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7.4. Permeation of verb clusters
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In the northern varieties of Standard Dutch, verb clusters are normally impermeable by other elements. As a result, in clusters with the linear order Vn–...–V2–Main1, the most deeply embedded main verb (= Main1) is separated from its dependents that precede it. The examples in (171) illustrate this for a direct object, a complementive, and a manner adverb.

Example 171
a. dat Jan morgen <dat boek> moet <*dat boek> lezen.
direct object
  that  Jan tomorrow    that book  must  read
  'that Jan must read that book tomorrow.'
b. dat het hek <knalgeel> is <*knalgeel> geverfd.
complementive
  that  the gate  bright.yellow  has.been  painted
  'that the gate has been painted bright yellow.'
c. dat Jan <zorgvuldiger> moet <*zorgvuldiger> werken.
manner adverb
  that  Jan   more.carefully  must  work
  'that Jan must work more carefully.'

Similarly, in clusters with the linear order ...–Main1–...–Vn, the main verb Main1 is separated from its dependents that follow it. This is illustrated in (172) for a direct object clause and a prepositional complement.

Example 172
a. dat Marie me verteld <*dat Jan ziek is> heeft <dat Jan ziek is>.
  that  Marie me  told      that Jan ill is  has
  'that Marie has told me that Jan is ill.'
b. dat Peter gewacht <*op zijn vader> heeft <op zijn vader>.
  that  Peter waited      for his father  has
  'that Peter has waited for his father.'

Since the generalization that verb clusters cannot be permeated by dependents following the main verb is without exceptions, we can concentrate in what follows on examples of the type in (171). We will restrict our attention to the permeability of verb clusters by the three types of elements given there: direct objects, complementives and manner adverbs will be discussed in separate subsections.

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[+]  I.  Nominal arguments

A notable exception to the ban on permeation of verb clusters are bare objects in N + V collocations like paardrijden'to ride a horse' and pianospelen'to play the piano' in (173).

Example 173
a. dat Jan <paard> leert <paard> rijden.
  that  Jan    horse  learns  ride
  'that Jan is learning to ride a horse.'
b. dat Marie <piano> heeft <piano> gespeeld.
  that  Marie    piano  has  played
  'that Marie has played the piano.'

Examples of this type need not be a problem for the claim that verb clusters are impermeable provided that we assume that collocations like paardrijdenor pianospelenare compounds if the bare noun permeates a cluster. There are, however, various reasons not to follow this suggestion. First, bare nouns permeating larger verb clusters need not be adjacent to their associate main verb, as shown in (174). The acceptability of the linear order V3–Noun–V2–Main1 shows that assuming a compound analysis is not sufficient to explain why bare nouns may permeate verb clusters.

Example 174
a. dat Jan <paard> wil <paard> leren <paard> rijden.
  that  Jan    horse  wants  learn  ride
  'that Jan wants to learn to ride a horse.'
b. dat Marie <piano> moet <piano> hebben <piano> gespeeld.
  that  Marie    piano  must  have  played
  'that Marie must have played the piano.'

Second, the examples in (175) show that the bare noun cannot be pied-piped when the verb undergoes verb-second. Examples such as (175) contrast sharply with examples such as Peter stofzuigt graag'Peter likes to hoover' where stofzuigen'to hoover' is a compound. The compound analysis of paardrijden and pianospelen calls for a separate explanation for the impossibility of pied piping.

Example 175
a. Jan <*paard> rijdt graag <paard>.
  Jan      horse  rides  gladly
  'Jan likes to ride a horse.'
b. Marie <*piano> speelt graag <piano>.
  Marie      piano  plays  gladly
  'Marie likes to play the piano.'

Third, participle formation cannot be based on the presumed compounds paardrijden and pianospelen, as is clear from the fact that the prefix cannot precede the bare noun in (176). Examples such as (176) contrast sharply with examples such as Peter heeft gestofzuigd, in which stofzuigen'to hoover' is a compound.

Example 176
a. Jan heeft <paard> ge- <paard> -reden.
  Jan has    horse  ge- ridden
  'Jan has ridden a horse.'
b. Marie heeft <piano> ge- <*piano> -speel-d.
  Marie has    piano      ge-   play-d
  'Marie has played the piano.'

