Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Presentational constructions are linguistic structures that can convey all-focus utterances with no topic constituent that serve to introduce a referentially new entity or event into the discourse. Like many other languages, Dutch has several presentational constructions, including a Prosodic Inversion Construction (PIC), a Syntactic Inversion with Filler Insertion Construction (SIFIC) and a Non-Prototypical Cleft Construction (NPC). This article investigates these structures as alternating presentational constructions and focuses on referential givenness as a possible factor influencing the alternation. Based on a data elicitation task, referential givenness is shown to play a role in the choice of alternant. The PIC is predominantly used with unused/inactive and accessible Mental Representations of Referents (MRRs), but it can also contain brand-new MRRs. The NPC is exclusively used with brand-new MRRs. The SIFIC is used mostly with brand-new MRRs, but it can also contain accessible MRRs, in particular in positions other than the syntactic subject. The data elicitation task yielded a number of additional Dutch linguistic structures that could also be considered presentational constructions, including a construction with a perception verb used in a weak verb-like fashion and a construction with an existential sentence combined with a coordinated canonical topic-comment clause.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Abbott, Barbara
    2000 “Presuppositions as Nonassertions.” Journal of Pragmatics32: 1419–1437. doi:  10.1016/S0378‑2166(99)00108‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00108-3 [Google Scholar]
  2. Abbot, Barbara
    2008 “Presuppositions and Common Ground.” Linguistics and Philosophy31: 523–538. doi:  10.1007/s10988‑008‑9048‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-008-9048-8 [Google Scholar]
  3. Ariel, Mira
    1990Accessing NP Antecedents. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 2010Defining Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:  10.1017/CBO9780511777912
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511777912 [Google Scholar]
  5. Arnold, Jennifer
    2008 “Reference Production: Production-internal and Addressee-oriented Processes.” Language and Cognitive Processes23: 495–527. doi:  10.1080/01690960801920099
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01690960801920099 [Google Scholar]
  6. Atlas, David
    2005Logic, Meaning, and Conversation : Semantical Underdeterminancy, Implicature, and Their Interface. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:  10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195133004.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195133004.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  7. Barbier, Isabella
    1996 “On the Syntax of Dutch er.” InGermanic Linguistics Syntactic and Diacronic, ed. byRosina Lippi-Green, and Joseph Salmons, 65–84. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi:  10.1075/cilt.137.05bar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.137.05bar [Google Scholar]
  8. Bech, Gunnar
    1952 “Über das niederländische Adverbialpronomen er”. Travaux du cercle linguistique de Copenhague8: 5–32. doi:  10.1080/01050206.1952.10411218
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01050206.1952.10411218 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bennis, Hans
    1980 “Er-deletion in a Modular Grammar.” Linguistics in the Netherlands: 58–69.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. 1986Gaps and Dummies. Dordrecht: ICG Printing.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Bentley, Delia, Francesco Maria Ciconte, and Silvio Cruschina
    2015Existentials and Locatives in Romance Dialects of Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:  10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745266.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745266.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  12. Birner, Betty J., and Gregory Ward
    1996 “A Crosslinguistic Study of Postposing in Discourse.” Language and Speech39: 113–142. doi:  10.1177/002383099603900302
    https://doi.org/10.1177/002383099603900302 [Google Scholar]
  13. 1998Information Status and Noncanonical Word Order in English. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi:  10.1075/slcs.40
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.40 [Google Scholar]
  14. Boersma, Paul and Weenink, David
    2018 Praat: Doing Phonetics by Computer [Computer Program] Version 6.0.39, retrieved3 April 2018fromwww.praat.org/
  15. Bouma, Gosse
    2000 “Argument Realization and Dutch R-Pronouns: Solving Bech’s Problem without Movement or Deletion”. InGrammatical Interfaces in Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar, ed. byRonnie Cann, Claire Grover and Philip Miller, 1–25. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Carston, Robyn
