Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2211-6834
  • E-ISSN: 2211-6842
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In this paper we argue that verb clusters in Dutch varieties are merged and linearized in fully ascending (1-2-3) or fully descending (3-2-1) orders. We argue that verb clusters that deviate from these orders involve non-verbal material: adjectival participles, or nominal infinitives. As a result, our approach does not involve any unmotivated movements that are specific for verb clusters.

Support for our analysis comes from (i) the interpretation of verb clusters; (ii) the fact that order variation depends on the types of verbs involved, which can be explained by selectional requirements of the verbs; and (iii) the geographic co-occurrence patterns of various orders. First, the 1-3-2 and 3-1-2 orders are argued to be ascending orders with a non-verbal 3. Indeed these orders occur in grammars that have ascending, rather than descending, verb clusters. Secondly, the 1-3-2 order is argued to be an interrupted V1-V2 cluster with a non-verbal 3. Indeed, this order is most common in the region where non-verbal material can interrupt the verb cluster.

Our analysis of word order variation in verb clusters in terms of principles of grammar is further supported by an experiment in which we asked a large number of speakers distributed over the Dutch language area to rank all logically possible orders, including orders that are not common in their own variety of Dutch. The results demonstrate that speakers apply their syntactic knowledge to rank verb cluster orders that they do not use themselves. We argue that this knowledge cannot be due to familiarity with the various orders.


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