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8.3.3. Clause adverbials

Section 8.3.2 has shown that most VP adverbials can surface in various forms: they can generally appear in an adjectival or prepositional form, and in some cases they can even be nominal or clausal. Since VP adverbials are typically phrasal, they can be formed productively. This also holds true for locational, temporal and contingency clause adverbials: they do not differ in essential ways from their counterparts functioning as VP adverbials. However, many clause adverbs are quite restricted when it comes to form, as is clear from the fact that in many cases they constitute a closed class of lexical elements, and it is therefore not surprising that precisely these elements are often considered to belong to a category of adverbs. Consider again the subclasses of clause adverbials in (170), taken from Section 8.2.2.

Example 170
a. Polarity: negation ( niet'not' ); affirmation (wel)
b. Focus particles: alleen'only', ook'too', zelfs'even', etc.
c. Aspectual: habitual; iterative; frequentative; continuative; etc.
d. Clause-degree ( bijna'nearly'; amper'hardly', etc.)
e. Propositional modal ( waarschijnlijk'probably'; blijkbaar'apparently')
f. Subject-oriented ( stom genoeg'stupidly', wijselijk'wisely', etc.)
g. Subjective: factive ( helaas'unfortunately' ); non-factive
h. Point-of-view ( volgens Els'according to Els' )
i. Spatio-temporal: place; time
j. Contingency: cause; reason; condition; concession
k. Domain ( juridisch gezien'legally', moreel gezien 'morally', etc.)
l. Conjunctive ( echter'however', derhalve'therefore', etc.)
m. Speech-act related ( eerlijk gezegd'honestly', etc.)

Polarity adverbials clearly constitute a closed class; it only contains the negative element niet'not' and the affirmative element wel. These are normally considered adverbs, as it is not so easy to find decisive arguments to place them into one of the four major lexical categories. The same holds for the focus particles in (170b): they constitute a relatively small set, and again it is difficult, if not impossible, to show that they belong to one of the major lexical categories. The categorial status of some of the aspectual adverbs is not difficult to detect: habitual gewoonlijk'usually' and frequentative vaak'often' are clearly adjectival, while drie maal'three times' is clearly nominal. However, there are also many cases for which the category is less easy to determine; specific examples are continuative nog (steeds)'still', terminative niet meer'no longer', iterative weer'again', and al'already'.
      Clause-degree adverbials again constitute a more or lesss closed class: bijna'nearly'; amper'hardly', haast'nearly'. Some of these elements can also be used as degree modifiers of adjectives but it is again difficult to determine whether they belong to one of the major lexical classes. This is easier for adverbials expressing propositional modality, which are recognizable as adjectives because of their morphological form in many cases: they are often derived by suffixes like (e)lijk and -baar, and can sometimes be preceded by the negative prefix on-.

Example 171
a. Epistemic adverbials: gegarandeerd'certainly', misschien'maybe', mogelijk'possibly', natuurlijk'naturally/of course', noodzakelijk(erwijs)'necessarily', ongetwijfeld'undoubtedly', vermoedelijk'supposedly', waarschijnlijk'probably', zeker'certainly', etc.
b. Evidential adverbials: blijkbaar'evidently', duidelijk'clearly', evident'evidently', kennelijk'obviously', klaarblijkelijk'apparently', ogenschijnlijk'apparently', onmiskenbaar'unmistakably', schijnbaar'seemingly', vermoedelijk'probably', zichtbaar'visibly/evidently', etc.

It should be noted, however, that the adjectives in (171) often exhibit restricted behavior when they are used adverbially. For instance, the examples in (172) show that while it is easily possible to question waarschijnlijk if used as complementive, this is not possible when it is used adverbially. It does not seem to be the case that this restriction is syntactic in nature, however: modal adverbials are often considered speaker-oriented in the sense that they provide the speaker’s evaluation, and it is therefore not likely that the speaker will question such a modal.

Example 172
a. Dit is zeer waarschijnlijk.
  this  is very  likely
a'. Hoe waarschijnlijk is dit?
  how likely is this
b. Jan gaat zeer waarschijnlijk weg.
  Jan goes  very probably  away
  'Jan is quite probably leaving.'
b'. * Hoe waarschijnlijk gaat Jan weg?
  how probably  goes  Jan away

It is less easy to explain that the adverbially used adjectives exhibit restrictions on modification that are not found in their attributively/predicatively used counterparts. For instance, while the primeless examples in (172) show that waarschijnlijk can be modified by the intensifier zeer'very' regardless of its syntactic function, the intensifier erg'very' or the downtoner vrij'fairly' in the (a)-examples in (173) give rise to marked results when waarschijnlijk is adverbial. The (b)-examples show that similar observations can be made with respect to comparative formation. The (c)-examples show that the adverbially used adjective is also more restricted than its attributively/predicatively used counterpart in that it does not allow on- prefixation.

Example 173
a. Dit is erg/vrij waarschijnlijk.
  this  is  very/fairly  probable
a'. Jan gaat ??erg/?vrij waarschijnlijk weg.
  Jan goes  very/fairly  probably  away
b. Dit is waarschijnlijker (dan dat).
  this  is more.probable   than that
b'. * Jan gaat waarschijnlijker weg (dan Peter).
  Jan goes  more.probably  away   than Peter
c. Dit is onwaarschijnlijk.
  this  is  improbable
c'. * Jan gaat onwaarschijnlijk weg.
  Jan goes  improbably  away

A special case worth mentioning in passing is soms, which is normally used as a frequency adverbial but also occurs as an epistemic modal in questions.

