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5.2.1.3. The implied subject PRO in om + te-infinitivals
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This section is concerned with the implied PRO-subject in argumental om + te-infinitivals. We will begin in Subsection I with a more general discussion of the motivation to postulate a phonetically empty subject in (a specific subset) of infinitival clauses, subsection II continues by showing that the implied PRO-subject must be assigned a thematic role, just like any other nominal subject, subsection III concludes with a comprehensive discussion of the interpretation of the implied PRO-subject. The main topic in this discussion is the question as to whether subject/object control in examples like (370a&b) should be considered a locally restricted syntactic dependency. Our conclusion will be that this is not the case and that the factors determining the interpretation of the PRO-subject are instead determined by our knowledge of the world; cf. Van Haaften (1991:ch.4).

Example 370
a. Jani beloofde Mariej [(om) PROi/*j dat boek te lezen].
subject control
  Jan  promised  Marie  comp  that book  to read
  'Jan promised Marie to read that book.'
b. Jani verzocht Mariej [(om) PROj/*i dat boek te lezen].
object control
  Jan  asked  Marie   comp  that book  to read
  'Jan asked Marie to read that book.'
c. Jan keurt het af [(om) PROarb te vloeken].
generic interpretation
  Jan disapproves  it  prt.  comp  to curse
  'Jan disapproves of cursing.'
readmore
[+]  I.  Why assume a phonetically empty PRO-subject?

Finite and infinitival object clauses like those in (371) differ in that the former have an overtly expressed subject (here the pronoun hij'he'), whereas the latter have a semantically implied subject. That the subject is semantically implied is clear from the fact that the two examples express the same number of thematic relations; in the two examples the matrix main verb beloven takes three arguments, the subject Jan, the direct object clause and the indirect object Peter, and the main verb lachen in the embedded clause takes one argument, which is expressed by the subject pronoun hij in the finite but remains unexpressed in the infinitival clause. This subsection shows that there are reasons for assuming that the semantically implied subject is actually syntactically present in the form of a phonetically empty noun phrase PRO; see Koster and May (1982), Paardekooper (1985/1986), Van Haaften (1991), and many others for similar arguments.

Example 371
a. Jan beloofde Peter [dat hij/*PRO niet zou lachen].
  Jan promised  Peter   that  he  not  would  laugh
  'Jan promised Peter that he wouldnʼt laugh.'
b. Jan beloofde Peter [(om) PRO/*hij niet te zullen lachen].
  Jan promised  Peter  comp  not  to will  laugh
  'Jan promised Peter not to laugh.'

We begin by showing that the postulated subject PRO in (371b) has specific interpretative properties; it is just like the pronoun hij'he' in (371a) in that it can be interpreted as coreferential with the subject, but not with the object of the matrix clause; we have made the interpretative restriction explicit in (372a) by means of indices. Example (372b) shows that these interpretational restrictions on PRO are not rigid, but depend on the matrix verb used: while the verb beloven'to promise' in (372a) triggers a so-called subject control reading, the verb verzoeken'to request' triggers an object control reading.

Example 372
a. Jani beloofde Peterj [(om) PROi/*j niet te lachen].
subject control
  Jan  promised  Peter comp  not  to laugh
  'Jan promised Peter not to laugh.'
b. Jani verzocht Peterj [(om) PROj/*i niet te lachen].
object control
  Jan  requested  Peter comp  not  to laugh
  'Jan asked Peter not to laugh.'

As such, the interpretational restrictions do not seem to require the postulation of a syntactic element PRO, as we may simply account for these facts by attributing them to the semantics of the two verbs involved, which seems inevitable anyway. The postulation of PRO does help, however, to solve another problem concerning the interpretation of referential and reflexive personal pronouns. First consider the examples in (373) that show that referential pronouns like hem and reflexive pronouns like zichzelf are normally in complementary distribution; whereas the reflexive zichzelf must be bound by (= interpreted as coreferential with) the subject of its own clause, the referential pronoun hem cannot, and while the referential pronoun can (optionally) be bound by some element external to its own clause, the reflexive cannot.

Example 373
a. Jani vermoedt [dat Peterj over zichzelfj/*i praat].
  Jan  suspects   that  Peter  about himself  talks
  'Jan suspects that Peter is talking about himself.'
b. Jani vermoedt [dat Peterj over hemi/*j praat].
  Jan  suspects   that Peter  about him  talks
  'Jan suspects that Peter is talking about him.'

All of this was extensively discussed in Section N5.2.1.5, where it was accounted for by assuming that reflexives must be bound in a specific local anaphoric domain, while referential pronouns must be free (= not bound) in that domain. We repeat the two relevant binding conditions in (374), and refer to N5.2.1.5, sub III, for a more detailed and more careful discussion of the notions of binding and local domain; it suffices for our present purposes to simply state that in examples such as (373) the relevant local domain is the embedded clause.

Example 374
a. Reflexive and reciprocal personal pronouns are bound in their local domain.
b. Referential personal pronouns are free (= not bound) in their local domain.

Now consider the examples in (375). Although the referential and the reflexive personal pronoun are in complementary distribution in these examples, the conditions in (374) seem to be violated: if we assume that the entire sentence is the local domain of the pronouns, the binding of the referential pronoun in example (375b) would violate condition (374b); alternatively, if the infinitival clause is assumed to be the local domain, the binding of the reflexive in example (375a) would violate condition (374a).

Example 375
a. Jani beloofde Peterj (om) over zichzelfi/*hemi te praten.
  Jan  promised  Peter comp  about himself/him  to talk
  'Jan promised Peter to talk about himself.'
b. Jani beloofde Peterj (om) over hemj/*zichzelfj te praten.
  Jan  promised  Peter comp  about him/himself  to talk
  'Jan promised Peter to talk about him.'

Now, also consider the examples in (376). Assuming that the examples in (375) and (376) have the same syntactic structure, they go against the otherwise robust generalization that referential and reflexive pronouns are normally in complementary distribution: The (a)-examples show that, depending on the matrix verb, the reflexive can in principle be bound by the subject or the object of the matrix verb, and the (b)-examples show that the same thing holds for the pronoun.

Example 376
a. Jani verzocht Peterj (om) over zichzelfj/*hemj te praten.
  Jan  requested  Peter comp  about himself/him  to talk
  'Jan requested Peter to talk about himself.'
b. Jani verzocht Peterj (om) over hemi/*zichzelfi te praten.
  Jan  requested  Peter  comp  about him/himself  to talk
  'Jan requested Peter to talk about him.'

The advantage of postulating the implied subject PRO is that it solves the two problems discussed above and enables us to maintain the two conditions in (374) with no further ado. Consider the structures that should be assigned to the examples in (375), given in (377). Since the verb beloven'to promise' triggers subject control, the implied subject PRO must be coindexed with the matrix subject Jan. As a result, the reflexive pronoun zichzelf in (377a) is bound and the referential pronoun hem in (377b) is free in its infinitival clause.

Example 377
a. Jani beloofde Peterj [local domain (om) PROi over zichzelfi/*hemi te praten].
  Jan  promised  Peter comp  about himself/him  to talk
  'Jan promised Peter to talk about himself.'
b. Jani beloofde Peterj [local domain (om) PROi over hemj/*zichzelfj te praten].
  Jan  promised  Peter comp  about him/himself  to talk
  'Jan promised Peter to talk about him.'

If we conclude from this that infinitival clauses are just like finite clauses in that they constitute a local domain for the pronouns they contain, all facts will follow. First, the subject of the matrix clause must be interpreted as coreferential with the reflexive pronoun, whereas the indirect object cannot. If the reflexive pronoun is interpreted as coreferential with the subject of the matrix clause, it will also be correctly bound in its local domain by the implied subject PRO; however, if it is bound by the indirect object of the matrix clause, it would be incorrectly free in its local domain. Second, the referential pronoun can be interpreted as coreferential with the indirect object but not with the subject of the clause: if the pronoun is interpreted by the indirect object, it is still free in its local domain, as required, but if it is coreferential with the subject, it will also be incorrectly bound by the implied subject PRO within its local domain.
      Next, consider the structures in (378) that should be assigned to the examples in (376). Since the verb verzoeken'to request' triggers object control, the implied subject PRO must be coindexed with the indirect object Peter of the matrix clause.

Example 378
a. Jani verzocht Peterj [local domain (om) PROj over zichzelfj/*hemj te praten].
  Jan  requested  Peter  comp  about himself/him  to talk
  'Jan requested Peter to talk about himself.'
b. Jani verzocht Peterj [local domain (om) PROj over hemi/*zichzelfi te praten].
  Jan  requested  Peter  comp  about him/himself  to talk
  'Jan requested Peter to talk about him.'

