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5.2.3.1. The verb leren'to teach/learn'
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Bare infinitives can be used as heads of both bare infinitival clauses and bare-inf nominalizations. Consequently, it is normally not possible to tell immediately whether constructions in which a main verb is combined with a bare infinitival involve nominal or clausal complementation. This is illustrated in the examples in (601) with the verb leren'to learn/teach'; since the primeless examples show that this verb may take a nominal complement, scheikunde'chemistry', it is an open question as to whether the bare infinitive zwemmen'swim' in the primed examples is nominal or verbal in nature; we indicated this by marking the infinitive with a question mark. In what follows, we will argue that the primed examples in (601) are in fact ambiguous, as is also suggested by the translations, and in doing so we will develop a number of tests that can be used to distinguish the two readings.

Example 601
a. Jan leert scheikunde.
  Jan learns  chemistry
  'Jan is learning chemistry.'
a'. Jan leert zwemmen?.
  Jan learns  swim
  'Jan is learning swimming/to swim.'
b. Els leert Jan scheikunde.
  Els teaches  Jan chemistry
  'Els is teaching Jan chemistry.'
b'. Els leert Jan zwemmen?.
  Els teaches  Jan swim
  'Els is teaching Jan swimming/to swim.'
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[+]  I.  The bare infinitive is (not) part of the verb sequence

If the primed examples in (601) are really ambiguous between a nominal and a verbal reading of the bare infinitive zwemmen, we expect this to come out in the word order of the clause. Since constructions with bare infinitival complement clauses exhibit monoclausal behavior, we expect verb clustering: the verb leren may precede the bare infinitive in embedded clauses and separate it from its dependents (arguments and modifiers). The fact that the verb leren can indeed split the strings goed zwemmen'swim well' and computers repareren'repair computers' in (602) thus shows that we are dealing with clausal infinitival complements in these examples, which is indicated by marking the bare infinitive with the label "V".

Example 602
a. dat Jan goed leert zwemmenV.
  that  Jan well  learns  swim
  'that Jan is learning to swim well.'
a'. dat Marie Jan goed leert zwemmenV.
  that  Marie Jan well  teaches  swim
  'that Marie is teaching Jan to swim well.'
b. dat Jan computers leert reparerenV.
  that  Jan computers  learns  repair
  'that Jan is learning to repair computers.'
b'. dat Els Jan computers leert reparerenV.
  that  Els Jan computers  teaches  repair
  'that Els is teaching Jan to repair computers.'
[+]  II.  The bare infinitive follows/precedes the governing verb

The verbal status of the bare infinitives in the examples from the previous subsection also appears from the word order of the clause-final verbal sequence. Because noun phrases cannot follow the verbs in clause-final position, the fact that the bare infinitive follows the clause-final finite verb leren in (602) is already sufficient for concluding that we are not dealing with bare-inf nominalizations but with bare infinitival complement clauses. This word order generalization is especially useful when the verb has no dependent, as in the cases in (603); the bare infinitives following the clause-final finite verb leren must be verbal.

Example 603
a. dat Jan <zwemmen?> leert <zwemmenV>.
  that  Jan     swim  learns
b. dat Marie Jan <zwemmen?> leert <zwemmenV>.
  that  Marie Jan    swim  teaches

Since bare-inf nominalizations must precede their governing verb in clause-final position, it seems reasonable to assume that the bare infinitives preceding leren are nominal. Nevertheless, we marked them with a question mark because although clause-final verb clusters of the form Vfinite - Vinfinitive normally surface with the finite verb preceding the infinitive, most speakers also allow the inverse order under certain conditions (we will discuss an unambiguous case of this in Section 7.3, sub IC).
      Although in the case of clause-final verb clusters consisting of no more than two verbs precedence of the bare infinitive is only a necessary and not a sufficient condition for concluding that we are dealing with bare-inf nominalization, the word order of clause-final verbal sequences can still be used as a diagnostic with verb clusters consisting of more than two verbs, because in such cases most speakers of Standard Dutch do require verbal bare infinitives to follow their governing verb. The fact that the bare infinitive zwemmen may precede the verb leren in examples such as (604) thus shows that bare infinitivals can indeed be bare-inf nominalizations in the complement of leren, as is indicated by the index N on the preverbal occurrence of zwemmen.

