in which case it does not refer to the time at which John told that he was robbed, but to the time at which the robbery took place.

Example 63
a. Jan heeft verteld [dat hij beroofd was] [direct nadat hij thuis kwam].
  Jan has  told   that  he  robbed  was]   right  after  he  home  came
  'Jan has said that he was robbed immediately after he came home.'
a'. # Jan heeft verteld [direct nadat hij thuis kwam] [dat hij beroofd was].
b. Els zal onderzoeken [of Jan beroofd is] [omdat zij het niet gelooft].
  Els will  investigate  whether  Jan robbed  is  because  she  it  not believes
  'Els will investigate whether Jan has been robbed since she doesnʼt believe it.'
b'. # Els zal onderzoeken [omdat zij het niet gelooft] [of Jan beroofd is].

Direct object clauses can also be followed by elements that are not part of the sentence, like the epithet in (64a) or the afterthought in (64b). Such elements are normally preceded by an intonation break.

Example 64
a. Jan heeft Marie verteld [dat hij beroofd was], de leugenaar.
  Jan has  Marie  told   that  he  robbed  was  the liar
  'Jan has told Marie that he was robbed, the liar.'
b. Els zal onderzoeken [of Jan beroofd is], (en) terecht.
  Els will  investigate  whether  Jan robbed  is  and  with.good.reason
  'Els will investigate whether Jan has been robbed, and rightly so.'

Finite object clauses in extraposed position can be introduced by the anticipatory pronoun het'it', which we have indicated here by means of subscripts; see also Section 5.1.1, sub III.

Example 65
a. Jan zal heti Marie morgen vertellen [dat hij beroofd was]i.
  Jan will  it  Marie  tomorrow  tell   that  he  robbed  was
  'Jan will tell Marie tomorrow that he was robbed.'
b. Els zal heti morgen onderzoeken [of Jan beroofd is]i.
  Els will  it  tomorrow  investigate  whether  Jan robbed  is
  'Els will investigate tomorrow whether Jan has been robbed.'
[+]  II.  Middle field

The examples in (66) show that as a general rule direct object clauses do not precede their matrix verb in clause-final position.

Example 66
a. Jan heeft gisteren beweerd [dat Els gaat emigreren].
  Jan has  yesterday  claimed   that  Els  goes  emigrate
  'Jan claimed yesterday that Els is going to emigrate.'
a'. * Jan heeft [dat Els gaat emigreren] gisteren beweerd.
b. Marie zal grondig onderzoeken [of het waar is].
  Marie will  thoroughly  investigate  whether  it  true  is
  'Marie will investigate thoroughly whether it is true.'
b'. * Marie zal [of het waar is] grondig onderzoeken.

There are, however, a number of potential counterexamples to this general rule. First, the examples in (67) show that free relative clauses can generally either precede of follow the verbs in clause-final position. We have seen in Section 5.1.1, sub IV, that this is one of a large number of reasons for assuming that free relatives should not be considered argument clauses but noun phrases. Thus, the surprising thing is that example (67a) is acceptable, but it can be accounted for by assuming that free relatives can be in extraposed position just like relative clauses with an overt antecedent: dat Jan de man prijst [die hij bewondert]'that Jan praises the man who he admires'.

Example 67
a. dat Jan prijst [wie hij bewondert].
  that  Jan praises   who  he  admires
  'that Jan praises whoever he admires.'
b. dat Jan [wie hij bewondert] prijst.

Secondly, we find similar ordering alternations with so-called factive verbs like onthullen'to reveal' and betreuren'to regret'. Although some speakers may judge the primed examples as marked compared to the primeless examples, they seem well-formed and are certainly much better than the primed examples in (66). Barbiers (2000) suggests that the markedness of the primed examples is not related to grammaticality issues but due to the fact that center-embedding of longer constituents normally gives rise to processing difficulties.

Example 68
a. Jan heeft gisteren onthuld [dat Els gaat emigreren].
  Jan has  yesterday  revealed   that  Els  goes  emigrate
  'Jan revealed yesterday that Els is going to emigrate.'
a'. Jan heeft [dat Els gaat emigreren] gisteren onthuld.
b. Jan heeft nooit betreurd [dat hij taalkundige is geworden].
  Jan has  never  regretted   that  he  linguist  has  become
  'Jan has never regretted that he has become a linguist.'
b'. Jan heeft [dat hij taalkundige is geworden] nooit betreurd.