If we maintain the earlier conclusion that the infinitival clause constitutes a local domain for the pronouns it contains, the facts again follow. First, the indirect object of the matrix clause must be interpreted as coreferential with the reflexive pronoun, whereas the subject cannot. If the reflexive pronoun is interpreted as coreferential with the indirect object, it will also be correctly bound in its local domain by the implied subject PRO; however, if it is bound by the subject, it would be incorrectly free in its local domain. Second, the referential pronoun can be interpreted as coreferential with the subject but not with the indirect object of the matrix clause: if the pronoun is interpreted as coreferential with the subject, it is still free in its local domain, as required, but if it is coreferential with the indirect object, it will also be incorrectly bound by the implied subject PRO within its local domain.
      A similar argument can be based on the behavior of the reciprocal personal pronoun elkaar'each other', which is subject to the same binding condition as reflexive pronouns. In addition, the reciprocal is bound by a plural antecedent: see the contrast between Jan en Marie groetten elkaar'Jan and Marie greeted each other' and *Jan groette elkaar'*Jan greeted each other'. For our present purpose it is also important to note that the plurality requirement cannot be evaded by assuming that the reciprocal takes a "split" antecedent; an example such as (379a) is unacceptable and the intended assertion can only be expressed by the more complex construction in (379b), in which elkaar does have a plural antecedent.

Example 379
a. * Jani stelt Peterj aan elkaari&j voor.
  Jan  introduces  Peter  to each.other  prt.
b. [Jan en Peter]i stellen zichi aan elkaari voor.
  Jan and Peter  introduce  refl  to each.other  prt.
  'Jan and Peter introduce themselves to each other.'

The crucial observation is that the ban on split antecedents seemingly breaks down exactly in those cases in which the implied subject PRO is able to take a split antecedent. The verb voorstellen'to propose' in (380a), for example, does allow an interpretation according to which Jan proposes that Marie and he himself will build a tree house; this reading can be forced by adding the modifier samen'together'. Example (380b) shows that the verb voorstellen ostensibly forces a split-antecedent reading on the reciprocal. However, given that the true antecedent is the implied subject PRO of the infinitival clause, this should not be seen as a violation of the ban on split antecedents for reciprocals.

Example 380
a. Jani stelde Elsj voor [(om) PROi&j (samen) een boomhut te bouwen].
  Jan proposed  Els  prt.  comp  together  a tree.house  to build
  'Jan proposed to Els to build a tree house together.'
b. Jani stelde Elsj voor [(om) PROi&j elkaari&j te helpen].
  Jan proposed  Els  prt.  comp  each.other  to help
  'Jan proposed to Els to help each other.'

      To sum up, this subsection has shown that the postulation of an implicit PRO-subject in infinitival clauses is motivated by the fact that it enables us to maintain in full force a number of robust generalizations concerning binding of referential, reflexive and reciprocal personal pronouns. Without the postulation of PRO the formulation of a descriptive generalization concerning the distribution of these pronouns will become much more complex or even require special stipulations to handle cases of the kind discussed in this section.

[+]  II.  Semantic restrictions on the implied PRO-subject and its controller

The claim in Subsection I that the PRO-subject of the infinitival clause is semantically implied is tantamount to stating that it is assigned a thematic role by the infinitival verb. The examples in (381a-d) show that this thematic role can be agent if the infinitive is an (in)transitive, theme if the infinitive is an unaccusative, and goal if the infinitive is an undative verb. The implied subject PRO can also be the subject (external argument) of a complementive like aardig'kind' in (381e).

Example 381
a. Jani probeert [(om) PROi te slapen].
agent
  Jan  tries  comp  to sleep
  'Jan is trying to sleep.'
b. Jani probeert [(om) PROi Marie te helpen].
agent
  Jan  tries  comp  Marie  to help
  'Jan is trying to help Marie.'
c. Jani probeert [(om) PROi niet te vallen].
theme
  Jan  tries  comp  not  to fall
  'Jan is trying not to fall.'
d. Jani probeert [(om) PROi het boek voor niets te krijgen].
goal
  Jan  tries  comp  the book for free  to get
  'Jan is trying to get the book for free.'
e. Jani probeert [(om) PROi aardig te zijn].
subject of complementive
  Jan  tries  comp  kind  to be
  'Jan is trying to be kind.'

Of course, there are a number of additional conditions that must be satisfied due to the semantic properties of the matrix verb. For example, the verb proberen'to try' implies that the PRO-subject is able to control or at least consciously affect the eventuality expressed by the infinitival argument clause. For this reason, sentences such as (382) are unacceptable or minimally trigger a stage context reading, that is, a context in which the event denoted by the verb is intentional (like falling in a training session) or involves pretense (like dying in a stage play).

Example 382
a. $ Jani probeert [(om) PROi te vallen].
theme
  Jan  tries  comp  to fall
  'Jan is trying to fall.'
b. $ Jani probeert [(om) PROi te sterven].
theme
  Jan  tries  comp  to die
  'Jan is trying to die.'

Furthermore, the controller of PRO should ideally be able to perform the eventuality denoted by the infinitival construction. The subject of the matrix clause in examples such as (383), for example, should not only satisfy the selection restrictions of the matrix verb proberen'to try', but also those of the infinitival verb—it cannot refer to a single individual as this would not satisfy the selection restriction imposed by the infinitival verbs zich verspreiden'to spread' and omsingelen'to surround' that their subjects refer to larger sets of individuals (if headed by a count noun).

Example 383
a. De soldateni proberen [(om) PROi zich te verspreiden].
  the soldiers  try  comp  refl  to spread
  'The soldiers are trying to disperse.'
a'. $ De soldaati probeert [(om) PROi zich te verspreiden].
  the soldier  tries  comp  refl  to spread
b. De soldateni proberen [(om) PROi het gebouw te omsingelen].
  the soldiers  try  comp  the building  to surround
  'The soldiers are trying to surround the building.'
b'. $ De soldaati probeert [(om) PROi het gebouw te omsingelen].
  the soldier  tries  comp  the building  to surround

The fact established earlier that the implied PRO-subject may be assigned the thematic role of theme predicts that om + te-infinitivals can be passivized. Sentences of this form do not seem to be very frequent and are perhaps slightly formal, but an example such as (384b) shows that this prediction is indeed correct.

Example 384
a. Marie werd gekozen tot voorzitter.
  Marie was  elected  as chairman
b. Marie probeerde [(om) PROi gekozen te worden tot voorzitter].
  Marie  tried comp  chosen  to be  as chairman
  'Mary tried to be elected Chair.'

It is important to note that although impersonal passivization is fully acceptable in Dutch, this is never possible with infinitival clauses. The contrast between (385a) and (385b) suggests that infinitival clauses differ from finite clauses in that they cannot be impersonal but must have a PRO-subject. Of course, one might want to explore the possibility that there is a PRO-subject in (385b) with a thematic role similar to that of the expletive er in (385a) and claim that the unacceptability of (385b) is due to the fact that subject control would lead to an incoherent interpretation with Marie functioning as the subject of the impersonal passive. However, this would lead us to expect impersonal passivization of the matrix clause to improve the acceptability of the utterance, and example (385c) shows that this is not borne out. We therefore conclude that om + te-infinitivals must have a PRO-subject and that (385b) is unacceptable because it fails to meet this condition.

Example 385
a. Er werd gelachen in de zaal.
  there  was  laughed  in the hall
  'There was laughter in the hall.'
b. * Mariei probeerde [(om) gelachen te worden].
  Marie  tried  comp  laughed  to be
c. * Er werd geprobeerd [(om) gelachen te worden].
  there  was  tried  comp  laughed  to be
[+]  III.  Control of the implied PRO-subject

The implied PRO-subjects of argumental om + te-infinitivals are normally controlled by the subject or the object of the verbs selecting them, although there are cases in which the PRO-subject takes a split antecedent or receives a generic interpretation. One of the important questions in this subsection is whether these cases should be considered as instances of so-called obligatory and non-obligatory control. This question has received a wide variety of answers in the literature depending on the definition of these notions. Our point of departure will be the operational definition in (386), which will be more extensively discussed in Subsection A on the basis of a number of standard English examples.

Example 386
Obligatory control requires the antecedent of PRO to:
a. be overtly realized in the sentence containing PRO;
b. be local (a co-argument of the infinitival clause containing PRO);
c. be a c-commanding nominal argument (subject or object);
d. be unique (cannot be "split").

Object and subject control are illustrated in example in (387). Such examples are often considered as cases of obligatory control, subsections B and C will investigate these control constructions in more detail and argue that we are dealing with obligatory control in the sense of (386) only in appearance.

Example 387
a. Jani beloofde Elsj [(om) PROi/*j dat boek te lezen].
subject control
  Jan  promised  Els  comp  that book  to read
  'Jan promised Els to read that book.'
b. Jani verzocht Elsj [(om) PROj/*i dat boek te lezen].
object control
  Jan  requested  Els   comp  that book  to read
  'Jan requested Els to read that book.'

According to the definition in (386), the examples in (388) are straightforward cases of non-obligatory control constructions: the PRO-subject in (388a) does not take a unique but a so-called split antecedent, which is constituted by both the subject and the object of the main clause, and in (388b) the antecedent does not have to be overtly realized, in which case PRO receives an arbitrary/generic interpretation. Cases like these will be discussed in Subsection D.

