On the periphery of imperative and declarative clauses in Dutch and German

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In German imperatives, topics and <i>Wh </i>-elements can optionally precede the finite verb, whereas in Dutch imperatives only left-dislocated constituents can. This paper argues that this contrast derives from a minimal morphosyntactic difference between Dutch and German. In Dutch, a null imperative operator is merged in SpecCP to check <i>u</i>Imperative on C. As a result this position is not available for topicalised material. German imperative verbs have an interpretable feature Imperative. Consequently, the imperative verb is suffi cient to check the uninterpretable <i>u</i>Imperative feature on C, and SpecCP is available for fronted material. The proposed morphosyntactic difference between the two languages is supported by the fact that German has a set of verbs with a unique imperative form, whereas Dutch does not. The situation in Middle Dutch is parallel to German in that Middle Dutch verbs have unique imperative forms and topicalisation in Middle Dutch imperative clauses is possible. The presence of a null imperative operator in SpecCP in Dutch blocks movement of D-pronouns to that position, an operation that is necessary in declaratives to make PF-deletion of the D-pronoun possible. The fact that D-pronouns related to PPs can delete in declaratives but not in imperatives supports the claim that deleted D-pronouns have moved to SpecCP in declaratives but not in imperatives. Despite this difference between declaratives and imperatives, a uniform analysis of PF-deletion of D-pronouns is developed according to which PF-deletion is possible when the D-pronoun occurs in the spec of a head with an interpretable Demonstrative feature. By assumption, C has such a feature and imperative verbs have such a feature as well, unlike indicative ones. Consequently, D-pronouns in declaratives have to move to SpecCP in order to be deletable whereas D-pronouns in imperatives can already be deleted when they are in a spec head configuration with the verb.


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