• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
9.5. The middle field
quickinfo

This section briefly discusses the so-called middle field of the clause, that is, that part of the clause bounded to the right by the verb(s) in clause-final position (if present), and to the left by the complementizer in an embedded clause or the finite verb in a main clause. The middle field of the examples in (66) is in italics.

Example 66
a. Gisteren heeft Jan met plezier dat boek gelezen.
  yesterday  has  Jan  with pleasure  that book  read
  'Jan enjoyed reading that book yesterday.'
b. Ik denk [dat Jan met plezier dat boek gelezen heeft].
  think  that  Jan  with pleasure  that book  read  has
  'I think that Jan enjoyed reading that book.'

The middle field of a clause is not a constituent and not even a phrase, but refers to a set of positions within the clause. If we adopt the representation in (59b) and assume that C is the position of the complementizer or the finite verb in second position and that the clause-final verb occupies V, the middle field is as indicated in (67).

Example 67

The fact that the middle field does not refer to a discrete entity in the clausal domain makes it clear immediately that we are dealing with a pre-theoretical notion. This is also evident from the fact that it refers to a slightly smaller domain in subject-initial sentences, such as Jan heeft met plezier dat boek gelezen, if such sentences are not CPs but TPs, as suggested by the data discussed in Section 9.3, sub IV.

Example 68
a. Jan heeft met plezier dat boek gelezen.
  Jan has  with pleasure  that book  read
b.

Recall that X in the structures in (67) and (68) stands for an indeterminate number of functional heads that may be needed to provide a full description of the structure of the clause. More specifically, just as the specifier of C may function as the landing site of wh-movement and topicalization, the lower functional heads may likewise introduce specifiers that can function as landing sites for several other types of movement.

Example 69

Whether the postulation of such functional heads is indeed necessary or whether there are alternative ways of expressing the same theoretical intuition is a controversial matter, but it is evident that Dutch exhibits considerable freedom in word order (relative to many other languages) in the middle field of the clause. Example (70a), for instance, shows that a direct object can be left-adjacent to the verb(s) in clause-final position, but may also occur farther to the left. Similarly, example (70b) shows that the subject may be right-adjacent to the complementizer or finite verb in second position, but can also occur farther to the right.

Example 70
a. dat Jan <het boek> waarschijnlijk <het boek> koopt.
  that  Jan    the book  probably  buys
  'that Jan will probably buy the book.'
b. dat <die jongen> waarschijnlijk <die jongen> het boek koopt.
  that     that boy  probably  the book buys
  'that that boy will probably buy the book.'

The following subsections discuss a number of cases of word order variation in the middle field of the clause in terms of leftward movement without being too specific about the functional heads that may be involved (if any). We will show, however, that these movements may have semantic effects and/or may be related to certain semantic features of the moved elements. Before beginning with this, we want to make some remarks about a number of elements typically occurring at the right-hand edge of the middle field of the clause.

readmore
[+]  I.  Complementives and verbal particles

Predicative complements (complementives) normally precede the clause-final verb(s), whatever their category, as shown in (73) for nominal, adjectival and prepositional complementives. This word order restriction is especially conspicuous in the case of predicative PPs like op het bed in (71c) given that PP-complements normally can readily appear in postverbal position; cf. Section 9.4.

Example 71
a. dat ik hem <een schat> vind <*een schat>.
nominal
  that  him    a dear  consider
  'that I believe him to be a darling.'
b. dat Peter Marie <erg kwaad> maakt <*erg kwaad>.
adjectival
  that  Peter Marie   very angry  makes
  'that Peter makes Marie very angry.'
c. dat Jan zijn kleren <op het bed> gooit <*op het bed>.
prepositional
  that  Jan his clothes  on the bed  throws
  'that Jan throws his clothes on the bed.'

Complementives can easily be moved into clause-initial position by topicalization or wh-movement, but in the middle field they normally occupy the position adjacent to the verb(s) in clause-final position, as illustrated in the examples in (72). We will see in Subsection IIID, however, that they may sometimes be moved to the left if they receive contrastive accent.