Example 388
a. Jani stelde Elsj voor [(om) PROi+j samen te werken].
split antecedent
  Jan  proposed  Els  prt.  comp  together  to work
  'Jan proposed to Els to collaborate.'
b. Jani keurt het af [(om) PROarb te vloeken].
arbitrary interpretation
  Jan  disapproves  it  prt.  comp  to curse
  'Jan disapproves of cursing.'

Our conclusion that we are not dealing with obligatory (that is, syntactically regulated) control in the examples in (388) raises the question as to what determines the type of control relation in om + te-infinitivals; this question will be the main topic of Subsection E.
      Before we start our discussion, we want to point out that the definition of obligatory control in (386) is not uncontroversial; since the distinction between obligatory and non-obligatory control was introduced in Williams (1980), it has given rise to a great deal of theoretical discussion and individual researchers have drawn the dividing line at different places; Bennis & Hoekstra (1989a), for example, claim that (386a-c) are not decisive for establishing obligatory control (and they in fact claim the same for anaphor binding but their judgments leading to this conclusion are not shared by all speakers; cf. Van Haaften 1991 and Petter 1998).
      We also wish to point out that the extensive lists of control verbs (that is, verbs taking an infinitival complement with a PRO-subject) in the following discussion are based on those found in Van Haaften (1991) and Petter (1998), but adapted to the classification of verbs in Table 1, which was proposed in Section 1.2.2, sub II, and Chapter 2.

Table 1: Classification of verbs according to the type of nominal arguments they take
  name used in this grammar external argument internal argument(s)
no internal
argument
intransitive:
snurken'to snore'
nominative (agent)
  impersonal:
sneeuwen 'to snow'
one internal
argument
transitive:
kopen'to buy'
nominative (agent) accusative (theme)
  unaccusative;
arriveren'to arrive'
nominative (theme)
two internal
arguments
ditransitive:
aanbieden'to offer'
nominative (agent) dative (goal)
accusative (theme)
  nom-dat:
bevallen'to please'
dative (experiencer)
nominative (theme)
  undative:
krijgen'to get'
nominative (goal)
accusative (theme)
[+]  A.  Obligatory versus non-obligatory control

Obligatory control is normally assigned an operational definition; in order to be able to speak of obligatory control, the antecedent of PRO must at least satisfy the four restrictions in (386), repeated here as (389).

Example 389
Obligatory control requires the antecedent of PRO to:
a. be overtly realized in the sentence containing PRO;
b. be local (a co-argument of the infinitival clause containing PRO);
c. be a c-commanding nominal argument (subject or object);
d. be unique (cannot be "split").

These properties of obligatory control will be illustrated by means of the English examples in (390) to (392). The examples in (390) show that the antecedent must be overtly realized in the sentence containing PRO; cf. Bresnan (1982) and Manzini (1983). Example (390a') shows that passivization, and the concomitant demotion of the subject, is impossible in subject control constructions, while example (390b'') indicates that omission of the nominal object is impossible in object control structures. We use the index "?" to indicate that this is due to there being no suitable controller available in the syntactic structure.

Example 390
a. Johni promised Billj [PROi/*j to shave himselfi].
subject control
a'. * Billj was promised [PRO? to shave himself?].
a''. Johni promised [PROi to shave himself].
b. Johni asked Billj [PROj/*i to shave himselfj].
object control
b'. Billj was asked [PROj to shave himself].
b''. * Johni asked [PRO? to shave himself?].

That the antecedent of PRO must be a co-argument of the infinitival clause containing PRO can be illustrated by means of the examples in (391), which show that the unacceptable examples in (390) cannot be saved by embedding them in a larger sentence that does have a potential antecedent of PRO; since the antecedent must be within the clause headed by the subject/object control verbs to promise and to ask, the subjects of the main clauses headed by to think cannot function as such.

Example 391
a. * Johni thinks [that Billj was promised [PROi to shave himselfi]].
b. * Billj thinks [that Johni asked [PROj to shave himselfj]].

That the antecedent of PRO must be a c-commanding nominal argument (subject or indirect object) is clear from the fact that the passive counterpart of (390a') does not improve when we add an agentive by-phrase: *Billj was promised by Johni [PROi to shave himselfi] is unacceptable because the antecedent of PRO is not a nominal argument of the matrix verb but part of the adverbial agentive by-phrase. Finally, the unacceptability of the examples in (392) shows that the antecedent of PRO must be unique in the sense that PRO cannot have a split antecedent.

Example 392
a. * Johni promised Billj [PROi+j to leave together].
b. * Johni asked Billj [PROi+j to leave together].

It is normally assumed that obligatory control requires all four restrictions to be satisfied. The theoretical motivation is that obligatory control is comparable to binding of reflexive pronouns and NP-movement to subject position in passive, unaccusative and raising constructions. All of these exhibit properties of locally restricted syntactic dependencies are characterized by being obligatory (which derives property (389a)), local (which derives property (389b)), involve c-command (which derives property (389c)), and unique (which derives property (389d)); see Koster (1984a/1984b) for a more extensive discussion. Consequently, it is sufficient to show for just one of the restrictions in (389) that it does not hold in order to establish that we are dealing with non-obligatory control.

[+]  B.  Subject Control

By definition, subject control verbs must be minimally dyadic: they must have an infinitival argument clause as well as a subject that functions as the antecedent of the implied PRO-subject. This is consistent with the fact that subject control verbs are normally transitive or ditransitive verbs, or verbs taking a prepositional object clause. In (393), we give a small sample of transitive subject control verbs.

Example 393
Transitive verbs: aandurven'to dare', aankunnen'to be up to', afzweren'to renounce', begeren'to desire', beogen'to aim at', bestaan'to have the nerve', doorzetten'to go ahead with', leren'to learn', durven'to dare', pogen'to try', nalaten'to refrain', ontwennen'to break oneʼs habit', overwegen'to consider', proberen'to try', popelen'to be eager', pretenderen'to pretend', schuwen'to shun', trachten'to try', vermijden'to avoid', verzuimen'to fail', wagen'to dare', weigeren'to refuse', uitproberen'to test', uitstellen'to postpone', verafschuwen'to abhor', verdienen to deserve', verdragen'to endure', verdommen'to flatly refuse', vergeten'to forget', verleren'to lose the hang of', vermijden'to avoid', vertikken'to refuse', verzaken/verzuimen'to neglect oneʼs duty', wagen'to dare', weigeren'to refuse'

In (394), we provide two concrete examples. Note that they may contain the anticipatory pronoun het'it' introducing the infinitival object clause. This pronoun is normally optional but some verbs in (393) require it to be present; this holds especially for particle verbs like aandurven'to dare' and afzweren'to renounce', and some of the verbs prefixed with be- ( bestaan'to have the nerve'), ont- ( ontwennen'to break oneʼs habit'), and ver- ( vertikken'to refuse', verleren'to lose the hang of'). At first sight, the primeless examples in (394) seem to be good candidates for obligatory control constructions: the antecedent of PRO is local, a nominal argument (subject) and unique. However, it turns out that the antecedent is not obligatory: the primed examples show that examples such as (394) can readily be passivized.

Example 394
a. Jani probeert (het) [(om) PROi Marie te bereiken].
  Jan  tries   it  comp  Marie  to reach
  'Jan tries to contact Marie.'
a'. Er werd geprobeerd [(om) PROarb Marie te bereiken].
  there  was  tried  comp  Marie  to reach
b. Jani vergat (het) [(om) PRO Marie in te lichten].
  Jan forgot   it  comp  Marie  prt.  to inform
  'Jan forgot to inform Marie.'
b'. Er is vergeten [(om) PROarb Marie in te lichten].
  there  is forgotten  comp  Marie  prt.  to inform

Passive examples of the kind in (394) are in fact quite frequent on the internet: A Google search (11/15/2012) on the strings [ er werd/is geprobeerd om'it was/has been tried' and [ er werd/is vergeten om'It was/has been forgotten' resulted in more than one million hits for both cases. The other verbs in (393) seem to allow passivization as well when they take an om + te-infinitival as a direct object. If obligatory control indeed requires that all four properties are met, we have to conclude that the primeless examples in (394) are non-obligatory control constructions.
      There are not many ditransitive subject control verbs that may take an om + te-infinitival clause as a direct object. The set given in (395) seems to exhaust the possibilities. Note in passing that this set of subject control verbs can be extended as a result of so-called control shift: we will ignore this issue here but return to it in Subsection E.

Example 395
Ditransitive verbs: aanbieden'to offer', beloven'to promise', toezeggen'to promise'

At first sight, we again seem to be dealing with obligatory control: the antecedent of PRO is local, a nominal argument (subject) and unique. But again it turns out that the antecedent is not obligatory, in the sense that the three verbs in (395) can all be passivized: Our Google search on the strings [ er werd /is * aangeboden om], [ er werd /is * beloofd om] and [ er werd /is * toegezegd om] again resulted in more than one million hits for all cases. The acceptability of passivization, which is illustrated in (396) for aanbieden'to offer' and beloven'to promise', once more shows that we are dealing with non-obligatory control constructions.