    2008 “Linguistic Communication and the Semantics/pragmatics Distinction.” Synthese165: 321–345. doi:  10.1007/s11229‑007‑9191‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-007-9191-8 [Google Scholar]
  17. Chafe, Wallace
    1976 “Givenness, Contrastiveness, Definiteness, Subjects, Topics, and Point of View”. InSubject and Topic, ed. byCharles Li, 25–55. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. 1994Discourse, Consciousness, and Time: The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Coene, Ann, and Klaas Willems
    2006 “Konstruktionelle Bedeutungen: Kritische Anmerkungen zu Adele Goldbergs Konstruktionsgrammatischer Bedeutungstheorie.” Sprachtheorie Und Germanistische Linguistik16: 1–35.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Coseriu, Eugenio
    1985 “Linguistic Competence: What is it Really?” The Modern Language Review80: xxv–xxxv. doi:  10.2307/3729050
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3729050 [Google Scholar]
  21. 2000 [1990] “Structural Semantics and ‘Cognitive’ Semantics.” Logos and Language: 19–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Croft, William
    2007 “Construction Grammar”. InThe Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, ed. byDirk Geeraerts and Hubert Cuyckens, 463–508. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Davidse, Kristin
    2014 “Constructionele semantiek en pragmatiek in de analyse van gekloofde zinnen.” InPatroon en argument. Een dubbelfeestbundel bij het emeritaat van William Van Belle en Joop van der Horst, ed. byFreek Van de Velde and Hans Smessaert. 593–607. Leuven: Universitaire Pers. doi:  10.2307/j.ctt14jxsr0.43
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt14jxsr0.43 [Google Scholar]
  24. Diver, William
    1995 “Theory”. InMeaning as Explanation: Advances in Linguistic Sign Theory, ed. byEllen Contini-Morava and Barbara Goldberg, 43–114. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. doi:  10.1515/9783110907575.43
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110907575.43 [Google Scholar]
  25. Dryer, Matthew S.
    1996 “Focus, Pragmatic Presupposition, and Activated Propositions.” Journal of Pragmatics26: 475–523. doi:  10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00059‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00059-3 [Google Scholar]
  26. Elffers, Els
    1977 “Er-verkenningen” Spektator6: 417–422.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Erteschik-Shir, Nomi
    2007Information Structure: The Syntax-Discourse Interface. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Féry, Caroline
    2008 “Information Structural Notions and the Fallacy of Invariant Correlates.” Acta Linguistica Hungarica55: 361–379. doi:  10.1556/ALing.55.2008.3‑4.10
    https://doi.org/10.1556/ALing.55.2008.3-4.10 [Google Scholar]
  29. Fillmore, Charles J.
    1988 “The Mechanisms of Construction Grammar.” Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol.14: 35–55. doi:  10.3765/bls.v14i0.1794
    https://doi.org/10.3765/bls.v14i0.1794 [Google Scholar]
  30. Fillmore, Charles J., Paul Kay, and Mary Catherine O’connor
    1988 “Regularity and Idiomaticity in Grammatical Constructions: The case of let alone.” Language: 501–538. doi:  10.2307/414531
    https://doi.org/10.2307/414531 [Google Scholar]
  31. Frisson, Steven
    2009 “Semantic Underspecification in Language Processing.” Language and Linguistics Compass3: 111–127. doi:  10.1111/j.1749‑818X.2008.00104.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00104.x [Google Scholar]
  32. 2015 “About Bound and Scary Books: The Processing of Book Polysemies.” Lingua157: 17–35. doi:  10.1016/j.lingua.2014.07.017
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2014.07.017 [Google Scholar]
  33. Geeraerts, Dirk
    2010Theories of Lexical Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Goldberg, Adele
    1995Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. 2003 “Constructions: A new theoretical approach to language.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences7: 219–224. doi:  10.1016/S1364‑6613(03)00080‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(03)00080-9 [Google Scholar]
  36. 2006Constructions at Work: The Nature of Generalization in Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Grice, Paul
    1989Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Gries, Stefan, and Anatol Stefanowitsch
    2004 “Extending Collostructional Analysis: A Corpus-based Perspective on Alternations.” International Journal of Corpus Linguistics9: 97–129. doi:  10.1075/ijcl.9.1.06gri
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.9.1.06gri [Google Scholar]
