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Show full table of contents Vocatives

Certain nouns denoting a profession of social importance like dokter'doctor' or dominee'vicar' can be used as vocatives, that is, in a function similar to that of the proper noun in (108a). In this function, exemplified in (108b), the noun phrase is determinerless.

Example 108
a. Jan, kan je even komen?
  Jan  can  you  a while  come
  'Jan, could you come over for a minute?'
b. Dokter/Dominee, kunt u even komen?
  doctor/vicar  can  you  a while  come
  'Doctor/Vicar, could you come over for a minute?'

Dutch has an extended, argumental use of the vocative where the speaker uses dokter/dominee as the subject of a yes/no-question, addressing the question to the person referred to by the noun. As illustrated in (109a), the profession nouns can then optionally be preceded by a definite determiner. Finally, constructions such as (109b) are typically used in addressing persons who would use the “label” dokter/dominee as a vocative for the person under discussion.

Example 109
a. Wil (de) dokter/dominee misschien ook een kopje thee?
  wants  the  doctor/vicar  perhaps  also  a cup [of] tea
  'Would you also like a cup of tea, doctor/vicar?'
b. (De) dokter/dominee komt zo.
  the  doctor/vicar  comes  straightaway
  'The doctor/vicar will be with you in a moment.'

      Other profession nouns, like ober'waiter', can also be used as vocatives, as is shown in (110a). They are, however, not normal in constructions like (110b&c). Example (110b) is unacceptable without the article, and is stylistically marked even with the article (it has a patronizing ring to it); example (110c) is excluded without the article, and with the article the noun phrase acts as a normal referring expression.

Example 110
a. Ober, twee bier, alstublieft.
  waiter  two beer  please
b. Wil *(de) ober ook een biertje?
  wants    the waiter  also  a beer
c. * (De) ober komt zo.
  the waiter  comes  so

      Vocatives like mevrouw'madam' and meneer'sir' can be used in the same way. In examples such as (111a), the vocatives are used as a common way of politely addressing an adult person. In examples such as (111b) and especially (111c), on the other hand, the social rank of the addressee becomes more prominent: mevrouw and meneer are then used to express a difference in social status with the addressee being placed high(er) on the social scale. These examples feel somewhat old-fashioned. Note that the use of an article is not possible.

Example 111
a. Kan ik u helpen, mevrouw/meneer?
  can  you  help  madam/sir
  'Can I help you, maʼam/sir?'
b. Wil (*de) mevrouw/meneer misschien ook een kopje thee?
  wants    the  madam/sir  perhaps  also  a cup [of] tea
c. (*De) mevrouw/meneer komt zo.
  the  madam/sir  comes  straightaway

      Kinship nouns like grootmoeder'grandmother' in (112) can also be used in a way similar to the nouns in (109) and (111). As mevrouw/meneer in (111), these kinship nouns are never preceded by a definite determiner. Note that in all these examples the more intimate noun oma, which comes somewhat closer to a true vocative, would normally be used.

Example 112
a. (*De) grootmoeder/oma, kunt u even komen?
  the  grandmother/granny  can  you  a while  come
  'Grandmother, could you come over for a minute?'
b. Wil (*de) grootmoeder/oma misschien ook een kopje thee?
  wants    the grandmother/granny  perhaps  also  a cup [of] tea
  'Would you also like a cup of tea, grandmother?'
c. (*De) grootmoeder/oma komt zo.
  the grandmother/granny  comes  straightaway
  'Grandmother will be with you straightaway.'

      In a sense, kinship nouns can be much more freely used than the “profession” nouns in (109). In (109c), the speaker refers to a certain person by using the label the listener would normally use while addressing that person. Comparable examples containing bare kinship nouns like vader/pappa, on the other hand, are often several ways ambiguous, depending on the context. Like (109c), example (113) has a reading where vader/pappa is the “label” normally used by the listener (but not necessarily by the speaker himself) in addressing the person under discussion: this is the “your daddy” reading in (113i). In addition, it also has a reading in which the speaker uses the “label” vader/pappa to refer to himself, that is, (113ii) can be uttered by the addresseeʼs father himself. Finally, the sentence can be uttered by the person who normally uses the “label” vader/pappa to address the person under discussion: this is the “my daddy” reading in (113iii). In all three interpretations of (113) we are dealing with extended uses of bare vocatives.

Example 113
Vader/Pappa komt zo.
  father/daddy  comes  straightaway
i. 'Your daddy will be with you straightaway.'
ii. 'I, your daddy, will be with you straightaway.'
iii. 'My daddy will be with you straightaway.'

      Finally, consider the examples in (114). Since the bare noun phrases in (114) are “labels”, like dokter in (109b&c) or vader in (113), it does not seem unreasonable to bring up these examples under the general rubric of vocatives and vocative-like constructions. These bare noun phrases occur in PPs, nominal predicates and argument positions (like the subject).

Example 114
a. Dit wordt besproken in (*het) hoofdstuk vier.
  this  is  discussed  in     the  chapter four
a'. Dit is (*het) hoofdstuk vier.
  this  is    the  chapter four
b. Dat staat op (*de) bladzijde 597.
  that  stands  on     the  page 597
b'. (*De) bladzijde 597 ontbreekt.
  the  page 597  is.missing

The bare noun phrases in (114) alternate with the examples in (115) involving ordinal numerals. In these examples, the use of the definite determiner is obligatory since noun phrases containing ordinal numerals do not normally occur in the absence of a determiner.

Example 115
a. Dit wordt besproken in *(het) vierde hoofdstuk.
  this  is  discussed  in     the  fourth chapter
b. Dat staat op *(de) 597ste pagina.
  that  stands  on     the  597th page
    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
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