Example 396
a. Mariei bood Peterj aan [om PROi/*j hem te helpen met zijn huiswerk].
  Marie  offered  Peter  prt.  comp  him  to help  with his homework
  'Marie offered Peter to help him with his homework.'
a'. Er werd Peterj aangeboden [om PROi/*j hem te helpen met zijn huiswerk].
  there was  Peter  prt.-offered  comp  him  to help  with his homework
b. Jani beloofde Elsj [(om) PROi/*j de computer gebruiksklaar te maken].
  Jan  promised  Els  comp  the computer  ready.for.use  to make
  'Jan promised Els to make the computer ready for use.'
b'. Er werd Elsj beloofd [(om) PROarb de computer gebruiksklaar te maken].
  there was  Els  promised  comp  the computer  ready.for.use to make

For completeness' sake, we want to note that under specific conditions the verbs in (395) are also compatible with object control; we ignore this for the moment but return to it in Subsection E.
      Subject control also occurs with verbs taking a prepositional object. Section 2.3 has shown that such PO-verbs can be intransitive, transitive or unaccusative. A sample of each type is given in (397); like regular ditransitive verbs, ditransitive PO-verbs are not very common as subject control verbs; the only case we have found is dreigen (met)'to threaten' and even this verb is very often (perhaps even normally) used without a nominal object. Note that the infinitival clause can be optionally introduced by an anticipatory pronominal PP; whether this PP is obligatory, optional or preferably left implicit depends on the verb in question and may also vary from person to person; see Section 2.3 for more discussion.

Example 397
a. Intransitive PO-verbs: aarzelen (over)'to hesitate about', afzien van'to give up', berusten (in)'resign oneself to', besluiten (tot)'to decide', denken (over)'to think about', hopen (op)'to hope for', houden (van)'to love', kiezen (voor)'to opt (for)', oppassen (voor)'to beware of', overhellen (tot)'to incline', piekeren (over)'to fret (about)', smachten (naar)'to yearn (for)', streven (naar)'to strive (after)', verlangen (naar)'to long for'
b. Transitive PO-verbs: dreigen (met)'to threaten with'
c. Unaccusative PO-verbs: afknappen (op)'to get fed up with', ontkomen (aan)'to escape from', openstaan (voor)'to be open for', slagen (in)'to succeed in', toekomen (aan)'to get round to', terugdeinzen'to flinch', terugschrikken (voor)'to recoil', wennen (aan)'to get used to'

The examples in (398) show that intransitive PO-verbs that allow passivization also do so when they take an om + te-infinitival as prepositional object; a Google search on the string [ er wordt/is (naar) gestreefd om] results in numerous relevant hits.

Example 398
a. Elsi streeft (ernaar) [(om) PROi volgende week klaar te zijn].
  Els strives  after.it  comp  next week  ready  to be
  'Els aims at being ready next week.'
b. Er wordt (naar) gestreefd [(om) PROarb volgende week klaar te zijn].
  there  is   after  strived  comp  next week  ready  to be

Given that dreigen (met) is the only transitive PO-verb that triggers subject control, it is hard to determine whether such verbs allow passivization, especially since examples such as (399b) are at best marginally acceptable. What we can conclude from this is unclear: since dreigen (met) is normally used without a nominal object, it need not surprise us that it is normally the impersonal variant in (399b') that is used. For want of sufficient evidence, we have to leave the question unresolved as to whether transitive PO-verbs involve obligatory or non-obligatory control.

Example 399
a. Mariei dreigt Janj (ermee) [(om) PROi/*j te vertrekken].
  Marie  threatens  Jan   with.it  comp  to leave
  'Marie is threatening Jan to leave.'
b. ?? Janj wordt (ermee) gedreigd [(om) PROarb te vertrekken].
  Jan  is    with it  threatened comp  to leave
b'. Er wordt (mee) gedreigd [(om) PROarb te vertrekken].
  there  is    with  threatened  comp  to leave

Despite the somewhat unclear status of example (399b), the acceptability of the other passive examples in (394), (396), (398) and (399) unambiguously shows that we are dealing with non-obligatory control constructions. There are of course also a reasonable number of unaccusative subject control verbs, but these do not shed any light on the question as to whether we are dealing with obligatory or non-obligatory control, given that they do not allow passivization anyway. The examples in (400) therefore simply serve to illustrate the use of these verbs.

Example 400
a. Mariei is erin geslaagd [(om) PROi de computer te repareren].
  Marie  is in.it  succeeded  comp  the computer  to repair
  'Marie has managed to repair the computer.'
b. Jani is eraan gewend [(om) PROi veel te reizen].
  Jan  is  to.it  used  comp  a.lot  to travel
  'Jan is used to frequent traveling.'

It should be noted, however, that Section 2.3.2, sub IV, mentioned a number of potentially unaccusative PO-verbs that are special in allowing passivization. Some of these verbs ( aanvangen/beginnen (met)'to start with', ophouden/stoppen (met)'to stop with', overgaan (tot)'to proceed to') can be used as subject control verbs and then retain their ability to undergo passivization. This shows that subject control structures of the kind discussed here do not involve obligatory control.

Example 401
a. De gemeentei is ermee gestopt [(om) PROi papier in te zamelen].
  the municipality  is with.it  stopped  comp  paper  prt.  to collect
  'The municipality has stopped collecting waste paper.'
b. Er wordt mee gestopt [(om) PROarb papier in te zamelen].
  there  is  with  stopped  comp  paper  prt.  to collect
  'Stopping the collection of waste paper is being considered.'

A final set of verbs that seem to trigger subject control are the inherently reflexive verbs in (402). Such verbs do not shed any light on the question as to whether subject control with verbs taking an om + te-infinitival as complement involve obligatory control given that inherently reflexive verbs never undergo passivization.

Example 402
Inherently reflexive verbs; zich aanwennen'to get used to', zich bedwingen'to restrain', zich beijveren (voor)'to apply oneself to', zich generen (voor)'to feel embarrassed', zich richten (op)'to concentrate oneself on', zich toeleggen (op)'to apply oneself to', zich verzetten (tegen)'to resist', zich veroorloven'to permit', zich verwaardigen (tot)'to deign', zich voornemen'to resolve', zich zetten tot'to put oneʼs mind to'

In fact, it is not entirely clear whether we are really dealing with subject control in cases such as this, depending as it does on whether one is willing to assign argument status to the weak reflexive. If so, one might as well assume that the subject control reading is mediated by the reflexive, in which case one might claim that we are dealing with object control in the examples in (403).

Example 403
a. Jani veroorlooft het zichi [(om) PROi tweemaal op vakantie te gaan].
  Jan  allows  it  refl  comp  twice  on holiday  to go
  'Jan allows himself to go on holiday twice.'
b. Jani geneert zichi ervoor [(om) PROi over seks te praten].
  Jan  feels.embarrassed  refl  about.it   comp about sex  to talk
  'Jan feels embarrassed to talk about sex.'

For completeness' sake, we want to note that undative verbs are not used as subject control verbs for the simple reason that verbs like hebben'to have', krijgen'to get' and houden'to keep' do not take infinitival complements.

[+]  C.  Object control

Object control verbs must be at least dyadic by definition: they must have an infinitival argument clause as well as an object that functions as the antecedent of the implied PRO-subject. Table 1 shows that object control verbs with an external argument are normally ditransitive, unless they take an additional prepositional object, in which case they can also be transitive; we give a small sample of such object control verbs in (404).

Example 404
a. Ditransitive verbs: aanbevelen'to recommend', aanleren'to teach', aanraden'to advise', adviseren'to advise', afraden'to advise against', beletten'to prevent', bevelen'to order', gebieden'to order', misgunnen'to envy', ontraden'to advise against', opdragen'to assign', toelaten'to allow', toestaan'to permit', verbieden'to forbid', verhinderen'to prevent', verzoeken/vragen'to request'
b. Transitive PO-verbs: aanmanen/aansporen/aanzetten (tot)'to urge on', activeren (tot)'to activate', belasten (met)'to put in charge of', belemmeren (in)'to impede', dwingen (tot)'to force', helpen (met)'to help with', machtigen (tot)'to authorize', herinneren (aan)'to remind of', ophitsen (tot)'to incite', oproepen (to)'to call upon someone (to)', overhalen (tot)'to persuade', overreden (tot)'to persuade', stimuleren (tot)'to stimulate', stijven (in)'to confirm someone in', uitdagen (tot)'to challenge', uitnodigen (tot)'to invite/ask', verleiden (tot)'to tempt to', verplichten (tot)'to oblige to', waarschuwen (voor)'to alert'

Note in passing that some of the verbs in (404a) are also compatible with subject control; instances are verzoeken/vragen'to request' and overreden'to persuade'. We will postpone discussion of this to Subsection E.
      The examples in (405) provide a concrete case of object control with a ditransitive verb and show that passivization is readily allowed. It is, however, not immediately clear whether this shows that we are dealing with non-obligatory control. One might argue that promotion of the infinitival clause to subject destroys the c-command relation between the indirect object and the PRO-subject; indirect objects do not c-command subjects, but one might also argue that we are dealing with a reconstruction effect, that is, that it is not the surface but the underlying representation that matters. The latter option can, however, be countered (on more or lesss theory-internal grounds) by pointing out that NP-movement in passive, unaccusative and raising constructions is often claimed not to exhibit such effects, so that we would have to introduce special stipulations for these cases of object control.