Example 72
a. dat ik hem <*een schat> nog steeds <een schat> vind.
nominal
  that  him      a dear  yet still  consider
  'that I still believe him to be a darling.'
b. dat Peter Marie <*erg kwaad> vaak <erg kwaad> maakt.
adjectival
  that  Peter Marie     very angry  often  makes
  'that Peter often makes Marie very angry.'
c. dat Jan zijn kleren <*op het bed> meestal <op het bed> gooit.
prepositional
  that  Jan his clothes      on the bed  normally  throws
  'that Jan normally throws his clothes on the bed.'

The tendency of complementives to immediately precede the verb(s) in clause-final position makes it possible to use complementives as a diagnostic for extraposition. This is illustrated in (73) where we see that nominal arguments (here the subject of the complementives themselves) must precede the complementives, whereas clausal arguments must follow them, just as in the case of clause-final verbs.

Example 73
a. Jan maakte <het probleem> duidelijk <*het probleem>.
  Jan made    the problem  clear
  'Jan clarified the problem.'
b. Jan maakte <*dat het onmogelijk was> duidelijk <dat het onmogelijk was>.
  Jan made       that it impossible was  clear
  'Jan made it clear that it was impossible.'

Verbal particles are perhaps even more reliable indicators of extraposition. Like the complementives in the examples above, they are normally left-adjacent to the verb(s) in clause-final position, but unlike complementives they cannot be moved leftwards because it is normally not easy to assign them contrastive accent. The examples in (74) with the particle verb afleiden'to deduce from' show that, in neutral sentences, the PP-complement may either precede or follow the particle, and that the particle follows nominal but precedes clausal complements. Again, this is precisely what we find with clause-final verbs; cf, Subsection I.

Example 74
a. Els leidde deze conclusie <uit zijn weigering> af <uit zijn weigering>.
  Els deduced  this conclusion    from his refusal prt.
  'Els concluded this from his refusal.'
b. Els leidde <uit zijn weigering> af <uit zijn weigering> dat hij bang was.
  Els deduced    from his refusal  prt.  that he scared was
  'Els deduced from his refusal that he was scared.'

The examples in (73) and (74) show that in clauses without clause-final verbs complementives and verbal particles can be used as reliable indicators of the right boundary of the middle field.

[+]  II.  Nominal argument (object and subject) shift

Dutch allows a wide variety of word orders in the middle field of the clause. This subsection discusses the relative order of nominal arguments and clausal adverbs like waarschijnlijk'probably'. All nominal arguments of the verb may either precede or follow such adverbs, which is illustrated in (75) by means of a subject and a direct object. The word order variation in (75) is not entirely free but restricted by information-structural considerations, more specifically, the division between presupposition (discourse-old information) and focus (discourse-new information); cf. Verhagen (1986).

Example 75
a. dat waarschijnlijk Marie dat boek wil kopen.
  that  probably  Marie  that book  wants  buy
  'that Marie probably wants to buy that book.'
a'. dat Marie waarschijnlijk dat boek wil kopen.
  that  Marie probably  that book  wants  buy
  'that Marie probably wants to buy that book.'
b. Marie heeft waarschijnlijk dat boek gekocht.
  Marie  has  probably  that book  bought
  'Marie has probably bought that book.'
b'. Marie heeft dat boek waarschijnlijk gekocht.
  Marie  has  that book  probably  bought
  'Marie has probably bought that book.'

The distinction between presupposition and focus is especially clear in question-answer contexts, as we will illustrate below for the cases of object movement in the (b)-examples. A question like (76a) introduces the referent of dat boek as a topic of discussion, and therefore the answer preferably has the noun phrase in front of the adverb, that is, presents the noun phrase as discourse-old information; in actual speech, this is made even clearer by replacing the noun phrase dat boek by the personal pronoun het, which typically refers to discourse-old information.

Example 76
a. Wat heeft Marie met dat boek gedaan?
question
  what  has  Marie  with  that book  done
b. ?? Zij heeft waarschijnlijk dat boek gekocht.
answer = (75b)
  she  has  probably  that book  bought
b'. Zij heeft dat boek waarschijnlijk gekocht.
answer = (75b')
  she  has  that book  probably  bought

A question like (77a), on the other hand, clearly does not presuppose the referent of the noun phrase dat boek to be a topic of discourse, and now the preferred answer has the noun phrase after the adverb. The answer in (77b') with the nominal object preceding the adverb is only possible if the context provides more information, e.g., if the participants in the discourse know that Marie had the choice between buying a specific book or a specific CD; in that case the nominal object preceding the adverb is likely to have contrastive accent.

