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4.1.2.Non-quantificational constructions: een soort boek'a kind of book'

Example (158) shows that binominal phrases need not be quantificational. These non-quantificational examples typically involve the noun soort. As in Section 4.1.1, we will refer to the first noun (soort) as N1, and to the second noun as N2.

a. deze/die soort aap/apen
  this/that species [of]  monkey/monkeys
b. dit/dat soort auto/autoʼs
  this/that kind [of]  car/cars
c. een soort appel/appels
  a kind [of]  apple/apples
  'an apple-like thing/apple-like things'

We will see in this section that the three uses of soort in (158) differ in certain respects: in (158a), the noun soort is clearly used as a referential expression and the binominal construction refers to a contextually determined species of monkey. This is less clear in the other two uses: example (158b) has a type reading in the sense that it refers to a set of cars that resemble a certain car/certain cars that is/are under discussion; example (158c) does not refer to an apple/apples but to an entity/entities that resemble an apple in a certain way. That the constructions in (158) differ from the quantificational constructions discussed in Section 4.1.1 is clear from the fact that N2 may be a singular noun (whereas N2 in the QC must be a plural or a non-count noun).
      The referential noun soort in (158a) seems to be part of a larger paradigm that includes more or less synonymous expressions like type'type', model'type/model' and merk'brand'. Schermer-Vermeer (2008) has shown that the use of this construction has been on the rise over the last century, and that a growing set of nouns may enter this construction: examples that occur frequently in the Corpus Gesproken Nederlands are formaat'size', genre'type', kaliber'caliber/size', kleur'color', kwaliteit'quality', maat'size', slag'sort', but there are many more incidental cases; some examples involving these nouns are given in (159).

a. die kleur behang
  that  color  wallpaper
b. deze kwaliteit stof
  this  quality  fabrics
c. deze maat schoen/schoenen
  this  size  shoe/shoes

In the following subsections, we will focus on the examples with the noun soort, and show how the three constructions in (158) differ. Where possible we will show that the examples in (159) behave more or less like the noun soort in (158a).

[+]  I.  Gender (demonstratives)

That we are dealing with three different, but homophonous, nouns in (158) is not only clear from the meaning differences between the three constructions but also from the fact that the nouns have different genders. Consider again the examples in (158a&b): the noun soort'species' in (158a) is non-neuter, which is clear from the fact that it takes the non-neuter demonstratives deze/die'this/that': deze/die soort aap/apen'this/that species of monkey/monkeys'. The noun soort'kind of' in (158b), on the other hand, is neuter, which is clear from the fact that it takes the neuter demonstratives dit/dat'this/that': dit/dat soort auto/autoʼs. It is difficult to determine the gender of the noun soort'N-like entity' in (158c) given that it differs from the other two nouns in not allowing these definite demonstratives at all.
      It can further be noted that the non-neuter noun soort'species' imposes gender restrictions on N2; it can be followed by singular, non-neuter nouns like aap'monkey' but not by singular, neuter nouns like paard'horse'. The neuter noun soort'kind of' does not impose similar restrictions on N2, which can therefore be both neuter and non-neuter. The third use of soort is also compatible with both neuter and non-neuter N2s.

a. *? deze/die[-neuter] soort[-neuter] paard[+neuter]
  this/that  species [of]  horse
b. dit/dat[+neuter] soort[+neuter] hond[-neuter]
  this/that  kind [of]  dog
c. een soort paard/hond
  a kind [of]  horse/dog
  'a dog/horse-like animal'

Non-neuter N1s like kleur'color' and maat'size' in the primeless examples in (161) often behave like the non-neuter noun soort'species' in not allowing neuter N2s. Neuter nouns like formaat'size', genre'type' in the primed examples do not impose a similar restriction on N2; cf. Schermer-Vermeer (2008). It seems, however, that the status of mixed cases with non-neuter N1s and neuter N2s also depends on the choice of N2: an example such as die kleur hemd in (161a) is much more degraded than die kleur behang'that color of wallpaper' in (159a), which also involves a neuter N2 but can actually be found on the internet.

a. ?? deze/die kleur[-neuter] hemd[+neuter]
  this/that  color [of]  shirt
a'. dit/dat formaat[+neuter] boek[-neuter]
  this/that  size [of]  book
b. ?? deze/die maat[-neuter] hemd[+neuter]
  this/that  size [of]  shirt
b'. dit/dat genre[+neuter] lezer[-neuter]
  this that  type [of]  reader
[+]  II.  Compounding

Another conspicuous difference between the examples in (158) is that the non-neuter noun soort'species' in (158a) can appear as the second member of a compound with a similar kind of meaning, whereas this is completely impossible with the N1soort'N-like entity' in (158c); the compound appelsoort in (162c) is of course acceptable but only as the counterpart of the binominal construction dat soort apple'that species of apple'. Example (162b) further shows that the result with the neuter N1soort'kind of' in (158b) is somewhat marginal; furthermore it seems hard to interpret this compound with the “resemblance” reading typical of this noun.