Example 405
a. Jani raadde Mariej/haarj af [(om) PROj in de rivier te zwemmen].
  Jan  advised  Marie/her  against  comp  in the river  to swim
  'Jan advised Marie/her against swimming in the river.'
b. Er werd Mariej/haarj aangeraden [(om) PROj dat boek te lezen].
  there  was  Marie/her  prt.-advised  comp  that book  to read

A more conclusive reason for assuming that we are not dealing with obligatory control is that the indirect object is often omitted. Our Google search has shown that strings like [ (Subject) raad(t)/raden af om'(Subject) advise(s) against' and its passive counterpart [ Er wordt afgeraden om] are very frequent: the former occurs over one million and the second over 100.000 times. It should be noted, however, that not all verbs allow the omission of the indirect object: this seems to give less felicitous results with the verbs beletten'to prevent', misgunnen'to envy', opdragen'to assign', toelaten'to allow' and verhinderen'to prevent' (where the actual judgments may vary from verb to verb and speaker to speaker).
      The examples in (405) provide a concrete case of object control with a transitive PO-verb and shows that passivization is readily allowed. This does not provide evidence against an obligatory control analysis, but it does show that the notion of object control should be taken with a pinch of salt; it is clearly not the syntactic function of the antecedent that is at stake but its semantic function.

Example 406
a. Mariei roept onsj op [(om) PROj naar het feest te komen].
  Marie  appeals  us  prt.  comp  to the party  to come
  'Marie calls upon us to come to the party.'
b. Wej worden opgeroepen [(om) PROj naar het feest te komen].
  we  are  prt.-appeal  comp  to the party  to come
  'Weʼre called upon to come to the party.'

That we are dealing with non-obligatory control is clear, however, from the fact that the antecedent is often omitted. Our Google search has shown that strings like [ (Subject) roep(t)/roepen op om'(Subject) appeal(s)' and its passive counterpart [ Er wordt opgeroepen om] are very frequent: the former occurs over one million and the second over 100 times. It should be noted, however, that not all verbs allow the omission of the direct object: this seems to give less felicitous results with the verbs activeren (tot)'to activate', belemmeren (in), dwingen (tot)'to force', machtigen (tot)'to authorize', herinneren (aan)'to remind of', overhalen (tot)'to persuade', overreden (tot)'to persuade', overtuigen van'to convince of', stijven *(in ...)'to confirm someone in', uitdagen (tot)'to challenge', uitnodigen (tot)'to invite to', verleiden (tot)'to tempt to', verplichten (tot)'to oblige to' (where the actual judgments may again vary from verb to verb and speaker to speaker).
      Since we have seen that the ditransitive verbs in (404) retain the possibility of passivization if they take an om + te-infinitival as direct object, it is no surprise that there are also dyadic unaccusative (nom-dat) verbs selecting om + te-infinitivals; in both cases the infinitival clause is an internal argument of the verb that is promoted to subject. Section 2.1.3, sub II, has shown that there are two types of nom-dat and both indeed include object control verbs.

Example 407
a. Nom-dat verbs selecting zijn'to be': ( gemakkelijk) afgaan'to come easy to', (e.g., goed) bekomen'to agree with', bevallen'to please', lukken'to succeed', meevallen'to turn out better/less difficult than expected', ontgaan'to escape', ontschieten'to slip oneʼs mind', tegenvallen'to disappoint', ( goed) uitkomen'to work out well'
b. Nom-dat verbs selecting hebben'to have': aanspreken'to appeal', aanstaan'to please', behagen'to please', berouwen'to regret', betamen'to befit', (e.g., goed) liggen'to appeal to', schaden'to do damage to', spijten'to regret', tegenstaan'to pall on', ( niet) zinnen'to (not) please'

Two concrete examples of the object control version of these verb types are given in (408). Of course, passivization cannot be used to demonstrate that we are dealing with non-obligatory control, given that passivization of unaccusative verbs is impossible anyway.

Example 408
a. Het bevalt hemi goed [(om) PROi hier te wonen].
  it  pleases  him  well  comp  here  to live
  'It pleases him to live here.'
b. Het spreekt hemi aan [(om) PROi hier te wonen].
  it  appeals  him  prt.  comp  here  to live
  'It appeals to him to live here.'

However, it should be clear from the fact that the antecedent can often be omitted that we are dealing with non-obligatory control. Our Google search has shown that strings like [ het bevalt goed om'it pleases' and [ het spreekt aan om'it appeals' occur regularly: the former string resulted in about 70 hits and the latter in about 20. It should be noted, however, that in these cases there seems to be a preference to construe PRO as referring to the speaker. Moreover, the omission of the indirect object seems to give less felicitous results with the verbs ( gemakkelijk) afgaan'to come easy to', (e.g., goed) bekomen'to agree with', ontgaan'to escape', ontschieten'to slip oneʼs mind', aanstaan'to please', behagen'to please', berouwen'to regret', betamen'to befit', tegenstaan'to pall on', ( niet) zinnen'to (not) please' (where the actual judgments may again vary from verb to verb and speaker to speaker).
      To conclude, we want to note that the vast majority of causative object experiencer psych-verbs discussed in Section 2.5.1.3, sub II, that is, verbs of the type amuseren'to amuse', bemoedigen'to encourage', boeien'to fascinate', ergeren'to annoy', fascineren'to fascinate', grieven'to hurt', etc. can be used as object experiencer verbs with the om + te-infinitival functioning as a cause. Again, passivization cannot be used to demonstrate that we are dealing with non-obligatory control as passivization of causative object experiencer psych-verbs is impossible anyway (cf. Section 2.5.1.3, sub IID), but it is supported by the fact that the object can be omitted in various cases (with actual judgments again varying from verb to verb and speaker to speaker).

Example 409
a. Het irriteert mei [(om) PROi steeds verhalen te horen over haar hond].
  it  annoys  me  comp  always  stories  to hear about her dog
  'It annoys me to hear stories about her dog all the time.'
a'. Het irriteert [(om) PROarb steeds verhalen te horen over haar hond].
  it  annoys  comp  always  stories  to hear about her dog
b. Het vertedert mei [(om) PROi zoʼn jonge hond te zien spelen].
  it  touches  me  comp  such.a young dog  to see  play
  'I find it endearing to see to see such a puppy play.'
b'. Het vertedert [(om) PROarb zoʼn jonge hond te zien spelen].
  it  touches  comp  such.a young dog  to see  play
[+]  D.  PRO-subjects with split antecedents or arbitrary reference

This subsection discusses a number of cases that are often assumed to involve non-obligatory control. More specifically, we will discuss cases violating the uniqueness requirement on obligatory control in (389d) by allowing PRO to take a split antecedent as well as cases violating the overt antecedent requirement in (389a) by allowing PRO to receive an arbitrary interpretation.

[+]  1.  Verbs that allow PRO to have split antecedents

Example (410) provides a number of verbs that allow split antecedents. The verbs in (410) are of two types.

Example 410
Verbs that allow PRO to have split antecedents
a. Ditransitive verbs: aanbieden'to offer', voorstellen'to propose'
b. Transitive verbs with a comitative met-PP: afspreken (met)'to agree (on)', overeenkomen (met)'to agree'

      The first type of control verbs that allow split antecedents is ditransitive and consists of the verbs aanbieden'to offer' and voorstellen'to propose'. Given that these verbs behave in a similar way in all relevant respects, we will only discuss the verb voorstellen here. Consider the examples in (411), which show that this verb is very lenient when it comes to control: it is compatible with subject control, object control and also allows PRO to take a split antecedent consisting of the subject and the indirect object.

Example 411
a. Elsi stelde Janj voor [(om) PROi hemj te helpen].
  Els  proposed  Jan  prt.  comp  him   to help
  'Els proposed to Jan to help him.'
b. Elsi stelde Janj voor [(om) PROj het samen met haari te doen].
  Els  proposed  Jan  prt.  comp  it  together  with her  to do
  'Els proposed to Jan to do it together with her (=Els).'
c. Elsi stelde Janj voor [(om) PROi+j het samen te doen].
  Els  proposed  Jan  prt.  comp  it  together  to do
  'Els proposed to Jan to do it together.'

Note that we have added a referential personal pronoun with an antecedent in the matrix clause to the infinitival clauses in (411a&b) in order to block the split antecedent reading. In order to see how this works, consider the examples in (412a&b), which show that the personal pronouns hem'him' and haar'her' cannot refer to, respectively, Jan and Els due to the fact that their reference is included in the reference of the subject of the clause. Consequently, the reference of the pronouns cannot be included in the reference of the PRO-subject in (411a&b) either, which makes it impossible for PRO to take the subject and the object of the matrix clause as a split antecedent. The addition of samen'together' to example (411c), on the other hand, strongly favors a split antecedent reading as this element normally requires a plural subject: the use of a singular subject in (412c) is quite marked (when a comitative met-PP is not present).