Example 77
a. Wat heeft Marie gekocht?
question
  what  has  Jan read
b. Zij heeft waarschijnlijk dat boek gekocht.
answer = (75b)
  she  has  probably  that book  bought
b'. *? Zij heeft dat boek waarschijnlijk gekocht.
answer = (75b')
  she  has  that book  probably  bought

There are various analyses available for the word order variations in (75); see the reviews in the introduction in Corver & Van Riemsdijk (1994) and Broekhuis (2007/2008: Section 2.1). It has been claimed, for example, that the orders in (75) are simply base-generated, and that the word order variation should be accounted for by assuming either variable base-positions for the nominal arguments, as in Neeleman (1994a/1994b), or variable base-positions for the adverbial phrase, as in Vanden Wyngaerd (1989). Here we opt for a movement analysis, according to which the nominal argument is generated to the right of the clausal adverb and optionally shifts into a more leftward position as indicated in (78).

Example 78

The optional subject shift in (78) is probably due to the same movement that we find in passive constructions such as (79b). As this movement places the subject in the position where nominative case is assigned, it has been suggested that the landing site of the optional object shift in (78) is a designated position in which accusative case is assigned; see Broekhuis (2008:ch.3) and the references cited there.

Example 79
a. Gisteren heeft JanSubject MarieIO de boekenDO aangeboden.
  yesterday  has  Jan  Marie  the books  prt.-offered
  'Yesterday Jan offered Marie the books.'
b. Gisteren werden <de boeken> MarieIO <de boeken> aangeboden.
  yesterday  were    the books  Marie  prt.-offered
  'Yesterday the books were offered to Marie (by Jan).'

The claim that subject and object shift target the nominative and accusative case positions implies that we are dealing with so-called A-movement. This is supported by the fact discussed in Subsection IIIA that this movement is restricted to nominal arguments; Section 13.2 will argue that nominal argument shift has more hallmarks of A-movement.

[+]  III.  Negation-, focus-, and topic-movement

Subsection II has shown that nominal arguments can occupy different positions in relation to the adverbial phrases in the clause; this was illustrated by means of the placement of subjects and direct objects vis-à-vis clausal adverbs like waarschijnlijk'probably'. We suggested that the word order variation is due to optional movement of the subject/object into a designated case position in the functional domain of the clause. If this suggestion is on the right track, we predict that this type of movement is restricted to nominal arguments: PP-complements of the verb, for example, are not assigned case and are therefore not associated either with a designated position in which case could be assigned. This raises the question as to how such PPs are able to occupy different positions in the middle field of the clause, subsection A will show that the movement involved differs in non-trivial ways from nominal argument shift. The subsequent subsections will show that there are various other types of movements that affect the word order in the middle field of the clause: negation-, focus-, and topic movement. As their names suggest, these movements are clearly related to certain semantic properties of the moved elements.

[+]  A.  Differences between nominal argument shift and movement of PP-complements

That PP-complements may occupy different surface positions in the clause is illustrated in the examples in (80), taken from Neeleman (1994a).

Example 80
a. dat Jan nauwelijks op mijn opmerking reageerde.
  that  Jan hardly  on my remark  reacted
  'that Jan hardly reacted to my remark.'
b. dat Jan op mijn opmerking nauwelijks reageerde.
  that  Jan on my remark  hardly  reacted

That the difference in placement is the result of movement receives support from the fact illustrated in (81) that R-extraction from the PP is only possible if the stranded preposition follows the clausal adverb (in this case nauwelijks'hardly'); if the (b)-examples in (80) and (81) are derived from the (a)-examples by leftward movement of the PP, this may be accounted for by appealing to the freezing effect. Note that we added the time adverb toen'then' in (81) in order to make the split of the pronominal PP daa rop visible.