a. de apensoort
  'the species of monkeys'
b. ? het autosoort
  'the kind of car'
c. .# een appelsoort

The examples in (163) show that nouns like kleur'color', kwaliteit'quality' and maat'size' behave just like the non-neuter noun soort'species'. All these examples occur frequently on the internet.

a. die behangkleur
  'that color of wall paper'
b. deze stofkwaliteit
  'that quality of fabric'
c. deze schoenmaat
  'that size of shoe'
[+]  III.  Pluralization

The noun soort'N-like entity' also differs from the other two nouns in that it does not allow plural formation: example (164c) is acceptable but only under the same kind of reading as (164a) or (164b); it does not have the interpretation “two apple-like thngs”. The plural examples in (164a) and (164b) impose different selection restrictions on N2: N2 must be plural in the former, but can be singular in the latter.

a. twee soorten apen/#aap
  two  species [of]  monkeys/monkey
b. twee soorten auto/autoʼs
  two  kinds [of]  car/cars
c. # twee soorten appel/appels
  two  kinds [of]  apple/apples

      A caveat is in order here, however. For convenience, we have translated the non-neuter noun soort'species' in (158a) by means of the English noun species. This translation may actually be too narrow, since it may also be combined with N2s like postzegels'stamps' and substance nouns like koffie'coffee'.

a. deze/die soort postzegels
  this/that  kind [of]  stamps
b. deze/die soort koffie
  this/that  kind [of]  coffee

This may raise the question as to whether we are really dealing with the plural form of the neuter noun soort'kind of' in (164b); it may actually involve the plural form of the non-neuter noun. A reason for assuming this is that the neuter noun cannot be modified by means of a quantifier like elk'each'. Since nouns that have a plural form generally do allow modification by elk'each', the ungrammaticality of (166b) casts some doubt on the assumption that we are dealing with the plural form of the neuter noun soort in (164b). We leave this for future research.

a. elke[-neuter] soort aap
  each  kind [of]  monkey
b. * elk[+neuter] soort auto
  each  kind [of]  car

      It is hard to determine whether nouns like kleur'color', kwaliteit'quality' and maat'size' behave like the non-neuter noun soort'species' with respect to pluralization; the examples in (167) show that the plural form kleuren can readily be followed by a substance noun, but not by a count noun. We leave establishing the precise status of examples such as (167) to future research as well.

a. drie kleuren behang
  three  colors  wallpaper
b. drie kleuren ?trui/*truien
  the  colors  sweater/sweaters
[+]  IV.  Articles

The constructions in (158) are similar in that they normally do not allow a definite determiner. However, this restriction is relaxed in the case of (158a&b), if the construction is modified by a relative clause. The binominal construction in (168c) is acceptable but only under a reading comparable to (168a) or (168b). Example (169) shows that a noun like kleur behaves like the non-neuter noun soort'species' in this respect.

a. de soort vogels *(die Jan bestudeert)
  the species [of]  birds     that Jan studies
b. het soort auto *(dat Jan graag wil bezitten)
  the kind [of]  car     that  Jan gladly  wants  possess
  'the kind of car that Jan wants to have'
c. # het/de soort appel (dat/die Jan lekker vindt)
  the kind [of]  apple   that  Jan tasty  considers
de kleur behang *(die ik zoek) is niet verkrijgbaar
  the  color  wallpaper    that  look.for  is not available

      Attributive adjectives can license the indefinite determiner een on the nouns soort'species' and soort'kind' but only if they precede N1. This is shown in (170); the primed examples are only acceptable under the “of a sort” reading (that is, (170a') can be interpreted as “a beautiful monkey of a sort”), in which case an indefinite article must be present. The examples in (171) show again that a noun like kleur behaves like the non-neuter noun soort'species' in this respect.

a. een mooie soort aap
  beautiful  species [of]  monkey
a'. # een soort mooie aap
b. (?) een duur soort auto
  an  expensive  kind [of]  car
b'. # een soort dure auto

a. een mooie kleur behang
  beautiful  color  wallpaper
b. * een kleur mooi behang
[+]  V.  Insertion of van'of' and attributive modification

Another difference involves the insertion of the preposition van'of' between N1 and N2. The examples in (172) show that this is easily possible in examples such as (158c). Examples such as (172a) sound somewhat marginal. They can be found on the internet but the number of cases is relatively small: A Google search (12/1/2012) on the string [deze soort van] resulted in about 340 hits, many of which did not instantiate the relevant construction. Judgments on examples such as (172b) vary among speakers, but examples of this construction do occur frequently in informal spoken Dutch and can readily be found on the internet; a second Google search on the string [dit soort van] resulted in 354 hits, and a cursory look at the results revealed that most cases instantiated the relevant construction.