Example 412
a. Zij, [Elsi en Janj], hielpen hemk/*j.
  they   Els and Jan  helped  him
b. Zij, [Elsi en Janj], deden het samen met haark/*i.
  they  Els and Jan  did  it  together  with her
c. Zij deden/$Hij deed het samen.
  they did/he did  it  together

All examples in (411) can be passivized, especially if the bare indirect object is omitted. This violates condition (389a) on obligatory control, and hence supports the claim that we are dealing with non-obligatory control in these examples. For completeness' sake, we want to note that our Google search on the string [ er werd voorgesteld om] resulted in over 100.000 hits. Unfortunately, it is not possible to specifically search for the three subtypes in (413) so that our search results do not allow us to say anything about their relative frequency.

Example 413
a. Er werd voorgesteld [(om) PROarb hemj te helpen].
  there  was  prt.-proposed  comp  him  to help
  'It was proposed to help him.'
b. Er werd voorgesteld [(om) PROarb het samen met haarj te doen].
  there  was  prt.-proposed  comp  it  together with her  to do
  'It was proposed to do it together with her.'
c. Er werd voorgesteld [(om) PROarb het samen te doen].
  there  was  prt.-proposed  comp  it  together  to do
  'It was proposed to do it together.'

That we are dealing with non-obligatory control in (411) can further be supported for the object control example by the fact that the bare indirect object Jan can be replaced by the prepositional one aan Jan, as shown by (414).

Example 414
a. Elsi stelde aan Janj voor [(om) PROi hemj te helpen].
  Els  proposed  to Jan  prt.  comp  him  to help
  'Els proposed to Jan to help him.'
b. Elsi stelde aan Janj voor [(om) PROj het samen met haarj te doen].
  Els  proposed  to Jan  prt.  comp  it  together with her  to do
  'Els proposed to Jan to do it together with her.'
c. Elsi stelde aan Janj voor [(om) PROi+j het samen te doen].
  Els  proposed  to Jan  prt.  comp  it  together  to do
  'Els proposed to Jan to do it together.'

The reason for assuming that (414b) involves non-obligatory control is that it violates the c-command requirement on obligatory control in (389c). This is due to the fact that the prepositional indirect objects in (414) differ from the bare indirect objects in (411) in that they do not c-command the infinitival direct object clause, but are in fact c-commanded by it. This state of affairs is clear from binding: the examples in (415) show that bare indirect objects can bind (phrases embedded in) direct objects, while direct objects can bind (phrases embedded in) prepositional indirect objects; cf. Daalder & Blom (1976). The (a)-examples illustrate this by means of binding of a reciprocal, and the (b)-examples by means of bound variable licensing. It should be noted, however, that the double object construction in the primeless examples is not very frequent in binding contexts, and that it is normally the variant with a prepositional object in the primed examples that is used in such contexts.

Example 415
a. Jan stelde de meisjesIO elkaarDO voor.
  Jan introduced  the girls  each.other  prt.
  'Jan introduced the girls to each other.'
a'. Jan stelde de meisjesDO aan elkaariO voor.
  Jan introduced  the girls  to each.other  prt.
  'Jan introduced the girls to each other.'
b. Jan stelde iedereenIO zijn begeleiderDO voor.
  Jan introduced  everyone  his supervisor  prt.
  'Jan introduced everyone to his supervisor.'
b'. Jan stelde iedereenDO aan zijn begeleiderIO voor.
  Jan introduced  everyone  to his supervisor  prt.
  'Jan introduced everyone to his supervisor.'

For completeness' sake, it should also be noted that our claim that (415a) involves binding of a direct object by a bare indirect object is not supported by German, given that such examples are unacceptable in this language; see Webelhuth (1989: Section 5.6) and Haider (2010: Section 6.4). With respect to variable binding, on the other hand, German does exhibit the same behavior as Dutch by allowing examples such as (415b); cf. Lee & Santorini (1994). We refer the reader to Den Dikken (1995: Section 4.6) for a discussion of this paradoxical behavior of German.
      The second type of control verbs that allow split antecedents are transitive verbs of communication such as afspreken'to agree' and its more formal counterpart overeenkomen'to agree'. Given that these two verbs behave in a similar way in all relevant respects, we will only discuss the less formal form. The primeless examples in (416) show that afspreken normally triggers subject control by a plural subject, but also allows split antecedents if it is accompanied by a comitative met-PP. The acceptability of (416b) violates the uniqueness requirement on obligatory control in (389d) and thus shows that afspreken does not involve obligatory control.

Example 416
a. [Jan en Marie]i spraken af [(om) PROi vroeg te vertrekken].
  Jan and Marie  agreed  prt.  comp  early  to leave
  'Jan and Marie agreed to leave early.'
b. Jani sprak met Mariej af [(om) PROi+j vroeg te vertrekken].
  Jan  agreed  with Marie  prt.  comp  early  to leave
  'Jan agreed with Marie to leave early.'

That we are dealing with non-obligatory control in (416) is supported by the passive examples in (417), which show that the antecedent of PRO need not be overtly expressed, in violation of condition (389a) on obligatory control.

Example 417
a. Er werd afgesproken [(om) PROarb vroeg te vertrekken].
  there  was  prt.-agreed  comp  early  to leave
  'It was agreed to leave early.'
b. Er werd met Marie afgesproken [(om) PROarb vroeg te vertrekken].
  there  was  with Marie  prt.-agreed  comp  early  to leave
  'It was agreed with Marie to leave early.'

Passivization of constructions such as (416) is very common: a Google search on the colloquial string [ werd (met *) afgesproken om] resulted in numerous hits, and on the more formal string [ er werd (met *) overeengekomen om] in nearly 200 hits. For completeness' sake, observe that the PRO-subject in (417b) may refer to a completely arbitrary set of individuals or to an arbitrary set of individuals that includes Marie.

[+]  2.  Verbs that allow an arbitrary interpretation of PRO

Example (418) provides a sample of intransitive and transitive verbs that may take an om + te-infinitival clause functioning as, respectively, subject and direct object. The PRO-subject of these infinitival clauses allows an arbitrary interpretation, which means that it does not require an overt antecedent, in violation of condition (389a) on obligatory control. Consequently, we are dealing with non-obligatory control verbs.

Example 418
Verbs that allow an arbitrary interpretation of PRO
a. Intransitive (PO-)verbs: ingaan (tegen)'to go against', voor de hand liggen'to stand to reason', indruisen (tegen)'to go against'
b. Transitive verbs: afkeuren'to disapprove', afwijzen'to reject', fiatteren'to authorize', goedkeuren'to approve', uitnodigen (tot)'to invite/entice' veroordelen'to condemn'

A number of concrete examples are given in (419); the (phrasal) verbs in the (a)-examples are intransitive and the verbs in the (b)-examples are transitive. Note that the infinitival argument clauses in these constructions are normally introduced by the anticipatory subject/object pronoun het'it', and that the PRO-subject in the (b)-examples receives an arbitrary interpretation despite the fact that there is a potential controller present syntactically, viz., the subject of the matrix clause.

Example 419
a. Het ligt voor de hand [(om) PROarb het te weigeren].
  it  lies  for the hand  comp  it  to refuse
  'It stands to reason to refuse it.'
a'. Het gaat in tegen het fatsoen [(om) PROarb te vloeken].
  it  goes  prt.  against the propriety  comp  to curse
  'It isnʼt considered proper to swear.'
b. De VN keurt het af [(om) PROarb zomaar een land aan te vallen].
  the UN  disapproves  it  prt.  comp  like.that  a country  prt. to attack
  'Attacking a country without a good cause is disapproved of by the UN.'
b'. De kerk veroordeelt het [(om) PROarb te vloeken].
  the church  condemns  it  comp to curse
  'Swearing is condemned by the church.'

The use of arbitrary PRO is especially pervasive in constructions with the verbs listed in (420), in which om + te-infinitivals function as logical subjects of adjectival complementives.

Example 420
Predicative constructions that allow an arbitrary interpretation of PRO:
a. Copular verbs; zijn'to be', worden'to become' and blijven 'to remain
b. Modal verbs: lijken'to appear', schijnen'to seem' and blijken 'to turn out
c. The verbs vinden'to consider' and achten'to consider'

It is important to note, however, that the control properties of the complementive constructions are not determined by the verbs in (420) but by the predicatively used adjectives; Section A6.5, sub III, argues that we can distinguish the three subtypes in (421).

Example 421
a. Obligatorycontroladjectives optionally select a van- or voor-PP with a +animate complement; PRO is controlled by the nominal complement of the PP. Examples: aardig'nice', dom'stupid', flauw'silly', gemakkelijk'easy', moeilijk'difficult', slim'smart', etc.
b. Optionalcontroladjectives optionally select a voor-PP with a +animate or a -animate complement; PRO may be controlled by the nominal complement of the PP, but may also receive an arbitrary interpretation. Examples: belangrijk'important', goed'good', gevaarlijk'dangerous', leuk'nice', schadelijk'harmful'. etc.
c. Arbitrary control adjectives do not select a PP; PRO receives an arbitrary interpretation.Examples: afkeurenswaardig'condemnable', gebruikelijk'common', onnodig'not needed', etc.

