Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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This paper deals with non-agentive deverbal -er nominals in English and Dutch. It attempts to provide a grammatico-semantic explanation for the extension of agentive to non-agentive -er, and argues that the profile of the -er suffix, irrespective of whether it is agentive or non-agentive, is comparable to that of the subject-Junction of a clausal structure. More particularly, some clausal structures are discussed which show a high number of structural and semantic correspondences with non-agentive -er nominals. Whereas in English, the most important clausal agnate turns out to be the middle construction (e.g. this book reads easily), Dutch non-agentive -er nominals are shown to agnate with various structures, notably middle formation: especially the occurrence of intransitive or 'circumstantial' middles (e.g. asfalt fietst prettiger dan grind 'asphalt cycles better than gravel'), and the frequent use of 'let'-constructions in contexts where English would use a middle (e.g. dat boek laat zich makkelijk lezen [that book lets itself easily read], i.e. that book reads easily) offer evidence of the Dutch potential to construe non-agentive entities as subjects. Throughout the discussion, the clauses and -er nominals under scrutiny are illustrated by extracts from the COBUILD corpus and the Dutch INL corpus.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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