Example 81
a. dat Jan daar toen nauwelijks op reageerde.
  that  Jan there  then  hardly  on  reacted
  'that Jan hardly reacted to that then.'
b. * dat Jan daar toen op nauwelijks reageerde.
  that  Jan there  then  on  hardly  reacted

An important reason for assuming that the movement which derives the order in (80b) is different from nominal argument shift has to do with the distribution of PPs that contain a definite pronoun, subsection II has already mentioned that definite subject/object pronouns normally undergo nominal argument shift: example (82a) is acceptable only if the pronoun hem is assigned contrastive accent: Jan nodigt waarschijnlijk hem uit (niet haar)'Jan will probably invite him (not her)'.

Example 82
a. * Jan nodigt waarschijnlijk hem/ʼm uit.
  Jan invites probably  him/him  prt
b. Jan nodigt hem/ʼm waarschijnlijk uit.
  Jan invites  him/him  probably  prt.
  'Jan will probably invite him.'

The examples in (83) show that this does not hold for PP-complements: if the nominal part of the PP is a definite pronoun, leftward movement is optional while it is excluded if the pronoun is phonetically reduced. It should be clear that the division between discourse-old and discourse-new information has no bearing on the leftward movement of PP-complements.

Example 83
a. dat Jan nauwelijks naar hem/ʼm luisterde.
  that  Jan hardly  to him/him  listened
  'that Jan hardly listened to him/him.'
a'. dat Jan naar hem/*ʼm nauwelijks luisterde.
b. dat Jan nauwelijks naar haar/ʼr keek.
  that  Jan hardly  at her/her  looked
  'that Jan hardly looked at her/her.'
b'. dat Jan naar haar/*ʼr nauwelijks keek.

The unacceptability of the reduced pronouns in the primed examples is especially remarkable in light of the fact that nominal argument shift typically has the effect of destressing the moved element. Some speakers report that they accept examples such as (80b) only if the nominal complement of the PP is contrastively stressed: if true, this would suggest that we are dealing with focus movement, which will be the topic of Subsection C. That the moved PPs must be stressed is supported by the fact that the pronouns in the primed examples of (83) differ from the shifted pronoun in (82b) in that they cannot be phonetically reduced.
      A second reason for assuming that the movement in (80b) is different from nominal argument shift is related to this effect: leftward movement of a complement PP under a neutral, that is, non-contrastive intonation pattern is only possible with a restricted set of adverbial phrases. If we replace the negative adverbial phrase nauwelijks'hardly' in (80b) by the adverbial phrase gisteren'yesterday', leftward movement of the PP gives rise to a degraded result (which can only be improved by giving the PP emphatic or contrastive stress). This is illustrated in (84) with three different PP-complements.

Example 84
a. Jan heeft nauwelijks/gisteren op mijn opmerkingen gereageerd.
  Jan has  hardly/yesterday  on my remarks  reacted
a'. Jan heeft op mijn opmerkingen nauwelijks/*gisteren gereageerd.
b. Jan heeft nauwelijks/gisteren naar Marie gekeken.
  Jan has  hardly/yesterday  at Marie  looked
b'. Jan heeft naar Marie nauwelijks/*gisteren gekeken.
c. Jan heeft gisteren op vader gewacht.
  Jan has  yesterday  for father  waited
c'. * Jan heeft op vader gisteren gewacht.

The primed examples in (84) with the adverb gisteren contrast sharply with similar examples with object shift, which can easily cross adverbs like gisteren: Ik heb <dat boek> gisteren <dat boek> gelezen'I read that book yesterday'. For completenesssake, note that some speakers report that the acceptability of the primed examples in (84) improves when gisteren is given emphatic accent.
      Finally, the (a)-examples in (85) show that leftward movement of a PP-complement across an adverbial PP is always blocked, whereas object shift across such an adverbial PP is easily possible. For completeness' sake, note that the unacceptability of leftward movement in (85a) cannot be accounted for by assuming some constraint that prohibits movement of a complement of a certain categorial type across an adverbial phrase of the same categorial type, given that such a constraint would incorrectly exclude object shift across the adverbially used noun phrase deze middag'this afternoon' in example (85b); cf. Verhagen (1986:78).