Example 174
Bent u soms ziek?
  are  you  perhaps  ill
'Are you ill, perhaps?'

Subject-oriented adverbials are clearly adjectival, but are nevertheless severely restricted in form: they are normally followed by the modifying element genoeg'enough', formed by the unproductive deadjectival suffix -elijk, or involve other less productive formations like domweg'stupidly' and botweg'bluntly/rudely'; see Diepeveen (2012) for relevant discussion of these deadjectival forms (as well as some of the other complex adverbial forms mentioned later in this section).

Example 175
a. Jan ging dom (*genoeg) niet naar het feest.
  Jan went  stupid enough  not  to the party
  'Jan stupidly didnʼt go to the party.'
b. Jan ging wijselijk/??wijs niet naar het feest.
  Jan went  wisely/wise  not  to the party
  'Jan wisely didnʼt go to the party.'

      Subjective adverbials are probably also adjectival in nature, as is clear from the fact that gelukkig'fortunately' and vanzelfsprekend'obviously/self-evidently' are run-of-the-mill adjectives. This stance is further supported by the fact that these adverbials are sometimes modified by the element genoeg or formed by means of the deadjectival suffixes -erwijs and -lijk: cf. jammer genoeg'regrettably', begrijpelijkerwijs'understandably', and hopelijk'hopefully'. It is, however, difficult to demonstrate this for the form helaas'unfortunately'. Note that these adverbials are speaker-oriented in that they provided the speakers evaluation, and it is therefore understandable that these adverbials cannot be questioned.
      Point-of-view adverbials are prototypically PPs headed by volgens'according to'; other cases are the PP naar mijn mening'in my opinion' and the formulaic case-marked form mijns inziens'in my view'. We can also be brief about the spatio-temporal clause adverbials as they exhibit the same freedom in form as their counterparts functioning as VP adverbials; we can therefore refer the reader to the discussion in Section 8.3.2, sub III. more or lesss the same holds for the contingency adverbials; we only have to add to the discussion in Section 8.3.2, sub IV, that conditional adverbials are typically expressed by a clause introduced by a subordinator such as indien'in the event of', mits'provided that', or tenzij'unless'. Note in passing that conditional clauses introduced by mits/tenzij can only be used in the right periphery of the clause. Occasionally, we also find (deictic) conditional PPs: cf. Onder deze voorwaarde mag hij komen'He may come on this condition'.

Example 176
a. Indien hij wil komen, moet hij me opbellen.
  if   he wants come  must  he  me  prt.-call
  'If he wants to come, he should call me.'
b. Hij mag komen mits hij het me tijdig zegt.
  he  may  come  provided  he  it  me  in.time  tells
  'He can come provided he tells me in time.'

The prototypical case of a conditional clause is probably a clause introduced by als'if'. It should be noted, however, that there is reason to believe that such conditional clauses are at least sometimes in extra-sentential position and should therefore not be analyzed as adverbials. This is quite clear from (177a), in which the first position of the main clause is filled by the resumptive proform dan'then'. Example (177b) further shows that such conditional clauses are special in that they alternate with V1-clauses; we will not digress on this point here but refer the reader to Section 10.3.2 for an extensive discussion of examples such as (177) as well as various related constructions.

Example 177
a. Als het morgen regent, dan ga ik naar de bioscoop.
  if  it  tomorrow  rains  then  go  to the cinema
  'If it rains tomorrow, Iʼll go to the cinema.'
b. Regent het morgen, dan ga ik naar de bioscoop.
  rains  it  tomorrow  then  go  to the cinema
  'If it rains tomorrow, Iʼll go to the cinema.'

      Section 8.2.2, sub XI, has already shown that domain adverbials are normally adjectival, although it is also quite common to use phrases headed by a past/passive participle. This is illustrated again in (178).

Example 178
a. Theoretisch (gezien) is dat inderdaad te verwachten.
  theoretically   seen  is  that  indeed  to expect
  'Theoretically (seen), that is indeed to be expected.'
b. Juridisch (gesproken) heeft hij gelijk.
  legally  spoken  has  he  correct
  'Legally (speaking), heʼs right.'

Speech-act related adverbials such as eerlijk gezegd'honestly' are generally expressed by a phrase consisting of a participle verb modified by a manner adverb; omission of the past/passive participle will give rise to an unacceptable result.

Example 179
Eerlijk (*gezegd) begrijp ik dat niet.
  honestly     said  understand  I that  not
'Honestly speaking, I donʼt understand it.'

Finally, conjunctive adverbials like echter'however' and derhalve'therefore' again seem to make up a more or lesss closed set of elements; see Section 8.2.2, sub XII, for a representative sample of such adverbials.
      This subsection has provided a brief review of the restrictions on the form of clause adverbials; we have shown that with the exception of the spatio-temporal and contingency adverbials, clause adverbials exhibit less variation in form than VP adverbials. Furthermore, clause adverbials seem to be subject to various idiosyncratic restrictions and tend to be part of lexically closed classes, which has motivated earlier claims in the literature that a separate category of adverbs should be recognized; see Section 8.3.1 for discussion.

  • Diepeveen, Ariane2012Modifying words. Dutch adverbial morphology in contrast.FU BerlinThesis
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