Linguistics in the Netherlands 2015
  • ISSN 0929-7332
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9919


This paper provides a novel syntactic analysis of the Dutch prefix be-. This prefix can derive new verbs by attaching to verbs (be-vindV-en ‘to be located’), nouns (be-dijkN-en ‘to dam up’) or adjectives (be-grootA-en ‘to economize’). It can also form new adpositions by combining with adjectives (be-needA-en, ‘below’) or prepositions (be-ove(r)P-(e)n ‘above’). We propose an analysis of be- based on Aboh’s (2010) account for complex locative expressions in typologically different languages, including Gungbe, Zina Kotoko, English and Dutch. We extend this analysis to Dutch verbal complexes, and argue that be- expresses a functional category (F°) that embeds a predicate phrase containing the element it attaches to, in both adpositions and verbs. Our analysis goes against Hoekstra, Lansu and Westerduin’s (1987) small clause account of be- in verbal complexes in which be- is the head of a predicate phrase (Pr°).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Dutch prefixes; morphology; predication; syntax
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