The examples in (174) to (176) show that the compound analysis of paardrijden and pianospelen does not fully solve the problem, and actually creates a number of new problems. The alternative analysis is that there is in fact no general ban on permeation of verb clusters by nominal arguments of the main verb. The alternative finds support in the fact that certain varieties of Standard Dutch spoken in Flanders do also allow permeation of the verb cluster by bare (singular or plural) objects that do not form a collocation with the verb. In West-Flanders permeation is even possible by indefinite and definite objects, but it is not clear to us whether this can be considered part of the regional variety of Standard Dutch or whether it should be considered a dialectal property. The examples in (177) are taken in a slightly adapted form from Barbiers et al. (2008: Section 2.3.1), to which we refer the reader for further discussion of the regional spread of these forms of permeability of verb clusters.

Example 177
a. dat Jan morgen <brood> wil <%brood> eten.
  that  Jan tomorrow    bread  wants  eat
  'that Jan wants to eat bread tomorrow.'
b. dat Jan <varkens> wil <%varkens> kopen.
  that  Jan    pigs  wants  buy
  'that Jan wants to buy pigs.'
c. dat Jan <een nieuwe schuur> moet <%een nieuwe schuur> bouwen.
  that  Jan    a new barn  must  build
  'that Jan must build a new barn.'
d. dat Jan <de auto> moet <%de auto> verkopen.
  that  Jan    the car  must  sell
  'that Jan has to sell the car.'
[+]  II.  Complementives and verbal particles

Although adjectival complementives normally precede the verb cluster as a whole, many (but not all) speakers accept permeation of the cluster if the adjective is monosyllabic. In other words, there is a sharp contrast between example (178a) and (178b). Example (178c) further shows that in order to be able to permeate the verb cluster the adjectival phrase must be simple, in the sense that it cannot be modified by, e.g., a degree adverb or be otherwise complex.

Example 178
a. dat het hek <knalgeel> is <*knalgeel> geverfd.
  that  the gate  bright.yellow  has.been  painted
  'that the gate has been painted bright yellow.'
b. dat het hek <geel> is <geel> geverfd.
  that  the gate  yellow  has.been  painted
  'that the gate has been painted yellow.'
c. dat het hek <heel geel> is <*heel geel> geverfd.
  that  the gate  very yellow  has.been  painted
  'that the gate has been painted very yellow.'

It has been suggested that the acceptability of permeation of the verb cluster in examples such as (178a) is due to complex predicate formation, that is, incorporation of the adjectival complement into the verb, as a result of which a compound-like element is created; cf. Neeleman (1994b). There are various reasons not to follow this suggestion. The most important one is that bare adjectives that permeate larger verb clusters need not be adjacent to the verb which they are assumed to form a complex predicate with. The acceptability of the order V3–Adjective–V2–Main1 in (179a) shows that assuming an incorporation analysis is not sufficient to explain why bare adjectives may permeate verb clusters. On the basis of the incorporation analysis we would furthermore expect that the adjective could be pied-piped under verb-second; the fact illustrated in (179b) that this expectation is not borne out thus forces us to assume additional stipulations in order to account for this.

Example 179
a. dat het hek <geel> moet <geel> worden <geel> geverfd.
  that  the gate  yellow  must  be  painted
  'that the gate must be painted yellow.'
b. Jan <*geel> verft het hek <geel>.
  Jan   yellow  paints  the gate
  'Jan is painting the gate yellow.'

      Verbal particles, which are also analyzed as complementives in Section 2.2, are even better suited to illustrate that there is no absolute ban on permeation of verb clusters. All speakers of Dutch accept examples of the type in (180).

Example 180
a. dat Jan alle koekjes <op> heeft <op> gegeten.
  that  Jan all cookies      up  has  eaten
  'that Jan has eaten up all the cookies.'
b. dat Jan alle koekjes <op> wil <op> eten.
  that  Jan all cookies    up  wants  eat
  'that Jan wants to eat up all the cookies.'

Again, it is often suggested that the permeation of the verb clusters in examples such as (180) is due to the fact that we are dealing with compound-like verbs. That this is not evident is clear from the fact that particles that permeate verb clusters do not need to be adjacent to their associate verbs (Bennis 1992), and from the fact that they must be stranded when the verb undergoes verb-second.