We will not discuss the adjectives in (421) in detail here since this is done in Section A6.5, sub III, but do want to stress that, despite their name, the adjectives in (421a) do not involve obligatory control in the technical sense defined in (389). The simple fact that the PP-complements in the primeless examples in (422) are optional already seems to militate against this as it would result in a violation of the overt antecedent requirement on obligatory control in (389a). Omission of the PP-complement may lead to a generic interpretation, as is clear from the fact that the PRO-subject can function in such cases as the antecedent of a generic pronoun like jezelf'oneself': Het is verstandig om PROarb jezelfarb goed te verzorgen'It is wise to take good care of oneself'.

Example 422
a. Het is verstandig van Peteri [(om) PROi zijn fiets te smeren].
  it  is wise of Peter  comp  his bike  to grease
  'It is wise of Peter to grease his bike.'
a'. Het is verstandig [(om) PROarb je fiets te smeren].
  it  is wise comp  je bike  to grease
  'It is wise to grease oneʼs bike.'
b. Het is gemakkelijk voor Peteri [(om) PROi die som te maken].
  it  is easy  for Peter  comp  that calculation  to make
  'It is easy for Peter to make that calculation.'
b'. Het is gemakkelijk [(om) PROarb die som te maken].
  it  is easy  comp  that calculation  to make
  'It is easy to make that calculation.'

What should make us even more suspicious than the optionality of the PPs is that it is highly doubtful that the PRO-subjects in the primeless examples are c-commanded by their antecedents, given that the infinitival clauses function as logical subjects of the predicative adjectives, whereas the PPs containing the antecedents seem to function as complements of these adjectives; under all standard definitions of c-command it is the subject that c-commands the PP-complement, and not vice versa—it is always the higher phrase that c-commands the more deeply embedded one: [SC subject [A voor/van-PP]]. This would lead to the conclusion that the primeless examples involve accidental coreference between the noun phrase Peter and PRO and not obligatory control. In principle, this might be checked by replacing Peter by the universally quantified element iedereen'everyone'; if the interpretation of PRO is dependent on iedereen, we are dealing with the so-called bound-variable reading, which can result from accidental coreference. Unfortunately, the judgments on the examples seem to vary among speakers; whereas some speakers seem to consider the bound variable reading marked, other speakers seem to accept it. In order to help the Dutch speakers to test whether they allow the bound variable reading, we used the possessive pronoun zijn'his' in (423a); the bound variable reading should be compatible with a reading in which all persons involved are associated with a different bicycle, the one they own.

Example 423
a. % Het is verstandig van iedereeni [(om) PROi zijn fiets te smeren].
  it  is wise of everyone  comp  his bike  to grease
  'Everyone would be well-advised to grease his bike.'
b. % Het is gemakkelijk voor iedereeni [(om) PROi die som te maken].
  it  is easy  for everyone  comp  that calculation  to make
  'It is easy for everyone to make that calculation.'

A further complication is that voor-PPs are often used as restrictive adverbial phrases; this reading can be favored by placing the PP in front of the predicative adjective, as in (424b), and in which case the variable binding reading seems acceptable for all speakers.

Example 424
a. % Het is van iedereeni verstandig [(om) PROi zijn fiets te smeren].
  it  is of everyone  wise  comp  his bike  to grease
  'Everyone would be well-advised to grease his bike.'
b. Het is voor iedereeni gemakkelijk [(om) PROi die som te maken].
  it  is for everyone  easy  comp  that calculation  to make
  'It is easy for everyone to make that calculation.'

Given the complexity of the data, the variability in judgments on the availability of the bound variable reading in examples such as (423), and the interfering factor that the voor-PP can potentially be interpreted as a restrictive adverbial phrase, it is not easy to draw any firm conclusions from the c-command restriction on obligatory control.
      Things are different when we get to the locality restriction. Example (425a) shows that the controller may be non-local; the subject of the main clause can (but need not) function as the antecedent of the PRO-subject of the more deeply embedded infinitival clause. Note, however, that control by the nominal part of the PP-complement takes precedence; if a van/voor-complement is present, as in (425b), the non-local control relation will be blocked. The only thing that the adjectives in (421a) seem to have in common with genuine cases of obligatory control is that they normally do not tolerate split antecedents: examples such as (425c) are quite marked (although some of our informants seem to marginally accept examples like these).

Example 425
a. Wiji denken dat het slim is [(om) PROi elkaari te helpen].
  we  think  that  it  smart  is  comp  each.other  to help
  'We think that it is smart to help each other.'
b. Wiji denken dat het slim van zej is [(om) PROj/*i elkaarj te helpen].
  we  think  that  it  smart  of them  is comp  each.other  to help
  'We think that it is smart of them to help each other.'
c. ?? Jani vindt het slim van Mariej [(om) PROi+j elkaari+j te helpen].
  Jan  considers  it  smart  of Marie  comp  each.other  to help
  'Jan considers it smart of Marie to help each other.'

That the adjectives in (421b) do not involve obligatory control is not only clear from the optionality of the PP-complement of the adjective but also from the fact that in some cases the complement of the PP need not be construed as coreferential with the PRO-subject. An example such as Het is belangrijk voor Jan om daar op tijd te zijn'It is important for Jan to be there in time' is ambiguous between the two readings given in (426): the PRO-subject can be construed as coreferential with Jan but (given the right contextual situation) also receive an arbitrary interpretation.

Example 426
a. Het is belangrijk voor Jani [(om) PROi daar op tijd te zijn].
  it  is important  for Jan  comp  there  in time  to be
  'It is important for Jan that he (=Jan) will be there in time.'
b. Het is belangrijk voor Jani [(om) PROarb daar op tijd te zijn].
  it  is important  for Jan  comp  there  in time  to be
  'It is important for Jan that some contextually determined person(s), e.g., the speaker and addressee, will be there in time.'

The fact that an arbitrary interpretation is possible is even clearer if the nominal complement of the PP is non-animate; this is illustrated in (427a), in which the inherently reflexive verb zich wassen'to wash (oneself)' takes an animate subject. Example (427b) shows that in such cases it is even possible for PRO to have a non-local antecedent; the reflexive zich is only possible if the PRO-subject is construed non-arbitrarily; cf. example (427a), in which the use of PROarb forces the reflexive to appear in its generic form je'one'. We also refer the reader to Lebeaux (1984) and Petter (1998:40-1).

Example 427
a. Het is schadelijk voor het milieu [(om) PROarb jei met zeep te wassen].
  it is harmful to the environment  comp  refl  with soap  to wash
  'It is harmful to the environment to wash oneself with soap.'
b. Jani denkt dat het schadelijk is voor het milieu [(om) PROi zichi met zeep te wassen].
  Jan  thinks  that  it  harmful  is to the environment  comp  refl  with soap  to wash
  'Jan believes it is harmful to the environment to wash himself with soap.'

That the adjectives in (421c) are not instances of obligatory control is clear from the fact that they do not normally take a PP with a complement that could function as the antecedent of the PRO-subject; addition of a van- or a voor-PP to examples such as (428) normally gives rise to a marked or degraded result, as is clear from the fact that we found fewer than 10 relevant cases of the sequence [ afkeurenswaardig van] on the internet, which are mostly suspect (they come from historical/formal sources or from potentially non-native speakers) and never involve control.

Example 428
a. Het is afkeurenswaardig [om PROarb daar te laat te komen].
  it  is condemnable comp  there  too late  to come
  'It is condemnable to get there late.'
b. *? Het is afkeurenswaardig van Jani [om PROi daar te laat te komen].
  it  is condemnable of Jan  comp  there  too late  to come
[+]  E.  Syntactic or semantic control, or perhaps pragmatics?

The previous subsections have proved that there is actually no reason for claiming that PRO-subjects of argumental om + te-infinitivals involve obligatory control in the sense defined in (389), repeated here as (429).

Example 429
Obligatory control requires the antecedent of PRO to:
a. be overtly realized in the sentence containing PRO;
b. be local (a co-argument of the infinitival clause containing PRO);
c. be a c-commanding nominal argument (subject or object);
d. be unique (cannot be "split").

This does not imply that the interpretation of PRO-subjects is entirely free but only that it is not subject to syntactic restrictions, because there is good reason for assuming that the meaning of the matrix verb imposes restrictions to the interpretation of the PRO-subject. The ditransitive verb beloven'to promise' in (430a), for example, can conveniently be characterized as a verb that requires control by its agent, which also accounts for the fact that the controller of PRO must be the nominal complement in the optional agentive door-PP (and not the c-commanding indirect object pronoun ons) in the corresponding passive construction in (430a'). In fact, we can show the same thing by means of the nominal constructions in the (b)-examples: the controller of the PRO-subject must be bound to the agent of the nominalization belofte'promise', regardless of whether it does or does not c-command PRO: this is clear from the fact that it can not only be expressed by means of a c-commanding prenominal possessor but also by means of a postnominal van-PP. The doubly-primed examples are added to show that the agent can also be left implicit in both the verbal and the nominal construction, in violation of the condition on obligatory control in (429a).