The main difference between the (a)-examples in (66) and (68) is related to the truth of the proposition expressed by the embedded clause; cf. Kiparsky & Kiparsky (1970). Consider the examples in (69). Sentence (69a) shows that the proposition expressed by the clausal complement of beweren'to claim' in (66a) can be denied by the speaker without any problem; the speaker does not commit himself to the truth of the proposition, but instead attributes the responsibility for its truth to Jan. Things are different when the speaker uses a factive verb like onthullen'to reveal'; by using this verb the speaker presupposes that the proposition "Els is going to emigrate" is true. This is clear from the fact that the denial in the second conjunct in (69b) is surprising, to say the least.

Example 69
a. Jan heeft beweerd [dat Els gaat emigreren], maar dat is niet waar.
  Jan has  claimed   that  Els goes  emigrate  but  that  is not true
  'Jan has said that Els is going to emigrate, but that isnʼt true.'
b. $ Jan heeft onthuld [dat Els gaat emigreren], maar dat is niet waar.
  Jan has  revealed   that  Els goes emigrate  but  that  is  not true
  'Jan has revealed that Els is going to emigrate, but that isnʼt true.'

The behavior of factive clauses deserves more attention, especially since it has been suggested that they do not function as argument clauses. However, since discussing this here would lead us to far afield and away from the present topic, we will return to this in Section 5.1.2.3.

[+]  III.  Sentence-initial position

The examples in (70) show that object clauses can readily occur in sentence-initial position. In accordance with the general verb-second requirement in Dutch, the preposed clause must be immediately followed by the finite verb. Placement of object clauses in sentence-initial position is impossible if the anticipatory pronoun het'it' is present, as will become clear by comparing the examples in (70) to those in (65).

Example 70
a. [Dat hij beroofd was] zal Jan (*het) Marie morgen vertellen.
  that  he  robbed  was  will  Jan     it  Marie  tomorrow  tell
  'That he was robbed Jan will tell Marie tomorrow.'
b. [Of Jan beroofd is] zal Els (*het) morgen onderzoeken.
  whether  Jan robbed  is  will  Els     it  tomorrow  investigate
  'Whether Jan has been robbed Els will investigate tomorrow.'

The impossibility of het in (70) can be accounted for in at least two ways. One way is to assume that the examples in (70) are in fact not derived by regular topicalization, but in a similar way as the left dislocation constructions in (71); cf. Koster (1978).

Example 71
a. [Dat hij beroofd was], dat zal Jan (*het) Marie morgen vertellen.
  that  he  robbed  was  that  will  Jan     it  Marie  tomorrow  tell
b. [Of Jan beroofd is], dat zal Els (*het) morgen onderzoeken.
  whether  Jan robbed  is  that  will  Els     it  tomorrow  investigate

If we follow this line of thinking, the examples in (70) may involve a phonetically empty pronoun pro with the same function and in the same position as the resumptive demonstrative pronoun dat'that' in (71). On this analysis, the anticipatory pronoun cannot be realized since it is replaced by the pronoun dat/pro, which is moved into sentence-initial position; the structures in (72) show that the use of het is blocked because the clause-internal object position is occupied by the trace of the moved pronoun.

Example 72
a. [dat hij beroofd was]i [sentence dati zal Jan ti Marie morgen vertellen].
b. [dat hij beroofd was]i [sentence proi zal Jan ti Marie morgen vertellen].

The analysis suggested above is contested in Klein (1979), who points out that the examples in (70) and (71) exhibit different intonation patterns: whereas the examples in (71) involve an intonation break between the clause and the pronoun dat, indicated here by means of a comma, the clauses in (70) are not likely to be followed by such an intonation break. If one wants to conclude from this that the examples in (70) must be derived by topicalization of the finite clause, we may account for the impossibility of the pronoun het by assuming that the clause must be moved via the regular object position in the middle field of the clause; under this proposal the pronoun het cannot be realized because the regular object position would be filled by a trace of the moved clause. An analysis like this raises the question as to why finite clauses cannot surface in the regular object position; see the discussion in Subsection II. One option would be to assume that there is a surface condition that prohibits that argument positions are filled by non-nominal categories; see Stowell (1983), Hoekstra (1984a), and Den Dikken and Næss (1993) for proposals to this effect. We will see in Section 5.1.3 that the same issue arises with finite subject clauses.

[+]  IV.  Apparent object clauses

Haeseryn et al. (1997:1155) claim that subject experiencer verbs like betreuren'to regret' and waarderen'to appreciate' may take an object clause introduced by the conditional complementizer als'if'; cf. the primeless examples in (73). As the claim is simply postulated without any motivation, we can only guess why it is proposed; one obvious argument in favor of this claim is that we can replace the als-clauses by noun phrases that clearly function as direct objects; cf. the primed examples in (73).