Example 604
a. dat Jan <zwemmenN> wil leren <zwemmenV>.
  that  Jan     swim  wants  learn
b. dat Marie Jan <zwemmenN> wil leren <zwemmenV>.
  that  Marie Jan     swim  wants  teach
[+]  III.  The bare infinitive triggers/does not trigger the IPP-effect

The structural ambiguity of the bare infinitives in the primed examples of (601) is also clear from the contrast with respect to the IPP-effect in the perfect-tense examples in (605): if leren takes a bare infinitival clausal complement, we expect the IPP-effect to arise, but not if it takes a bare-inf nominalization. The primeless examples show that when the bare infinitive zwemmen follows leren, IPP does indeed arise, and we can therefore conclude that the infinitive is verbal in this case. The primed examples, on the other hand, show that when the bare infinitive zwemmen precedes leren, IPP cannot arise, and we therefore conclude that it is nominal in this case.

Example 605
a. dat Jan heeft willen leren/*geleerd zwemmenV.
  that  Jan has  want  learn/learned  swim
  'that Jan has wanted to learn to swim.'
a'. dat Jan zwemmenN heeft geleerd/*leren.
  that  Jan swim  has  learned/learn
  'that Jan has learned swimming.'
b. dat Marie Jan heeft leren/*geleerd zwemmenV.
  that  Marie Jan has  teach/taught  swim
  'that Marie has taught Jan to swim.'
b'. dat Marie Jan zwemmenN geleerd/*leren heeft.
  that  Marie Jan swim  taught/teach  has
  'that Marie has taught Jan swimming.'

In the examples in (605) the difference with respect to the IPP-effect was illustrated by means of the intransitive verb zwemmen'to swim'. The same difference occurs, however, with transitive verbs with a bare nominal object like auto rijden'to drive (a car)'. The (a)-example in (606) shows that the infinitive may either precede or follow its governing verb, while the (b)-examples bear out that this affects the occurrence of IPP.

Example 606
a. dat Jan auto <rijdenN> wil leren <rijdenV>.
  that  Jan car    drive want  learn
  'that Jan wants to learn driving/to drive a car.'
b. dat Jan auto heeft leren/*geleerd rijdenV.
  that  Jan car  has  learn/learned  drive
  'that Jan has learned to drive a car.'
b'. dat Jan auto rijdenN heeft geleerd/*leren.
  that  Jan car  drive  has  learned/learn
  'that Jan has learned driving.'

Examples such as (606b') are especially felicitous with bare-inf nominalizations if the object-noun combinations are fixed collocations referring to some conventional activity: aardappels schillen'to peel potatoes', paard rijden'to ride on horseback', piano spelen'to play the piano', etc. Less conventional combinations like computers repareren'to repair computers' in (607) seem acceptable in bare-inf nominalizations, although some speakers may find them somewhat marked.

Example 607
a. dat Jan computers < ?reparerenN> wil leren <reparerenV>.
  that  Jan computers      repair  want  learn
  'that Jan wants to learn repairing/to repair computers.'
b. dat Jan computers heeft leren/*geleerd reparerenV.
  that  Jan computers  has  learn/learned  repair
  'that Jan has learned to repair computers.'
b'. dat Jan computers reparerenN heeft ?geleerd/*leren.
  that  Jan computers repair  has    learned/learn
  'that Jan has learned repairing computers.'
[+]  IV.  The bare infinitive allows/does not allow focus movement

That infinitives preceding a clause-final verbal sequence of two (or more) verbs are nominal is also clear from the fact that they do not have to be adjacent to the clause-final verbal sequence; the examples in (608) show that like other nominal objects they may scramble to a more leftward position. Observe that examples like these require the infinitive to be assigned contrastive accent, and that even then the (b)-example may be considered somewhat marked by some speakers.

Example 608
a. dat Jan zwemmen waarschijnlijk wel nooit zal leren.
  that  Jan swim  probably  prt  never  will  learn
  'that Jan will probably never learn swimming.'
b. (?) dat Marie Jan zwemmen waarschijnlijk wel nooit zal leren.
  that  Marie  Jan swim  probably  prt  never  will  teach
  'that Marie will probably never teach Jan swimming.'

Example (609a) shows the same thing by means of verbs with a bare nominal object like auto rijden'to drive'. The (b)-examples are added to show that the nominal complement of the bare infinitive can be scrambled on its own by focus movement if the infinitive heads a bare infinitival clause, but that this is impossible if it heads a noun phrase. This is consistent with the fact that the nominal complements are never extracted from bare-inf nominalizations.

Example 609
a. dat Jan auto rijdenN waarschijnlijk wel nooit zal leren.
  that  Jan car  drive  probably  prt  never  will  learn
  'that Jan will probably never learn driving.'
b. dat Jan auto waarschijnlijk wel nooit zal leren rijdenV.
  that  Jan car  probably  prt  never  will  learn  drive
  'that Jan will probably never learn to drive.'
b'. * dat Jan auto waarschijnlijk wel nooit rijdenN zal leren.
  that  Jan car  probably  prt  never  drive  will  learn
  'that Jan will probably never learn driving.'

