Logo Utrecht University

Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


8 May 2017
Trans 8, 0.19

Jacqueline van Kampen (Utrecht University)

Afrikaans directionality switch in ‘triple’ V-clusters with the auxiliary het


Afrikaans has, like Dutch, a rightward-branching V-cluster order 1-2-3 when V1 is a modal/aspectual. This contrasts with German (and Frisian) where the same selection hierarchy requires a mirror order 3-2-1.

(1)      a. omdat jy hom moet1 leer2 swem3
b. weil du ihn schwimmen3 lehren2 musst1


The directionality switches when V1 is the perfective auxiliary have. V2 is in this case an IPP (Infinitivus-pro-participio) infinitive. In Afrikaans, het selects the V2 to the left. In German, haben selects the V2 to the right.

(2)        a. omdat jy hom leer2 swem3 het1
b. weil du ihn hast1 schwimmen3 lehren2

The focus of the paper will be on the Afrikaans V-cluster in (2a), as the 2-3-1 V-cluster order is a-typical in West-Germanic languages. I will first explain how V-cluster order differences arise from category formation in early child language by an acquisition procedure that is unaware of underlying structure followed by movements.

We will see how the 2-3-1 order came to fit the Afrikaans verbal system, considering that the acquisition procedure is confronted with reduced verbal morphology and with a peculiarity of Afrikaans modals. I will argue that sentence-final het has been reinterpreted as a morphological suffix on the main verb. This leads to a simplification of the V-cluster in (2a) into a binary V-cluster. No IPP V-cluster seems to be involved. A final question is how the acquisition procedure comes to choose morphology over syntax.