Example 430
a. Mariei beloofde onsj [(om) PROi de auto te repareren].
  Marie  promised  us  comp  the car  to repair
  'Marie promised us to repair the car.'
a'. Er werd onsj door Mariei beloofd [(om) PROi de auto te repareren].
  there  was  us  by Marie  promised  comp  the car  to repair
a''. Er werd onsj beloofd [(om) PROarb de auto te repareren].
  there  was  us  promised  comp  the car  to repair
b. [Mariesi belofte aan onsj [(om) PROi de auto te repareren]]
  Marieʼs  promise  to us  comp  the car  to repair
  'Marieʼs promise to us to repair the car'
b'. de belofte van Mariei aan onsj [(om) PROi de auto te repareren]
  the promise  of Marie  to us  comp  the car  to repair
b''. de belofte aan onsj [(om) PROarb de auto te repareren]
  the promise  to us  comp  the car  to repair

The primeless examples in (431) show that bare indirect objects in object control constructions must be realized as prepositional indirect objects in the corresponding nominalizations. Since the controller hem'him' is part of the prepositional indirect object, it does not c-command the PRO-subject of the infinitival direct object clause in (431b); again this shows that the c-command restriction in (429c) can be violated in the case of om + te-infinitivals. The primed examples are added to show that the indirect object can also be omitted in the verbal as well as the nominal construction, in violation of the condition on obligatory control in (429a).

Example 431
a. Wiji adviseren hemj [(om) PROj veel fruit te eten].
  we  advise  him  comp  much fruit  to eat
  'We advise him to eat a lot of fruit.'
a'. Wiji adviseren [(om) PROarb veel fruit te eten].
  we  advise  comp  much fruit  to eat
  'We advise to eat a lot of fruit.'
b. [onsi advies aan hemj [(om) PROj veel fruit te eten]]
  our  advice  to him  comp  much fruit  to eat
  'our advice to him to eat a lot of fruit'
b'. [onsi advies [(om) PROarb veel fruit te eten]]
  our  advice  comp  much fruit  to eat
  'our advice to eat a lot of fruit'

That indirect object control is not sensitive to the syntactic realization of the controller can also be illustrated by means of verbal constructions such as (432a), which are acceptable regardless of whether the goal argument is realized as a bare or as a prepositional indirect object. It should be noted, however, that for some reason the goal argument is nevertheless preferably realized as a nominal object in object control structures: verbs like vragen, which allow the dative shift alternation in contexts such as (432a), are rare; and cases such as (432b), which require the goal argument to be realized as a bare noun phrase, are clearly more common than cases like (432c&d), which require the goal argument to be realized as a PP.

Example 432
a. Jan vroeg (aan) Peteri [(om) PROi de boodschappen te doen].
  Jan asked  to Peter  comp  the shopping  to do
  'Jan asked (of) Peter to go shopping.'
b. Jan beval (*aan) Peteri [(om) PROi de boodschappen te doen].
  Jan ordered     to  Peter  comp  the shopping  to do
  'Jan ordered Peter to do the shopping.'
c. Jan liet het *(aan) Peteri over [(om) PROi de boodschappen te doen].
  Jan left it     to  Peter  prt.  comp  the shopping  to do
  'Jan left it to Peter to do the shopping.'
d. Jan dringt er (bij de directeuri) op aan [(om) PROi snel te handelen].
  Jan urges  there  with the director  on  prt. comp  fast  to act
  'Jan urges the director to act fast.'

That it is not the syntactic function of the controller but its semantic role that is at stake is also clear from the fact illustrated in (433) that passivization transfers transitive PO-verbs like overhalen'to persuade' from the set of object control verbs to the set of subject control verbs; this follows immediately from the assumption that these verbs require control by a theme argument, not by an object.

Example 433
a. Mariei haalde Elsj ertoe over [(om) PROj te zingen].
  Marie  persuaded  Els to-it  prt.  comp  to sing
  'Marie persuaded Els to sing.'
b. Elsj werd er door Mariei toe overgehaald [(om) PROj te zingen].
  Els  was  there  by Marie  prt. prt.-persuaded  comp  to sing
  'Els was persuaded by Marie to sing.'

      The discussion above suggests that the well-established notions of subject and object control are actually misnomers for cases involving om + te-infinitivals, and that it would be better to rephrase these notions in terms of thematic roles like agent, goal and theme; cf. Van Haaften (1991:ch.5). The examples in (434) in fact suggest that even this may still be an oversimplification of the actual state of affairs. The previous subsections followed the general practice of treating verbs like beloven'to promise' and verzoeken'to request' as, respectively, subject and object control verbs. The contrast between the primeless and primed examples shows, however, that the semantic contents of the embedded clause (induced here by the absence/presence of the deontic modal mogen'to be allowed') can change the control properties, a phenomenon that has become known as control shift.

Example 434
a. Jani beloofde Peterj [(om) PROi/*j te komen].
subject control
  Jan  promised  Peter  comp to come
  'Jan promised Peter to come.'
a'. Jani beloofde Peterj [(om) PROj/*i te mogen komen].
object control
  Jan  promised  Peter  comp  to be.allowed.to  come
  'Jan promised Peter to be allowed to come.'
b. Jani verzocht Peterj [(om) PROj/*i te komen].
object control
  Jan  requested  Peter  comp  to come
  'Jan asked Peter to come.'
b'. Jani verzocht Peterj [(om) PROi/*j te mogen komen].
subject control
  Jan  requested  Peter  comp  to be.allowed.to  come
  'Jan asked Peter to be allowed to come.'

The possibility of control shift shows that the matrix verbs beloven'to promise' and verzoeken'to request' have no inherent preference for subject or object control, but that the meaning of the constructions as a whole in tandem with our knowledge of the world determines which options are possible. The illocutionary act of beloven'to promise' normally consists in committing oneself to perform some action, whereas the illocutionary act of verzoeken'to request' aims at obtaining such a commitment from someone else. The infinitival clauses in the primeless examples in (434) simply refer to the promised/requested action, and our knowledge of the world therefore leads to the coindexing indicated. The infinitival clauses in the primed examples, on the other hand, do not refer to the promised/requested action; this action is left implicit and involves the granting of permission to come; cf. Van Haaften (1991:233-6). Given that granting permission is normally a non-reflexive action, this entails the counter-indexing indicated in the primed examples. If this line of reasoning is on the right track, we may conclude that control of the PRO-subject of argumental om + te-infinitivals is not a matter of syntax or semantics, but of pragmatics. This would immediately account for the pervasive violations of the four restrictions in (389), that is, the restrictions that define syntactic dependencies: obligatoriness, locality, c-command, and uniqueness.

References:
  • Bennis, Hans & Hoekstra, Teun1989PRO and the Binding TheoryBennis, Hans & Kemenade, Ans van (eds.)Linguistics in the Netherlands 1989Dordrecht11-20
  • Bresnan, Joan1982Control and complementationLinguistic Inquiry13343-434
  • Daalder, Saskia & Blom, Aleid1976De strukturele positie van reflexieve en reciproke pronominaSpektator5397-414
  • Dikken, Marcel den1995Particles: on the syntax of verb-particle, triadic, and causative constructionsOxford studies in comparative syntaxNew York/OxfordOxford University Press
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haaften, Ton van1991De interpretatie van verzwegen subjectenFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Haider, Hubert2010The syntax of GermanCambridgeCambridge University Press
  • Koster, Jan1984Infinitival complements in DutchGeest, Wim de & Putseys, Yvan (eds.)Sentential complementationForis Publications141-150
  • Koster, Jan1984Anaphoric and non-anaphoric controlLinguistic Inquiry15417-459
  • Koster, Jan & May, Robert1982On the constituency of infinitivesLanguage58116-143
  • Lebeaux, David1984Anaphoric binding and the definition of PROPreceedings of NELS14253-274
  • Lee, Young-Suk & Santorini, Beatrice1994Towards resolving Webelhuth's paradox: evidence from German and KoreanCorver, Norbert & Riemsdijk, Henk van (eds.)Studies on Scrambling: movement and non-movement approaches to free word-order phenomenaBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter257-300
  • Manzini, Maria Rita1983On control and control theoryLinguistic Inquiry14421-446
  • Paardekooper, P.C1985Indeling van de <i>om</i>-zinnen en indelingen met behulp daarvanGLOT8127-128
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  • Petter, Marga1998Getting PRO under control. A syntactic analysis of the nature and distribution of unexpressed subjects in non-finite and verbless clausesAmsterdamFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Petter, Marga1998Getting PRO under control. A syntactic analysis of the nature and distribution of unexpressed subjects in non-finite and verbless clausesAmsterdamFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Petter, Marga1998Getting PRO under control. A syntactic analysis of the nature and distribution of unexpressed subjects in non-finite and verbless clausesAmsterdamFree University AmsterdamThesis
  • Webelhuth, Gert1989Syntactic saturation phenomena and the modern Germanic languagesUniversity of MassachusettsThesis
  • Williams, Edwin1980PredicationLinguistic Inquiry11203-238
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