  39. Grondelaers, Stefan
    2000 De distributie van niet-anaforisch er buiten de eerste zinplaats. (Doctoral Dissertation, KU Leuven).
  40. 2009 “Woordvolgorde in presentatieve zinnen en de theoretische basis van multifactoriële grammatica.” Nederlandse Taalkunde14: 282–312. doi:  10.5117/NEDTAA2009.3.DISC407
    https://doi.org/10.5117/NEDTAA2009.3.DISC407 [Google Scholar]
  41. Grondelaers, Stefan, and Dirk Speelman
    2007 “A Variationist Account of Constituent Ordering in Presentative Sentences in Belgian Dutch.” Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory3: 161–193. doi:  10.1515/CLLT.2007.010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/CLLT.2007.010 [Google Scholar]
  42. Grondelaers, Stefan, Marc Brysbaert, Dirk Speelman, and Dirk Geeraerts
    2002 “Er als accessibility marker: on- en offline evidentie voor een procedurele duiding van presentatieve zinnen.” Gramma/TTT9: 1–22.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Grondelaers, Stefan, Dirk Speelman, Denis Drieghe, Marc Brysbaert, and Dirk Geeraerts
    2009 “Introducing a New Entity into Discourse: Comprehension and Production Evidence for the Status of Dutch Er ‘there’ as a Higher-Level Expectancy Monitor.” Acta Psychologica130: 153–160. doi:  10.1016/j.actpsy.2008.11.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2008.11.003 [Google Scholar]
  44. Gundel, Jeanette K.
    1988 [1974]The Role of Topic and Comment in Linguistic Theory. New York: Garland Publishing Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. 1999 “Topic, Focus, and the Grammar-Pragmatics Interface.” University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics6: 1–16.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. 2003 “Information Structure and Referential Givenness/Newness: How Much Belongs in the Grammar?” Journal of Cognitive Science4: 177–199.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Gundel, Jeanette K., and Thorstein Fretheim
    2004 “Topic and Focus.” InThe Handbook of Pragmatics, ed. byLawrence Horn, and Gregory Ward, 175–196. Malden: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg, and Ron Zacharski
    1993 “Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse.” Language69:274–307. doi:  10.2307/416535
    https://doi.org/10.2307/416535 [Google Scholar]
  49. Haberland, Hartmut
    1994 “Thetic/Categorical distinction”. InThe Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics9, ed. byRonald E. Asher and J. M. Y. Simpson, 4605–4606. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Haeseryn, Walter, Kirstin Romijn, Guido Geerts, Jaap de Rooij and Maarten Cornelis van den Toorn
    1997Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst. Groningen/Deurne: Martinus Nijhoff uitgevers/Wolters Plantyn.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Hetzron, Robert
    1975 “The Presentative Movement or Why the Ideal Word Order is VSOP”. InWord order and Word Order Change, ed. byCharles Li, 345–388. Austin: University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Karssenberg, Lena
    2016 “French il y a Clefts, Existential Sentences and the Focus-Marking Hypothesis.” Journal of French Language Studies27: 405–430. doi:  10.1017/S0959269516000296
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959269516000296 [Google Scholar]
  53. Karssenberg, Lena, Stefania Marzo, Karen Lahousse, and Daniela Gugliemo
    2018 “There’s more to Italian c’è Clefts than Expressing All-focus.” Italian Journal of Linguistics29 (2): 57–86.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Kirsner, Robert S.