Example 85
a. dat Jan <*op Marie> na de vergadering <op Marie> wachtte.
  that  Jan     for Marie  after the meeting  waited
  'that Jan waited for Marie after the meeting.'
a'. dat Jan <het boek> na de vergadering <het boek> wegbracht.
  that  Jan   the book  after the meeting  away-brought
  'that Jan delivered the book after the meeting.'
b. dat Jan <dat boek> deze middag <dat boek> zal wegbrengen.
  that  Jan   that book  this afternoon  will away-bring
  'that Jan will deliver that book this afternoon.'

The discussion above has shown (contra Neeleman 1994a and Haeberli 2002) that leftward movement of PP-complements exhibits a behavior deviating from nominal argument shift, which in its turn suggests that it is a movement of some different type. The following subsections will show that there are indeed other types of leftward movement that may affect the word order in the middle field of the clause.

[+]  B.  Negation movement

Haegeman (1995) has argued for West-Flemish that negative phrases expressing sentential negation undergo obligatory leftward movement into the specifier of a functional head Neg; she further claims that this functional head can optionally be expressed morphologically by the negative clitic en: da Valère niemand (en-)kent'that Valère does not know anyone'. Although Standard Dutch does not have this negative clitic, it is possible to show that it does have the postulated leftward movement of negative phrases; cf. Klooster (1994). At first sight, the claim that Standard Dutch has negation movement may be surprising, given that negative direct objects as well as PP-complements with a negative nominal part are normally left-adjacent to the verb(s) in clause-final position.

Example 86
a. Jan heeft <*niets> waarschijnlijk <niets> gezien.
  Jan has    nothing  probably  seen
  'Jan has probably not seen anything.'
b. Jan zal <*op niemand> waarschijnlijk <op niemand> wachten.
  Jan will     for nobody  probably waited
  'Jan will probably not wait for anyone.'

That Standard Dutch has obligatory negation movement becomes evident, however, when we consider somewhat more complex examples. First, consider the examples in (87) with the adjectival complementive tevreden'content/pleased', which takes a PP-complement headed by the preposition over'about'. Although example (87a) shows that the PP-complement can either precede or follow the adjective, example (87b) strongly suggests that the A-PP order is the base order: leftward movement of the PP across the adjectival head gives rise to a freezing effect.

Example 87
a. Jan is <over Peter> erg tevreden <over Peter>.
  Jan is   with Peter  very content
  'Jan is very content with Peter.'
b. de jongen waar Jan <*over> erg tevreden <over> is
  the boy  where  Jan     with  very content  is
  'the boy whom Jan is very content with'

Example (88) shows that the PP-complement obligatorily moves to the left if its nominal part expresses sentence negation; examples with the order in (88a) are only acceptable with constituent negation: Jan is tevreden met niets'Jan is content with anything' does not mean that Jan is not pleased with anything but, on the contrary, that he is even content with very little (cf. Haegeman 1995:130-1).

Example 88
a. * Jan is erg tevreden over niemand.
  Jan is very content  about no.one
b. Jan is over niemand erg tevreden.
  Jan is about no.one  very content
  'Jan is not quite content about anyone.'

The reason why negation movement is normally not visible in Standard Dutch is that the landing site of this movement is a relatively low position in the middle field of the clause and often applies string-vacuously as a result. This will be clear from the fact illustrated in (89a) that the negative phrase from (88) preferably follows the clausal adverb waarschijnlijk'probably' under neutral intonation (the unacceptable order improves somewhat if the negative noun phrase is assigned contrastive accent). We have added example (89b) to show that it is not a coincidence that the PP-complement of the adjective is moved to this position following waarschijnlijk: the negative adverb niet'not' appears to be base-generated in this position.

Example 89
a. Jan is <*over niemand> waarschijnlijk <over niemand> erg tevreden.
  Jan is     about no.one  probably  very content
  'Jan is probably not quite content about anyone.'
b. Jan is <*niet> waarschijnlijk <niet> erg tevreden.
  Jan is     not  probably  very content
  'Jan is probably not quite content.'

That we are dealing with an obligatory leftward movement is also supported by the examples in (90); example (90a) shows again that PP-complements can normally either precede or follow the clause-final verb; if the nominal part of the PP-complement expresses sentence negation, however, the PP-complement must precede the verb, which would follow immediately if it undergoes obligatory leftward movement.

