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Syntax Interface Lectures Utrecht


9 October 2017

Cora Pots (KU Leuven)

Te wel of niet (te) hoeven (te) plaatsen:  

Variation in te-placement in Dutch non-finite verb clusters


The morphosyntactic variation in Dutch finite verb clusters has been studied extensively (Barbiers et al. 2005; Wurmbrand 2017), in contrast to their non-finite counterparts. This talk focuses on regiolectal variation in verb clusters consisting entirely of non-finite verbs, and in which the infinitival marker te ‘to’ is required to appear based on selection requirements. I conducted a large-scale questionnaire study of three types of non-finite three-verb clusters, in which selection requirements dictate te should appear on V1 (te-V1-V2-V3) on V2 (V1-te-V2-V3; cf. (1)), and on V3 (V1-V2-te-V3). The data show that there is variation among speakers regarding the presence/absence of te and the placement of te. That is, there are speakers who: (i) allow or need te to be absent, contrary to selection requirements, (ii) allow or need te to be raised, i.e. to appear on a higher verb in the cluster than is required by selection requirements, and (iii) allow te to be doubled, i.e. to appear twice, when only one te is required.


(1) Koen zal    vandaag  niet [ (te)  hoeven1   (te)   gaan2   voetballen3 ].

Koen will   today      not      to    need.INF to     go.INF  play.football.INF

‘Koen won’t have to go play football today.’


In (1), the highest verb within the non-finite verb cluster, hoeven ‘need’, selects a te-infinitive: selection requirements thus dictate te to appear on V2 gaan ‘go’. However, the data show that te can be either completely absent (te-drop), appear on V1 instead of V2 (te-raising), or appear on both (te-doubling).

I analyze Dutch non-finite verb clusters are cases of functional restructuring (Wurmbrand 2001; IJbema 2001; Ter Beek 2008). I argue that variation in te-drop is due to differences in structural complement size of the verb selecting the te-infinitive. Furthermore, I argue that te-raising is a case of clitic climbing, a well-known restructuring phenomenon of other restructuring languages such as Italian (Rizzi 1982; Cinque 2001). Te-doubling is analyzed as spell-out of both copies of raised te. By showing that clitic climbing is also attested in Dutch non-finite verb clusters, this talk fills a previously unexplained gap in the cross-linguistic distribution of restructuring phenomena across Germanic and Romance.