That less conventional combinations like computers repareren'to repair computers' are acceptable but marked in bare-inf nominalizations is also clear from the fact that focus movement in ?dat Jan computers repareren waarschijnlijk wel nooit zal leren'that Jan will probably never learn to repair computers' may be considered degraded by some speakers.

[+]  V.  The bare infinitive can follow sentence negation/be preceded by geen'no'

A final argument for assuming that bare infinitives preceding clause-final verbal sequences of two or more verbs are nominal is that they cannot follow sentential negation expressed by the negative adverb niet'not'; as in the case of other indefinite noun phrases, negation must be expressed by means of the negative article geen'no'. The contrast between the primeless and primed examples in (610) thus confirms that infinitives preceding a clause-final verbal sequence of two (or more) verbs are nominal in nature.

Example 610
a. dat zijn dochter door geldgebrek niet kan leren zwemmenV.
  that  his daughter  by lack.of.money  not  can  learn  swim
  'that his daughter canʼt learn to swim because of lack of money.'
a'. dat zijn dochter door geldgebrek geen/*niet zwemmenN kan leren.
  that  his daughter  by lack.of.money  no/not  swim  can  learn
  'that his daughter canʼt learn swimming because of lack of money.'
b. dat hij zijn dochter door geldgebrek niet kan leren zwemmenV.
  that  he  his daughter  by lack.of.money  not  can  teach  swim
  'that he canʼt teach his daughter to swim because of lack of money.'
b'. dat hij zijn·dochter door geldgebrek geen/*niet zwemmenN kan leren.
  that  he  his daughter  by lack.of.money  no/not  swim  can  learn
  'that he canʼt teach his daughter swimming because of lack of money.'

The examples in (611) illustrate the same contrast by means of perfect-tense constructions.

Example 611
a. dat zijn dochter door geldgebrek niet heeft leren zwemmenV.
  that  his daughter  by lack.of.money  not  has  learn  swim
  'that his daughter hasnʼt learned to swim because of lack of money.'
a'. dat zijn dochter door geldgebrek geen/*niet zwemmenN heeft geleerd.
  that  his daughter  by lack.of.money  no/not  swim  has  learned
  'that his daughter hasnʼt learned swimming because of lack of money.'
b. dat hij zijn dochter door geldgebrek niet heeft leren zwemmenV.
  that  he his daughter  by lack.of.money  not  has  teach  swim
  'that he hasnʼt taught his daughter to swim because of lack of money.'
b'. dat hij zijn dochter door geldgebrek geen/*niet zwemmenN heeft geleerd.
  that  he his daughter  by lack.of.money  no/not  swim  has taught
  'that he hasnʼt taught his daughter swimming because of lack of money.'

The negation facts are less telling with transitive constructions such as auto rijden'to drive' since the indefinite object auto in the verbal construction cannot follow the negative adverb niet'not' either, and can likewise be preceded by the negative article geen'no'. So, at face value, the two perfect-tense constructions in (612) seem to behave in an identical fashion in this case. We should keep in mind, however, that the article geen is the determiner of the noun phrase geen auto in (612a) but of the bare-inf nominalization geen auto rijden in (612b).

Example 612
a. dat Jan geen/*niet auto heeft leren rijdenV.
  that  Jan  no/not  car  has  learn  drive
  'that Jan hasnʼt learned to drive a car.'
b. dat Jan geen/*niet auto rijdenN heeft geleerd.
  that  Jan  no/not  car  drive  has  learned
  'that Jan hasnʼt learned driving a car.'
[+]  VI.  Conclusion

The discussion so far has established six differences between constructions with a bare infinitival clausal complement and a nominal complement in the form of a bare-inf nominalization. These were already announced in Table (599), which is therefore simply repeated here as (613).

Example 613
The verbal and nominal use of bare infinitives
    infinitival clause nominalization
I is part of the verbal complex +
II precedes/follows the governing verb normally follows precedes
III triggers IPP-effect +
IV allows focus movement +
V may follow negative adverb niet'not' +
VI can be preceded by the article geen'no' +

The findings in Table (613) are important because they may help us in determining whether a given bare infinitive does or does not belong to the verbal complex. The discussion in this section suggests at least that bare infinitives preceding their governing verb are nominalizations if the bare infinitive is part of a verbal complex of two or more verbs. If correct, this will simplify the description of the word order of the verbal complex considerably; we will return to this in Chapter 7.

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