Example 90
a. Jan wil <op zijn vader> wachten <op zijn vader>.
  Jan wants     for his father  wait
  'Jan wants to wait for his father.'
b. Jan wil <op niemand> wachten <*op niemand>.
  Jan wants     for nobody  wait
  'Jan does not want to wait for anyone.'

This subsection has shown that phrases expressing sentence negation obligatorily move into some designated position to the right of the modal adverb waarschijnlijk'probably'. This shows that there are movement operations affecting the order of the constituents in the middle field of the clause that are different from nominal argument shift, given that the latter movement typically crosses the modal adverb.

[+]  C.  Focus movement

The notion of focus used here pertains to certain elements in the clause that are phonetically highlighted by means of accent, that is, emphatic and contrastive focus. Emphatic focus highlights one of the constituents in the clause, as in (91a). Contrastive focus is normally used to express that a certain predicate exclusively applies to a certain entity or to deny a certain presupposition on the part of the hearer, as in (91b).

Example 91
a. Ik heb hem een boek gegeven.
  have  him  a book  given
  'I have given him a book.'
b. Nee, ik heb hem een boek gegeven (en geen plaat).
  no,  have  him  a book  given   and not a record
  'No, I gave him a book (and not a record).'

Although example (92a) strongly suggests that focused phrases may remain in their base-position, example (92b) shows that they can also occur in clause-initial position.

Example 92
a. dat Jan erg trots op zijn boek is (maar niet op zijn artikel).
  that  Jan very proud  of his book  is   but not of his article
  'that Jan is very proud of his book (but not of his article)'
b. Op zijn boek is Jan erg trots (maar niet op zijn artikel).
  of his book  is Jan very proud   but not of his article

That focus phrases may occur in clause-initial position is not surprising given that cross-linguistically they behave very much like wh-phrases. In the Gbe languages (Kwa, for example), both types of phrases must occupy the clause-initial position and are obligatorily marked with the focus particle wὲ, as shown in the examples in (93) taken from Aboh (2004:ch.7). The same is shown by Hungarian, where interrogative and focused phrases are placed in the same position left-adjacent to the finite verb; see É. Kiss (2002:ch.4) for examples.

Example 93
a. wémà wὲ Sέnà xìá.
  book  focus  Sena  readperfective
  'Sena read a book.'
b. étε wὲ Sέnà xìá?
  what  focus  Sena  readperfective
  'What did Sena read?'

Given that focus phrases occupy a fixed position in languages like Kwa and Hungarian, it may be somewhat puzzling that in Standard Dutch focus phrases may occupy various positions in the middle field of the clause. The examples in (94) illustrate this by means of the PP-complement of the adjective trots'proud' in (92).

Example 94
a. dat Jan waarschijnlijk op zijn boek erg trots is (maar niet op zijn artikel).
  that Jan probably  of his book  very proud  is   but not on his article
  'that Jan is probably very proud of his book (but not of his article).'
b. dat Jan op zijn boek waarschijnlijk erg trots is (maar niet op zijn artikel).
  that Jan  of his book  probably very proud  is   but not on his article
  'that Jan is probably very proud of his book (but not of his article).'

That focused phrases may occupy a variety of surface positions in the clause has challenged the standard assumption that there is a unique position for such phrases to move into and has led to proposals adopting a more flexible approach; cf., e.g., Neeleman & Van de Koot 2008. We will not take a stand on this issue here, but simply conclude that the examples in this subsection show that focused phrases can optionally undergo leftward movement.

[+]  D.  Topic movement

The term topic is taken quite broadly here as aboutness-topic; it refers to the entity that the sentence is about. Typical examples are given in (95), which show that aboutness-topics are typically accented and may precede the subject if it is focused (which we have forced in (95) by combining the subject with the focus particle alleen'only').

Example 95
a. dat dit boek alleen Jan gelezen heeft.
  that this book  only Jan  read  has
  'that this book only Jan has read.'
b. dat zulke boeken alleen Jan wil lezen.
  that such books  only Jan  wants  read
  'that such books only Jan wants to read.'