a. ?? deze soort van aap
  that  species  of monkey
b. % dit soort van auto
  this  kind  of car
c. een soort van appel
  kind  of apple
  'an apple-like thing'

The examples in (173) with the indefinite article eenare all are acceptable but only on a reading similar to (172c). Note that addition of an attributive adjective triggers a more referential reading of the noun soort, which makes the example unacceptable.

a. een #(*mooie) soort van aap
    beautiful  species  of monkey
b. een #(*duur) soort van autoʼs
  an  expensive  kind  of cars
c. een (*lekkere) soort van appel
     tasty  kind  of apple
  'an apple-like thing'

The examples in (174) show that with nouns like kleur'color', kwaliteit'quality' and maat'size', insertion of van gives rise to an unacceptable result. These nouns therefore seem to pattern again with the non-neuter noun soort'species'.

a. * die kleur van behang
  that  color  of  wallpaper
b. * deze kwaliteit van stof
  this  quality  of  fabrics
c. * deze maat van schoen/schoenen
  this  size  of  schoe/shoes
[+]  VI.  The syntactic status of N2 (number agreement)

The constructions in (158) also differ with respect to the question what the syntactic head of the construction is. Example (175a) is only fully acceptable if the non-neuter noun soort'species' triggers agreement on the finite verb, which must therefore be considered the syntactic head of the construction. In (175b), on the other hand, agreement can be triggered either by N1 or by N2, which shows that either of the two nouns can act as the syntactic head of the construction. With the noun soort'N-like entity', it is always N2 that functions as the syntactic head of the construction that triggers agreement.

a. Deze/die soort vogels is/*?zijn moeilijk te oberveren.
  this/that species [of]  birds  is/are  hard  to observe
b. Dit/dat soort vragen is/zijn moeilijk te beantwoorden.
  this/that kind [of]  questions  is/are  hard  to answer
c. Er liggen/*ligt een soort appels op de tafel.
  there  lie/lies  a kind [of]  apples  on the table

Note, however, that if the neuter noun soort'kind of' is preceded by the definite article and functions as the antecedent of a relative clause, agreement of N2 and the verb in the matrix clause gives rise to a degraded result. If the relative pronoun takes N2 as its antecedent, as in (176b), agreement between N2 and the finite verb becomes perhaps slightly better, but the result is still marked.

a. Het soorti vragen dati jij stelt is/*?zijn moeilijk te beantwoorden.
  this kind [of] questions  that you ask  is/are  hard  to answer
b. Het soort vrageni diei jij stelt is/??zijn moeilijk te beantwoorden.
  this kind [of] questions  that you ask  is/are  hard  to answer

      The nouns type and model in (177a&b) do not allow N2 to trigger agreement on the verb, which suggests that they fall into the same category as the non-neuter noun soort'species'; however, giving judgments is somewhat complicated by the fact that model does not readily take a plural N2, and that the noun type is also more common with a singular N2. Nouns like kleur'color' also require that N1 triggers agreement on the verb.

a. Dit type autoʼs rijdt/*rijden snel.
  this  type [of]  cars  drives/drive  fast
b. Dit model autoʼs is/*zijn erg geliefd.
  this  model [of]  cars  is/are  very popular
c. Deze kleur bloemen is/*zijn erg mooi.
  this color  flowers  is/are  very beautiful
[+]  VII.  The semantic status of N2

The examples in (178) show that, as in the QCs, N2 may act as the semantic head of all binominal soort-constructions. The requirement that the verb verzamelen takes a plural count noun or a substance noun as its direct object is satisfied by N2; if N2 is a singular count noun, the result is ungrammatical.

a. Jan verzamelt deze soort postzegels/*postzegel/wijn.
  Jan collects  this kind [of]  stamps/stamp/wine
b. Jan verzamelt dit soort postzegels/*postzegel/wijn.
  Jan collects  this kind [of]  stamps/stamp/wine
c. Jan verzamelt een soort postzegels/*postzegel/wijn.
  Jan collects  a kind [of]  stamps/stamp/wine
[+]  VIII.  Conclusion

This section has discussed some of the properties of the non-quantificational constructions in (158), and it has been shown that the three homophonous forms are different in various respects. Since these forms have not been investigated systematically in the literature, future research on the three constructions in question will undoubtedly reveal more systematic differences. Furthermore, this section has shown that the behavior of the other nouns that may enter the non-quantificational construction is similar to that of the non-neuter noun soort'species' in (158a).

  • Schermer-Vermeer, Ina2008De <i>soort</i>-constructie. Een nieuw patroon in het NederlandsNederlandse Taalkunde132-33
  • Schermer-Vermeer, Ina2008De <i>soort</i>-constructie. Een nieuw patroon in het NederlandsNederlandse Taalkunde132-33
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