Example 181
a. dat Jan alle koekjes <op> heeft <op> willen <op> eten.
  that  Jan all cookies    up  has  want  eat
  'that Jan has wanted to eat up all the cookies.'
b. Jan <*op> eet alle koekjes <op>.
  Jan      up  eat all cookies
  'Jan is eating up all the cookies.'

The examples in (182a) further show that many speakers also allow postpositions to permeate verb clusters, and (182b) shows the same holds for the second part of circumpositions like over ... heen'over'; see van Riemsdijk (1978) and Section P5.2.2 for more discussion. This is, however, not generally accepted for stranded prepositions like op in (182a), although southern speakers are more permissive in this respect.

Example 182
a. dat Jan daarnet de boom <in> is <in> geklommen.
  that  Jan just.now  the tree   into  is  climbed
  'that Jan has just climbed into the tree.'
b. dat Marie daarnet over het hek <heen> is <heen> gesprongen.
  that  Marie  just now  over the fence   heen  is  jumped
  'that Marie has just jumped over the fence.'
c. dat Jan er snel <in> is <%in> gedoken.
  that  Jan there  quick    in    is  dived
  'that Jan dived into it quickly.'

Barbiers et al. (2008: Section 2.3.1) further show that especially West-Flemish speakers allow complex PP-complements to permeate verb clusters.

Example 183
dat Marie <naar Jan> moet <%naar Jan> bellen.
  that  Marie    to Jan  must  call
'that Marie must call Jan.'
[+]  III.  Adverbs

Adverbs are normally not allowed to permeate verb clusters. Given that manner adverbs must be directly construed with the main verb, they are best suited to illustrate this fact. An example of an adverb modifying a verb phrase is given in (184b).

Example 184
a. dat Jan <zorgvuldig> moet <%zorgvuldig> werken.
  that  Jan    carefully  must  work
  'that Jan must work carefully.'
b. dat Jan <vroeg> moet <%vroeg> opstaan.
  that  Jan    early  must  stand.up
  'that Jan has to rise early.'

The percentage signs again indicate that permeation is not rejected by all speakers; it is acceptable for many speakers from West-Flanders; see Barbiers et al. (2008: Section 2.3.1).

[+]  IV.  Conclusion

The previous subsections have shown that there is no general ban on permeation of verb clusters: there is a clear tendency to avoid it, but there are many exceptions and there is a considerable regional variation; more detailed information on regional variation can be found in Sections 5.2.3 and 6.2, as well as Barbiers (2008:ch.2). There have been attempts to account for some of the cases by assuming that they involve compound verbs or (syntactically created) complex predicates, but we have seen that this still does not fully account for all the facts and sometimes even creates new problems. Furthermore, it is not easy to extend such accounts in order to account for permeation of verb clusters in some of the more permissive varieties of Dutch like West-Flemish, which also allows definite objects and adverbs to permeate verb clusters. Regardless of whether these varieties should be considered as dialects or as instantiations of a regional variety of Standard Dutch, this is quite telling since we have reasons for assuming that the situation in West-Flemish corresponds to the older stages of current Standard Dutch. The limited amount of permeation we found in the northern variety of Standard Dutch has arisen by a gradual reduction of the set of elements that could permeate the verb cluster; we refer the reader to Hoeksema (1994) and Van der Horst (2008) for a more detailed discussion of this diachronic development.

References:
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, Vogelaer, Gunther de, Devos, Magda & Ham, Margreet van de2008Syntactic atlas of the Dutch dialectsAmsterdamAmsterdam University Press
  • Bennis, Hans1992Long head movement: the position of particles in the verbal cluster in DutchBok-Bennam, Reineke & Hout, Roeland van (eds.)Linguistics in the Netherlands 1992Amsterdam/Philadephia37-49
  • Hoeksema, Jack1994The history of Dutch verb projection raising
  • Horst, Joop van der2008Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse syntaxisLeuvenUniversitaire Pers Leuven
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Complex predicatesUtrechtUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Riemsdijk, Henk C. van1978A case study in syntactic markedness: the binding nature of prepositional phrasesPeter de Ridder Press
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