Adjunction and filler

Frank Van Eynde frank at
Thu Jan 31 05:51:29 EST 2002

Hello T,

> Some tentative remarks: The interesting point is that you *cannot* adjoin to
> a head filler phrase in German (i.e. to a verb-second clause). But you can
> adjoin to head filler phrases in English and French.
> Neither English nor French is a V2 language.
> (Dutch people, what do you think?)

Being a native speaker of Dutch I cannot escape my respons-ibility
here. So here is a response.

In V2 clauses Dutch allows only one constituent before the
finite verb; as a matter of fact, this is what being V2 is all about.

Still, it is not impossible to adjoin another phrase. Some

(1)  Wat hij ook doet, de zaak blijft duister.
     what he also does, the issue remains obscure
     `whatever he does, the issue remains obscure'

(2)  Echt waar, ik geloof je niet.
     real true, I believe you not
     `honestly, I do not believe you'

(3)  Als het toch zo dringend is, waarom begin je dan niet meteen?
     if it yet so urgent is, why begin you then not right-away
     `if it is really so urgent, then why don't you start rightaway?'

Prosodically, these phrases are rather loosely linked with the
V2 clause (the commas signal intonational breaks here), but
semantically they are part of it, and in (3) there is also a
clear syntactic link between the 'als' clause and the 'dan' in the
V2 clause.

Since constructions like (1-3) are quite common,
I'd prefer a grammar which does not predict that they are ill-formed.

Friendly greetings,

Van Eynde

> If this seems to be the right lead, we can perhaps derive a fundamental but
> quite abstract syntactic difference between English/French and German: while
> the latter language has clauses of category CP, English and French
> wh-constructions are basically projections of V.
> So we could argue that Subject-Auxiliary-Inversion in English is actually
> the result of schema 3, but that an apparently similar clause in German
> should not be derived in the same way (this goes against 'head
> non-movement').
> T.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Prof. Dr. Tibor Kiss -- Sprachwissenschaftliches Institut
> Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum, D-44780 Bochum
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