    1979The Problem of Presentative Sentences In Modern Dutch. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Kraak, Albert
    1966Negatieve zinnen. Amsterdam: W. de Haan.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Krifka, Manfred
    2008 “Basic Notions of Information Structure.” Acta Linguistica Hungarica55: 243–276. doi:  10.1556/ALing.55.2008.3‑4.2
    https://doi.org/10.1556/ALing.55.2008.3-4.2 [Google Scholar]
  57. Kuno, Susumu
    1972 “Functional Sentence Perspective: a Case Study from Japanese and English.” Linguistic Inquiry3: 269–320.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Kuroda, Sige-Yuki
    1972 “The Categorical and the Thetic Judgment. Evidence from Japanese syntax.” Foundations of language9: 153–185.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Lambrecht, Knud
    1987 “Sentence Focus, Information Structure, and the Thetic-Categorical Distinction.” Berkeley Linguistics Society13: 366–382. doi:  10.3765/bls.v13i0.1800
    https://doi.org/10.3765/bls.v13i0.1800 [Google Scholar]
  60. 1994Information Structure and Sentence Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:  10.1017/CBO9780511620607
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620607 [Google Scholar]
  61. 2000a “When Subjects Behave Like Objects.” Studies in Language24: 611–682. doi:  10.1075/sl.24.3.06lam
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.24.3.06lam [Google Scholar]
  62. 2000b “Prédication Seconde et Structure Informationelle: la relative de perception come construction présentative.” Langue Française127: 49–66. doi:  10.3406/lfr.2000.998
    https://doi.org/10.3406/lfr.2000.998 [Google Scholar]
  63. 2001 “A Framework for the Analysis of Cleft Constructions.” Linguistics39: 463–516. doi:  10.1515/ling.2001.021
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2001.021 [Google Scholar]
  64. Lambrecht, Knud, and Maria Polinsky
    1997 “Typological Variation in Sentence-Focus Constructions.” Cls33: 189–206.
    [Google Scholar]
  65. Langacker, Ronald
    2007 “Cognitive Grammar.” InThe Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, ed. byDirk Geeraerts and Hubert Cuyckens, 421–462. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Leino, Jaakko
    2013 “Information Structure”. InThe Oxford Handbook of Construction Grammar, ed. byThomas Hoffmann and Graeme Trousdale, 329–345. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Levinson, Stephen C.
    2000Presumptive Meanings: The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/5526.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/5526.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  68. Marty, Anton
    1918Gesammelte Schriften. Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Matić, Dejan
    2003 Topics, Presuppositions, and Theticity: An Empirical Study of Verb-Subject Clauses. (Doctoral Dissertation, Universität zu Köln).
  70. Matić, Dejan, and Daniel Wedgwood
    2013 “The Meanings of Focus: The Significance of an Interpretation-Based Category in Cross-Linguistic Analysis.” Journal of Linguistics49: 127–163. doi:  10.1017/S0022226712000345
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226712000345 [Google Scholar]
  71. Nuyts, Jan
    2007 “Cognitive Linguistics and Functional Linguistics.” InThe Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, ed. byDirk Geeraerts and Hubert Cuyckens. 543–565. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  72. Prince, Ellen
    1992 “The ZPG letter: Subjects, definiteness, and information-status.” Discourse Description: Diverse Analyses of a Fund Raising Text: 295–325. doi:  10.1075/pbns.16.12pri
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.16.12pri [Google Scholar]
  73. Rosengren, Inger
    1997 “The Thetic / Categorical Distinction Revisited Once More.” Linguistics35: 439–479. doi:  10.1515/ling.1997.35.3.439
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1997.35.3.439 [Google Scholar]
  74. Sasse, Hans-Jürgen
    1987 “The Thetic / Categorical Distinction Revisited.” Linguistics25: 511–580. doi:  10.1515/ling.1987.25.3.511
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.1987.25.3.511 [Google Scholar]
  75. 1995 “‘Theticity’ and VS Order: a Case Study.” InVerb-subject order and theticity in European languages, ed. byYaron Matras and Hans-Jürgen Sasse, 3–31. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.
