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2.3. Clausal complements

This section is concerned with clausal complements, that is, with those clausal elements within the noun phrase that are required by the semantics of the nominal head. Clausal complements typically occur with nouns that can be said to denote abstract content. These nouns can be derived from a verb, like mededeling'announcement' and vraag'question' in (616a&b), but may also be basic, like risico'risk' in (616c).

a. [De mededeling [dat Jan zou komen]] kwam onverwacht.
  the announcement  comp  Jan would  come  came  unexpectedly
b. [De vraag [of/waarom Jan het geld gestolen had]] kwam onverwacht.
  the question  whether/why  Jan the money  stolen had  came unexpectedly
c. Wij lopen [het risico dat we gepakt worden]].
  we  run  the risk  that we  caught  are
  'We run the risk that weʼll be caught.'

The examples in (617) show that complement clauses can be finite or infinitival, depending on the selectional properties of the noun. Section 2.3.1 and 2.3.2 will discuss these two types of clausal complement in detail.

a. [Het idee [dat hij direct zou vertrekken]] stond ons wel aan.
  the idea  that  he directly  would  leave  attracted  us  prt  prt.
  'We quite liked the idea that he would leave immediately.'
b. [Het idee [om direct te vertrekken]] sprak ons wel aan.
  the idea  comp  immediately  to leave  attracted  us  prt  prt.
  'We quite liked the idea of leaving immediately.'

Complement clauses may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from relative clauses. Confusion may arise due to the fact that both types of clause can be introduced by what we may neutrally refer to as the “linker” dat: in complement clauses like (618a) the linker is the complementizer, and in relative clauses like (618b) it is the singular neuter relative pronoun. Section 2.3.3 will show how we can properly distinguish the two types of clause.

a. [Het feit [datcompl. de aarde rond is]], werd door niemand betwist.
  the fact  that  the earth  round  is  was  by no.one  contested
  'The fact that the earth was round was contested by no one.'
b. [Het feit [datRel. door niemand betwist werd]], is dat de aarde rond is.
  the fact  that  by no.one  contested was  is that  the earth  round  is
  'The fact that was contested by no one is that the earth is round.'
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