Example 73
a. Jan zou het betreuren [als zij niet kan komen].
  Jan would  it  regret   if  she  not  can  come
  'Jan would regret it if she couldnʼt come.'
a'. Jan zou haar afwezigheid betreuren.
  Jan would  her non-attendance  regret
  'Jan would regret her absence.'
b. Jan waardeert het zeer [als zij hem wil helpen].
  Jan appreciates  it  a.lot   if  she  him  want  help
  'Jan really appreciates it if sheʼs willing to help him.'
b'. Jan zou haar hulp zeer waarderen.
  Jan would her help  a.lot  appreciate
  'Jan would really appreciate her help a lot.'

There are, however, also arguments that militate against the claim that we are dealing with object clauses in (73a&b). These involve the distribution of the anticipatory pronoun het'it' and the resumptive pronoun dat'that', which are optionally used to refer to (logical) object clauses in, respectively, extraposed and sentence-initial position; see the discussion in Subsections I to III. The examples in this subsection reveal that the clauses in (73a&b) display a different behavior here. The examples in (74) indicate first of all that the anticipatory object pronoun het is obligatory, and not optional, if the verbs betreuren and waarderen are followed by an als-clause.

Example 74
a. Jan betreurde (het) [dat hij niet kon komen].
  Jan regretted   it   that  he  not  could  come
  'Jan regretted it that he couldnʼt come.'
a'. Jan zou *(het) betreuren [als hij niet kon komen].
  Jan would     it  regret   if  he  not  could  come
  'Jan would regret it if he couldnʼt come.'
b. Jan waardeerde (het) [dat Els hem wou helpen].
  Jan appreciated    it   that  Els him  wanted  help
  'Jan appreciated it that Els was willing to help him.'
b'. Jan zou *(het) waarderen [als Els hem wil helpen].
  Jan would     it  appreciate   if  Els him  want  help
  'Jan would appreciate it if Els is willing to help him.'

The examples in (75) provide further support: the anticipatory pronoun het can be replaced by the resumptive pronoun dat in sentence-initial position with left-dislocated dat-clauses. The primed examples, on the other hand, show that resumptive dat is excluded with left-dislocated conditional als-clauses.

Example 75
a. [Dat hij niet kon komen], dat betreurde Jan zeer.
  that  he  not  could  come  that regretted  Jan a.lot
  'That he couldnʼt come, Jan regretted very much.'
a'. * [Als hij niet kan komen], dat zou Jan zeer betreuren.
  if  he  not  can  come  that  would  Jan a.lot  regret
b. [Dat Els hem wou helpen], dat waardeerde Peter zeer.
  that  Els him  wanted  help that  appreciated Peter a.lot
  'That Els was willing to help him, Peter appreciated very much.'
b'. * [Als Els hem wil helpen], dat zou Peter zeer waarderen.
  if  Els him  want  help  that  would  Peter a.lot  appreciate

The primeless examples in (76) further show that resumptive dat is normally not used when the dat-clause is not followed by an intonation break. The primed examples, on the other hand, show that such constructions without dat do not arise with als-clauses either.

Example 76
a. [Dat hij niet kon komen] betreurde Jan zeer.
  that  he  not  could  come  regretted  Jan a.lot
  'That he couldnʼt come, Jan regretted very much.'
a'. * [Als hij niet kan komen] zou Jan zeer betreuren.
  if  he  not  can  come  would  Jan  a.lot  regret
b. [Dat Els hem wou helpen] waardeerde Peter zeer.
  that  Els him  wanted  help appreciated  Peter a.lot
  'That Els was willing to help him, Peter greatly appreciated.'
b'. * [Als Els hem wil helpen] zou Peter zeer waarderen.
  if  Els him  want  help  would  Peter a.lot  appreciate

Adding an object pronoun like dat or het to the primeless examples in (76) would make these examples ungrammatical, which may be due to the fact that the object position is already occupied by a trace; cf, subsection III. Adding an object pronoun to the primeless examples in (76), on the other hand, makes these examples fully acceptable.

Example 77
a. * [Dat hij niet kon komen] betreurde Jan het/dat zeer.
  that  he  not  could  come  regretted  Jan it/that  a.lot
a'. [Als hij niet kan komen] zou Jan het/dat zeer betreuren.
  if  he  not  can  come  would  Jan it/that  a.lot  regret
  'If he couldnʼt come, Jan would regret it/that very much.'
b. * [Dat Els hem wou helpen] waardeerde Peter het/dat zeer.
  that  Els him  wanted  help appreciated  Peter it/that  a.lot
b'. [Als Els hem wil helpen] zou Peter het/dat zeer waarderen.
  if  Els him  want  help  would  Peter it/that  a.lot  appreciate
  'If Els is willing to help him, Peter would greatly appreciate it/that.'

