Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In an online production experiment, we investigated the effect of sentence position on the preference for either a nominative or object form of an object pronoun restricted by a relative clause in Dutch. Results show a significant preference for the nominative form of the restricted object pronoun in sentence-initial position as it was chosen in 95% of the cases. In the original object position this percentage is only 20%. The preference for a nominative pronominal object is considered a grammatical norm violation. We account for this in terms of a combination of two factors. First, the presence of the relative clause makes the object ‘long’. Second, the sentence-initial position is a syntactic position that is relatively far removed from the original object position. We argue that when a long object is topicalized, there are too many intervening elements between the pronoun and the verb of which it is the complement. If the distance between the pronominal object and the verb has become too long, the object case fades from the working memory. This then results in the appearance of nominative case as the default case for topicalized object pronominal relative clauses in Dutch.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bates, Douglas, Martin Mächler, Ben Bolker & Steve Walker
    2015 “Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4.” Journal of Statistical Software67 (1): 1–48. doi:  10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bouma, Gerlof
    2008 Starting a sentence in Dutch. A corpus study of subject- and object-fronting. PhD dissertation, University of Groningen.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Conrod, Kirby
    2019 Pronouns raising and emerging. PhD dissertation, University of Washington.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Conrod, Kirby, Rachael Tatman & Rik Koncel-Kedziorski
    2016 “We who tweet: Pronominal relative clauses on Twitter.” In: Proceedings of the Corpus Linguistics Fest: 17–21. Bloomington, Indiana. Retrieved fromceur-ws.org/Vol-1607/conrod.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Felser, Claudia, Harald Clahsen & Thomas F. Münte
    2003 “Storage and integration in the processing of filler-gap dependencies: An ERP study of topicalization and wh-movement in German.” Brain and Language87: 345–354. doi:  10.1016/S0093‑934X(03)00135‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0093-934X(03)00135-4 [Google Scholar]
  6. Hawkins, John A.
    2004Efficiency and complexity in grammars. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199252695.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199252695.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  7. Hubers, Ferdy, Tineke M. Snijders & Helen de Hoop
    2016 “How the brain processes violations of the grammatical norm: An fMRI study.” Brain & Language163: 22–31. doi:  10.1016/j.bandl.2016.08.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2016.08.006 [Google Scholar]
  8. Hubers, Ferdy, Thijs Trompenaars, Sebastiaan Collin, Kees de Schepper, Helen de Hoop
    2020 “Hypercorrection as a by-product of education.” Applied Linguistics41: 552–574. doi:  10.1093/applin/amz001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amz001 [Google Scholar]
  9. Kluender, Robert & Marta Kutas
    1993 “Bridging the gap: evidence from ERPs on the processing of unbounded dependencies.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience5 (2): 196–214. doi:  10.1162/jocn.1993.5.2.196
    https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.1993.5.2.196 [Google Scholar]
  10. Koster, Jan
    1987Domains and dynasties: The radical autonomy of syntax. Dordrecht: Foris. 10.1515/9783110808520
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110808520 [Google Scholar]
  11. van der Meulen, Marten
    2018 “Do we want more or less variation? The comparative markers als and dan in Dutch prescriptivism since 1900.” Linguistics in the Netherlands 2018: 79–96. doi:  10.1075/avt.00006.meu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/avt.00006.meu [Google Scholar]
  12. de Vries, Mark
    2004 “Congruentie-effecten in uitbreidende en vrije relatieve zinnen.” Nederlandse Taalkunde9: 29–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. 2006 “The syntax of appositive relativization: On specifying coordination, false free relatives, and promotion.” Linguistic Inquiry37: 229–270. doi:  10.1162/ling.2006.37.2.229
    https://doi.org/10.1162/ling.2006.37.2.229 [Google Scholar]
  14. Zwart, C. Jan-Wouter
    1988 The first Case: the nominative as a default Case and consequences for control theory. MA-thesis, University of Groningen.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error