The fact that leftward movement of aboutness-topics may change the underlying order of the arguments in the middle field (a property that according to some also holds for focus movement) shows that we are once more dealing with a movement type that differs from nominal argument shift discussed in Subsection II. That this is the case is also clear from the fact illustrated in (96) that aboutness-topics need not be nominal in nature, but can also be PPs or (complementive) APs.

Example 96
a. dat op die beslissing alleen Jan wil wachten.
  that for that decision  only Jan  wants  wait
  'that only Jan wants to wait for that decision.'
b. dat zo stom alleen Jan kan zijn.
  that  that stupid  only Jan  can  be
  'that only Jan can be that stupid.'
[+]  IV.  Conclusion

This section has shown that in Standard Dutch the word order in the middle field of the clause is relatively free. Although in older versions of generative grammar this was accounted for by assuming a generic stylistic scrambling rule, the discussion has shown that the attested word order variation is derived by means of a wider set of movement types. The first type is referred to as nominal argument shift: nominal arguments can move out of the lexical domain of the clause into a number of designated positions in the middle field where they are assigned case, provided that they express discourse-old information. There are a number of additional conditions on this type of movement that were ignored here, but the reader can find a discussion of these in Section 13.2. Besides nominal argument shift, there are a number of movement types typically targeting constituents with a specific semantic property: constituents which express sentence negation, which are contrastively focused, or which function as the aboutness-topic of the clause. We have seen that these movements all have their own peculiarities in terms of their landing site: negative phrases obligatorily target a position to the right of modal clausal adverbs like waarschijnlijk'probably'; focus movement is optional and is relatively free when it comes to the choice of its landing site; and aboutness-topics are special in that they can readily precede the subject of the clause if the latter is contrastively focused.

References:
  • Aboh, Enoch Oladé2004The morphosyntax of complement-head sequences. Clause structure and word order patterns in KwaOxford University Press
  • Broekhuis, Hans2007Subject shift and object shiftJournal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics10109-141
  • Broekhuis, Hans2008Derivations and evaluations: object shift in the Germanic languagesStudies in Generative GrammarBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
  • Broekhuis, Hans2008Derivations and evaluations: object shift in the Germanic languagesStudies in Generative GrammarBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
  • Corver, Norbert & Riemsdijk, Henk van1994Studies on scrambling: movement and non-movement approaches to free word-order phenomenaStudies in generative grammar 41Berlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
  • Haeberli, Eric2002Features, categories and the syntax of A-positionsStudies in Natural Language & Linguistic TheoryDordrecht/Boston/LondonKluwer
  • Haegeman, Liliane1995The syntax of negationCambridge studies in linguistics 75CambridgeCambridge University Press
  • Haegeman, Liliane1995The syntax of negationCambridge studies in linguistics 75CambridgeCambridge University Press
  • Kiss, Katalin É2002The syntax of HungarianCambridge syntax GuidesCambridge University Press
  • Klooster, Wim1994Syntactic differentiation in the licensing of polarity itemsHIL Manuscripts243-56
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Scrambling as a D-structure phenomenonCorver, Norbert & Riemsdijk, Henk van (eds.)Studies on scrambling. Movement and non-movement approaches to free word-order phenomenaBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter387-429
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Complex predicatesUtrechtUniversity of UtrechtThesis
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Scrambling as a D-structure phenomenonCorver, Norbert & Riemsdijk, Henk van (eds.)Studies on scrambling. Movement and non-movement approaches to free word-order phenomenaBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter387-429
  • Neeleman, Ad1994Scrambling as a D-structure phenomenonCorver, Norbert & Riemsdijk, Henk van (eds.)Studies on scrambling. Movement and non-movement approaches to free word-order phenomenaBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter387-429
  • Neeleman, Ad & Koot, Hans van de2008Dutch scrambling and the nature of discourse templatesThe Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics11137-189
  • Verhagen, Arie1986Linguistic theory and the function of word order in Dutch. A study on interpretive aspects of the order of adverbials and noun phrasesDordrechtForis Publications
  • Verhagen, Arie1986Linguistic theory and the function of word order in Dutch. A study on interpretive aspects of the order of adverbials and noun phrasesDordrechtForis Publications
  • Wyngaerd, Guido vanden1989Object shift as an A-movement ruleMIT Working Papers in Linguistics11256-271
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
cite
print
This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.