    [Google Scholar]
  76. 2006 “Theticity” InPragmatic Organization of Discourse in the Languages of Europe, ed. byGiuliano Bernini and Marcia L. Schwartz, 255–308. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter. doi:  10.1515/9783110892222.255
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110892222.255 [Google Scholar]
  77. Schermer-Vermeer, Ina
    1980 “De verantwoording van de relatie tussen pseudocleft-zinnen en hun niet-gekloofde pendanten, en de plaats daarvan in de taalbeschrijving.” Spektator9: 191–207.
    [Google Scholar]
  78. 1985 “De onthullende status van er in de generatieve grammatica.” Spektator15: 65–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  79. 1987 “Er in de ANS.” Forum der Letteren: 120–125.
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Sperber, Dan, and Deidre Wilson
    1986Relevance : Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  81. Stalnaker, Robert
    1973 “Presuppositions.” Journal of Philosophical Logic2: 447–457. doi:  10.1007/BF00262951
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00262951 [Google Scholar]
  82. 1999Context and Content. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:  10.1093/0198237073.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/0198237073.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  83. 2002 “Common Ground.” Linguistics and Philosophy25: 701–721. doi:  10.1023/A:1020867916902
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020867916902 [Google Scholar]
  84. Taylor, John
    2012The Mental Corpus. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:  10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199290802.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199290802.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  85. Ulrich, Miorita
    1985Thetisch Und Kategorisch: Funktionen Der Anordnung Von Satzkonstituenten : Am Beispiel Des Rumänischen Und Anderer Sprachen. Tübingen: Narr.
    [Google Scholar]
  86. Van den Toorn, Maarten Cornelis
    1976 “Gekloofde zinnen en NC’s.” Tabu7: 18–20.
    [Google Scholar]
  87. Van der Beek, Leonoor
    2003 “The Dutch It-cleft Constructions.” InProceedings of the LFG03 Conference University, ed. byMiriam Butt and Tracy Holloway King, 23–42. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  88. 2005Topics in Corpus-based Dutch Syntax. Groningen: Grodil.
    [Google Scholar]
  89. Vandeweghe, Willy
    2004 “Presentatief ER en de definitie van ‘Subject’.” InTaeldeman, Man Van Taal, Schatbewaarder Van De Taal, ed. byJohan De Caluwe, Georges De Schutter, Magdalena Devos, and Jacques Van Keymeulen, 1019–1027. Gent: Academia Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  90. Van Zonneveld, Ronaldus Marcus
    1975 “Over (pseudo-) gekloofde zinnen.” Tabu1–2: 1–8.
    [Google Scholar]
  91. Venier, Federica
    2002La presentatività. Sulle tracce di una nozione. Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso.
    [Google Scholar]
  92. Vismans, Roel
    1997 “Alfa en omega: de eerste en laatste zinsplaats in het Nederlands in vergelijking met het Engels.” Colloquium Neerlandicum13: 393–405.
    [Google Scholar]
  93. Willems, Dominique, and Claire Blanche-Benveniste
    2014 “A Constructional Corpus-based Approach of ‘Weak’ Verbs in French.” InRomance Perspectives on Construction Grammar, ed. byHans Boas and Francisco Gonzálvez-García, 113–138. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  94. Willems, Klaas, and Ann Coene
    2006 “Satzmuster Und Die Konstruktionalität Der Verbbedeutung. Überlegungen Zum Verhältnis Von Konstruktionsgrammatik Und Valenztheorie.” Sprachwissenschaft31: 237–272.
    [Google Scholar]
  95. Zlatev, Jordan
    2007 “Spatial Semantics” InThe Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics, ed. byDirk Geeraerts and Hubert Cuyckens, 318–350. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  96. 2011 “From Cognitive to Integral Linguistics and Back Again.” Intellectica56: 125–147.
    [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