The primed examples in (77) strongly suggest that conditional als-clauses and object pronouns have different syntactic functions. This is also supported by the fact that als-clauses in left-dislocation constructions can be associated with the resumptive adverbial element dan'then', which also surfaces in regular conditional constructions: cf. Als het regent, dan kom ik niet'If it rains, (then) I won't come'. Now note that the object pronoun het/dat must also be expressed when resumptive dan is present.

Example 78
a. [Als hij niet kan komen], dan zou Jan *(het/dat) zeer betreuren.
  if  he  not  can  come  then  would  Jan     it/that  a.lot  regret
  'If he canʼt come, then Jan would regret it/that very much.'
b. [Als Els hem wil helpen], dan zou Peter *(het/dat) zeer waarderen.
  if  Els him  want  help  then  would  Peter   it/that  a.lot  appreciate
  'If Els is willing to help him, then Peter would greatly appreciate it.'

The fact that an object pronoun must co-occur with resumptive dan conclusively shows that object pronouns and conditional als-clauses have different (logical) syntactic functions: object versus adverbial adjunct. Consequently, object pronouns cannot function as anticipatory or resumptive pronouns associated with such als-clauses. It goes without saying that this also shows that the fact that the conditional als-clauses in the primeless examples in (73) can apparently be replaced by the nominal direct objects in the primed examples in (73) is not sufficient ground for concluding that conditional als-clauses are object clauses.
      The conclusion that dat- and als-clauses have different syntactic functions can also be supported by means of the coordination facts in (79). While (79a&b) show that two dat- and two als-clauses can easily be coordinated, (79c) shows that this is impossible for a dat- and an als-clause. The claim that the two clause types have different syntactic functions straightforwardly derives this.

Example 79
a. Jan waardeert het [[dat Marie komt] en [dat Els opbelt]].
  Jan appreciates  it    that  Marie comes  and   that  Els prt.-calls
  'Jan appreciates it that Marie will come and that Els will ring.'
b. Jan waardeert het [[als Marie komt] en [als Els opbelt]].
  Jan appreciates  it    if  Marie comes  and    if  Els prt.-calls
  'Jan appreciates it if Marie will come and if Els will ring.'
c. * Jan waardeert het [[als Marie komt] en [dat Els opbelt]].
  Jan appreciates  it    if  Marie comes  and    that  Els prt.-calls

      For completeness' sake, note that the left-dislocation test can also be applied to other cases in which one might be tempted to analyze a clause, or some other phrase, as a direct object. For example, the phrases introduced by alsof/als in the primeless examples in (80) resemble direct objects in that they cannot be omitted just like that, but the fact that the left-dislocation construction does not allow the resumptive dat but requires the manner adverb zo shows immediately that we are dealing with adverbial phrases.

Example 80
a. Jan gedraagt zich *(alsof hij gek is).
  Jan behaves  refl    as.if  he  crazy  is
  'Jan behaves as if heʼs crazy.'
a'. Alsof hij gek is, zo/*dat gedraagt Jan zich.
b. Jan gedraagt zich #(als een popster)
  Jan behaves  refl    as a pop.star
  'Jan behaves like a pop star.'
b'. Als een popster, zo/*dat gedraagt Jan zich.
References:
  • Barbiers, Sjef2000The right periphery in SOV languages: English and DutchSvenonius, Peter (ed.)The derivation of VO and OVAmsterdam/PhiladelphiaJohn Benjamins45-67
  • Dikken, Marcel den & Næss, Alma1993Case dependencies: the case of predicate inversionThe Linguistic Review10303-336
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Hoekstra, Teun1984Transitivity. Grammatical relations in government-binding theoryDordrecht/CinnaminsonForis Publications
  • Kiparsky, Paul & Kiparsky, Carol1970FactBierwisch, Manfred & Heidolph, Karl Erich (eds.)Progress in linguisticsThe Hague/ParisMouton143-173
  • Klein, Maarten1979Paardekoopers notie <i>aanloop</i> and het bestaansrecht van subjectzinnenGramma387-223
  • Koster, Jan1978Why subject sentences don't existKeyser, S. Jay (ed.)Recent transformational studies in European languages53-64
  • Stowell, Tim1983Subjects across categoriesThe Linguistic Review2285-312
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